I’ve been catching up on the posts of a few people I follow. One is a colleague, Stu*, who I’ve previously referenced, and has a site called Driverless Croc. The focus of which, is to share and highlight effective ways, resources etc. for those ‘working for change.’ Particularly those “working across cultures, or in a field like community development or education:..”

This post resonated, particularly with regards to how the theme of building something from start to finish, correlates with my work and time in Asia. I think it will also resonate with some of you, so I asked permission to post it here. Enjoy, and do check out some more of Stu’s writing.

I’ve been making a mini Lego-alike model from Wisehawk:

It’s tiny, fiddly fun. The instructions are clear, and it’s not rocket science… apart from at the beginning.

At the beginning you’re using the simplest pieces in the simplest patterns – like this:

It’s should be easy, but it’s actually pretty hard to put them together. You’re starting from scratch so there’s nothing to hang the pieces on, and they tend to scatter as you try to attach the next layer. Progress is slow because you don’t have a sense of how the bricks fit together – the pattern hasn’t emerged yet. I had to keep squinting at the instructions as I reordered the bricks, trying to remember what went where.

As the model takes shape, though, everything starts to make sense. Building gets more fun when you start to see what you’re building and you go faster as you get an intuitive sense of how the model fits together. The last bits – the bits that really make it look good – are the easiest of all.

Brick by brick

It’s the same with bringing ideas into the world: we start with pieces that sort-of go together, but we don’t really know how. The pieces scatter easily and don’t add up to much.

But as we find parts that go together, we eliminate possibilities and begin to get a sense of how the larger whole might look. We gain momentum, things start to seem obvious, and it comes together faster. The finishing touches – the parts that most people see – come together relatively easily.

Starting is the hard part.

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*ps. Stu is the friend who inspired the JWS quest. So quite fitting to have this post and subject matter today.