Life is Like a Rubik’s Cube

Wouldn’t it be Nice to Have the Solution to the Puzzle of Life?

Life can be a bit complicated and difficult to find solutions, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort. Solving life’s problems is similar to the Rubik’s Cube.

The Rubik’s Cube is one of the most famous puzzles of all time. Invented in 1974 by a Hungarian professor of Architecture, Erno Rubik, the cube was not originally intended to be a game; its original purpose was for science.

The first time he scrambled the cube he thought it would be unsolvable. However, after a month’s time, Erno was finally able to solve the first Rubik’s Cube.

The purpose of the cube was to be able to rearrange the colors of a scrambled cube so that each of the six faces contained only one solid color. This is an extremely difficult feat…

There are over 40,000 ways to arrange the cube!

Rubik’s Cube enthusiasts have developed standard protocols for solving even the most difficult cube permutations. Today, these protocols are followed religiously by competitors in the worldwide Rubik’s cube speed cubing competitions. Most of these allow for solving the cube using less than 100 moves.

Many still struggle to solve their first cube, but the competition for speed cubing remains high, with the current record being 3.13 seconds.

The Rubik’s Cube is a fun and entertaining device that engages the minds of people around the world.

Life is like the Rubik’s Cube in that it is made up of a variety of colorful pieces, some the same, some different. All these pieces can be moved around, but they’re still connected to the bigger story. As we’ve been going through the Bible, we’ve seen examples of some colorful characters trying to figure things out.

Getting one side of a Rubik’s Cube done is pretty simple, but the further into it we get the harder it is. Life is like this as well, some parts of it are easy, some, not so much. Once we’ve figured out the puzzle and continue to do it, it gets easier. But, if you quit doing it for a while, it can be hard to pick it up and start again.

Solving a Rubik’s Cube can be done without help, but it’s easier with some. This help can come in the form of people with experience showing us or it could be written instructions. The same is true in life. We can figure it out on our own, but it’s quicker and easier with help. This is where spiritual mentors, our church families, and the Bible can help. In both the Rubik’s Cube and life, if we don’t accept the help, it’s going to be harder and take longer. And we might never get it right.

Embrace this puzzle called life, seek help and keep working to find its solutions.

Putting the Right Pieces in the Right Places

Scheduling is Like a Puzzle…and Who Doesn’t Love Puzzles?

Scheduling and planning can be a daunting task, but don’t have to be. Each of us have control over what we do and when we’ll do it. I’ve been writing about scheduling over the past several weeks.

I started out with how to get control of your life. Next, we opened the tool box and looked at OneNote and how I use it. Then I pointed out the increased likelihood of hitting the target by writing things down. Last week I wrote about being intentional and how I use Outlook to be better organized.

This all fits together like the pieces of a puzzle.

Attitude is key to enjoying puzzles. If we approach them with dread, they won’t be much fun. However, if we look at them as a challenge and an opportunity to learn and do better…the experience will be much more enjoyable.

I’ve started really focusing on being more intentionally productive six or eight years ago. I think it started shortly after God smacked me upside the head, I don’t know for sure. What I do know was that I was tired of not getting the things I wanted to, done.

I discovered that time, like a puzzle had fixed parameters. There were a fixed number of pieces, a predetermined picture of what it would look like when it was finished, etc. The question was how to get all the pieces to fit. Once I began to see the similarities, I’ve began to develop…

a system that allows me to be productive with less stress.

A great life example of puzzles is a group activity that I had my team of three assistants do. At a monthly team meeting I dumped 300 jigsaw puzzle pieces out on the table and asked them to put them together. They had no picture of what the finished puzzle would be. They just had a pile of pieces.

As they began sorting and spreading the pieces, they realized there were twelve corners. They continued separating the pieces and finding the edges and sorting by similarities of color and design. They continued this process until they had the three separate 100 piece puzzles finished.

There were several lessons learned that day that correlate with scheduling:

  • Every piece has a place in the puzzle, but some have higher priorities than others. Some things have deadlines or are scheduled meetings that involve others. You can decide what pieces are the corner pieces and can’t be moved around.
  • There are a fixed number of pieces per puzzle. Trying to squeeze those 300 pieces into one puzzle wasn’t going to work. The pieces were looked at, determinations were made and they were sorted accordingly. There are a fixed number of minutes in each day. There are a limited number of things you can do in 24 hours. If you try to put in more things than will fit it just won’t work.
  • It doesn’t matter how fast you want the puzzle finished; you can’t put the piece in any faster than is physically possible. Things often take longer than we think or want. If you haven’t finished and you’re out of time. You either have to quit and come back or reschedule the next thing. You can decide.
  • A big pile of pieces can be overwhelming. Quit thinking about the big pile and just focus on one piece at a time. Don’t let your to do list overwhelm you. Prioritize it and work on the first next thing.

The key to unstressed productivity is knowing yourself and being intentional with your plan.

Getting the pieces of your life to fit into place is like doing a puzzle. It is only stressful if you let it be. You have control over how to put your puzzle together. Remember to have fun with your puzzle…it’s up to you.

What Does the Customer’s Piece of The Etiquette Puzzle Look Like?

You Have A Responsibility in This Process Too

The last two Weekly Solutions have been about the missing pieces of the etiquette puzzle, mostly from a business perspective. Today we are going to look at the customer’s responsibility in this.

The customer’s piece isn’t much different from that of the contractor’s.

Customer etiquette to the contractor:

  • Clear vision of the finished project –

Know what you want. This is less about the specifics and more about what you hope to accomplish with the project. A good contractor will guide you through the process of turning your dream into a reality, but you need to know what that dream is.

  • Clear communication –

All good relationships require input from everyone. This starts with clear communication. Be as clear as possible when you share your vision with your contractor. Find pictures of ideas, designs, finishes, color, etc. that you like and share them with your contractor.

  • Ask questions –

If you don’t understand something about the project, ask. This is part of the communication process. Contractors aren’t mind readers. Because they do this work daily, they forget that the customer doesn’t. This can lead to unspoken assumptions by both parties.

  • Share any specific requests –

If there are things that the contractor needs to be aware of while working on your project, i.e. parking, doors to use, thermostat settings, pet arrangements, etc. let your contractor know.

  • Have the job site ready for work to begin –

Unless the agreement with your contractor includes moving furniture, decorations, etc. you should have this done before the crews show up to start work.

  • Treat the contractor the way you want to be treated –

Just because you hired your contractor to do the work doesn’t mean they are machines or slaves. They are people just like you. Treat them with the respect that they deserve.

 Last week I shared Stefaney Rants’ blog post, Construction Etiquette. In it she points out customer’s etiquette to neighbors.

  • Inform your neighbors of what is being done and when.  Give them a week’s notice (which is realistic since construction schedules are often hard to nail down) in the form of a letter or informing them in person.
  • Let them know what portion of the property/house is having work done so the neighbors can prepare themselves.  They might need to move their outdoor furniture because of traveling sawdust or can’t leave their pets outside with the loud noise from the equipment.
  • Reassure them their parking spots won’t be blocked if possible and their landscaping won’t be trampled.  It’s also a good idea to suggest they park their cars in their garage in case debris flies around.
  • Offer to give them a tour when the construction is completed.  Everyone loves a good before/after reveal!

I’d never thought about this. It makes sense, this is the way that I would like to be treated if I were your neighbor.

As a contractor I hadn’t thought much about the customer’s responsibility in this. I have always approached etiquette as it being my duty. It makes sense that we each approach things from our own point of view. Problems arise when we forget to consider other’s ideas, wishes and dreams.

A Missing Piece of The Puzzle

What Ever Happened to Contractor Etiquette?

Last week I wrote about etiquette after a friend had a plumber spit tobacco juice in her sink while they were talking. The lack of professional conduct (especially in the building industry) baffles me. As I have been considering this topic it’s become apparent to me that this piece of the professional puzzle is missing and needs to be found.

Where has this important piece of the business relationship puzzle gone?

It’s easy to find, but hard to put in place. This puzzle piece is right here in each of us. The problem is the unawareness that it’s even missing. We’ve become so busy in this fast paced, need to get things done life, that we’ve become self-centered. Not necessarily in an intentional knocking people out of my way selfishness. Its more production focused rather than people focused. As I think back on situations that I’ve witness or heard of, it is apparent that this problem needs attention. Whether it’s –

  • Standing in a customer’s upholstered chair using it for a ladder
  • Leaving an electric circuit turned off over a weekend which had a customer’s freezer plugged in to it
  • Laying down after lunch and taking a nap on a customer’s couch
  • Throwing food trash in the void behind a stone veneer and leaving it or
  • Spitting tobacco juice in a sink

As professionals it is up to us to do something about this.

So, what are we going to do?

The first thing is to be aware of the problem. If we ignore it, it won’t go away, it will continue to get worse. This means that we need to hold each other accountable for our actions. As professionals, if we see something unacceptable being done, we need to call each other out with respect and in private. This isn’t about public humiliation. It’s about raising the bar. The difficult thing is my acceptable behavior and yours may be different. That’s why we need to find a reasonable standard.

Here’s a good place to start –


  1. If you open it, close it.
  2. If you turn it on, turn it off.
  3. If you unlock it, lock it up.
  4. If you break it, admit it.
  5. If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can.
  6. If you borrow it, return it.
  7. If you value it, take care of it.
  8. If you make a mess clean it up.
  9. If you move it, put it back.
  10. If it belongs to someone else and you want to use it, get permission.
  11. If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.
  12. If it’s none of your business, stay out of it.
  13. If it will brighten someone’s day, say it.
  14. If it will tarnish someone’s reputation, keep it to yourself.

Okay…so these are the same as the Golden Rules for Living in last week’s post. If they make sense for life, they make sense for business.

In my research I came across a Construction Etiquette blog post by Stefaney Rants. She points out some specific etiquette for the contractor to the customer.

  • Return calls, send contracts in advance, sign papers in a timely manner.
  • Be on time!  If you are going to be late, call the home owner.
  • Keep the job site “clean”.  Have the crew pick up their lunch trash and water bottles.  Ask the home owner for recycling bins.  Dust will be expected, but use a plastic tarp if possible to contain the dust and/or clean some areas if it gets out of hand, like on the home owners grill for example.
  • Be aware of landscaping.  Don’t park on flower beds or other plants.
  • If something breaks, let the home owner know!  You want to keep a good reputation and the home owner will definitely tell their friends about your work.

She also lists some etiquette for the customer to the contractor. Next week we will approach this missing puzzle piece from that perspective.

Contractors – start working on your business relationships – the BAR IS BEING RAISED.