For all of the time we spend thinking about how we fit into the situations around us, we should also think about how we can architect those situations too. Here’s Y Combinator cofounder Jessica Livingston on the idea:
You are a jigsaw puzzle piece of a certain shape. You could change your shape to fit an existing hole in the world. That was the traditional plan. But there’s another way that can often be better for you and for the world: to grow a new puzzle around you.
Professionally, we all solve some type of problem. We provide an answer to some question the people we seek to serve are asking. While walking in to solve a generic problem is well and good, the real opportunity arises when we help define both the problem itself and the resolution we offer.
A regular plumber fixes leaks. It’s a hole in the puzzle to be fit into. An emergency pipe saver + problem solver builds a business around emergency calls. They optimize for internet searches and build referral networks. They don’t just accept the role they fill, they define it in their customers’ minds.
We aren’t just a puzzle piece in someone else’s puzzle. We get to grow the puzzle around us, but only if we choose to.
h/t to Shane Parrish at Farnam Street for highlighting this one. And, if interested, do read Jessica Livingston’s full post, “Grow the Puzzle Around You.”
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