“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it; they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” – Steve Jobs
When I was a kid, I would go to my grandparent’s house. It seems they always had a puzzle on the table. Most of the time us kids were not allowed to go into the puzzle room. But I would sneak in when the grown-ups were otherwise occupied. I loved the magic of what was about to happen. Watching those puzzles come together mesmerized me. It was inspiring to see these little pieces form a frame, then fill in an image. It was an early exposure to creativity for me…understanding that it takes thousands of little things, tiny pieces coming together, to make amazing beautiful images come to life.
Creativity so often is mistaken as something that just happens, or is inspired thought, or something that is only achieved by those who are “special”. But the truth is, creativity is about the little pieces coming together, like those puzzle pieces would, to make connections.[quote]Creativity is about the little pieces coming together to make connections.[/quote]
If you have worked in creative fields for any amount of time you have experienced that project, design, or story that you knew could be beautiful. But you also knew something wasn’t quite right. It was missing something. Then one day, you see, hear, or smell something and it is like the missing piece of the puzzle falling into place. When that missing piece is found it changes everything. It’s about the connection. We need the missing pieces—the connections—in order to help the beauty of your work crystallize and become evident.
We have to pay attention because the pieces are all around us. Once we understand the importance of connection, we have a responsibility to insure we are always alert. We have to keep our radar on and be amazingly intentional about looking for pieces. The piece we find today might not fit the puzzle we are making right now. But it may be the cornerstone of the next puzzle.[quote]The piece we find today might not fit the puzzle we are making right now. But it may be the cornerstone of the next puzzle.[/quote]
Inspiration, ideas, and just awesome stuff are around us every day, waiting to be discovered and connected. The next piece might be hiding. It might be disguised. It may even be lost. But it is there and it is waiting for us to find it and help it get connected to the bigger puzzle for which it was intended.
Once we find these pieces we have to make sure we cherish them. Connecting each puzzle piece takes work. We have to remember what we have, catalog it, and keep it for the right time and the right puzzle.
Then at other times, we need to press pause and take a step back from our problematic puzzle or puzzle pieces. Sometimes we can get so consumed with connecting the puzzle pieces that we stop seeing the image.
Back up. Put it away. Step aside for a minute.[quote]Back up. Put it away. Step aside for a minute.[/quote]
You might be surprised at some of the puzzle pieces you have connected and how beautiful they really are. Or you might see how far from fitting into the bigger picture they really are. You have to keep the bigger perspective of our work. You’re trying to create a masterpiece. So you have to avoid becoming intoxicated by a small piece when there is a bigger picture to be taken into consideration.
Connections are surgical as much as they are physical. We have to remember the importance of being an artist and finding the unique art in every puzzle piece. What we may have thought was one thing may be something totally different and we get to define that. No matter what we connect, we have a responsibility to create amazing pieces of art.[quote]No matter what we connect, we have a responsibility to create amazing pieces of art.[/quote]
As the puzzle-maker you get to manipulate the pieces. There probably isn’t an instruction manual, nor is the image on the box clear enough to make sense. That is why you are there. We need you. We need your interpretation and your instincts. We need the experiences you bring to the table and the lens you use to process each puzzle piece. A puzzle in the box is nothing but thousands of little ideas waiting to be pieced together, created, and connected to turn into a masterpiece. And in the case of those of us who work at churches, it’s a masterpiece that has the power to change the course of someone’s eternity.