Let me say first that I mostly prefer the box – take comfort in the box, do not as a general rule,  ‘think outside the box,’ because well, who likes uncertainty?  I majored in accounting and liked very much how things fit nicely on both sides of the ledger, added up, balanced out and everything was governed by rules at the same time – perfect!

Once I was on a project which was run by a team of consultants and we had to participate in team building exercises, which were possibly my most unfavorite thing to do.  We were given two toothpicks and asked to make a triangle out of them.  And no, you couldn’t break them.  Huh?  Not possible I thought to myself.  It takes three lines to make a triangle, that much I remember from my most hated math class – Geometry. Once you got it, you were to indicate that you had, then we would discuss.  I pondered. I squirmed.  I watched others who seemed to get it.   At some point I must have mimicked something they were doing and they said, ‘ she got it” though I really DIDN’T.   I just wasn’t about to volunteer the information, ‘hey I’m stupid here,’  and so we proceeded to discuss what the exercise was all about and what it meant to ‘think outside the box.’

Okay, just for the record,  at some point,  I finally GOT IT – though not on my own.  The table was the base, you raised the toothpicks like a teepee and voila!  you had a triangle!

Apparently this not fun, team building exercise which I thought was to teach me to ‘think outside the box,’ taught me instead how we are all different from one another, think differently,  learn differently, and need one another to get through.  But it also taught me how much I like being in the box.  And how much I hate puzzles.

And so I slip this story in, just under the wire, in response to Lorna’s prompt over at Gin & Lemonade,  Puzzle.

~ Susanne

17 Comments on “Puzzled

  1. I always hated any such exercises, and I believe they are invented for the smugness of the so-called ‘instructors’. I may well have just broken the toothpicks, then said ‘Oops’. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • You would have been fun to have on the ‘team’ Pete! At the time the ‘exercise’ only succeeded in making me feel stupid. In hindsight it makes me realize you can’t teach someone to think ‘outside the box.’ The box will always make more sense to me! 😉

  2. I also hate those team-building exercises. People ask how I’m so different at the end, and every once in awhile, they say that in a good way. I think out of the box easy enough, sometimes too far. But my job is all about being in the box, so I make do. It sounds like that the exercise didn’t teach the intended result, but to have learned anything at a team building session is a win!

  3. Oh my word! I used to hate team building exercises too! It seems they always have you do stuff outside your comfort zone…one year our whole staff went to a “ropes course” which was really outside my “box”! Fortunately you got to pick your activities, so I didn’t have to climb up a rope and swing down or anything! LOL

    • I wonder if anyone likes them?? I would really fail at something that physical like you had to attend! Fortunately our exercises were in the safe confines of our office building! 😀

  4. For some reason I thought one of the cats had written this and it was about the litter box. For real! Then I saw the true post.

  5. So relieved( not) that it wasn’t just me…The only team building exercise I ever liked was the marshmallow ones…I ate them…Love your take on a puzzle Susanne 🙂

      • I used to dread those days and saw them as the biggest waste of time and yet years later I do think more outside the box so in retrospect maybe they did have a delayed impact on me ..I still prefered eating the marshmallows…lol 🙂

  6. Pingback: How To Do More With Your Blog | Gin & Lemonade

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