I was looking through some boxes of training material the other day and I came across a box of LEGOs. I had used them as a tool to teach vision casting with a group last year and I had forgot that I had the cool little toys. So there I was, a grown man and a box of LEGOs with no one around.

Around 45 min later I realized that I had just spent almost an hour researching and creating material for this blog. I am so thankful for the quality time that I could spend preparing this leadership lesson. (I also built a cool bridge in the process)

Here are a couple of things that I gleaned from my LEGO time.

It is best to start with a picture of the finished product. Most LEGO sets provide picture of the final product right there on the box. This is what we in leadership call the “vision” or the “goal”. A lot of times, leaders get side tracked and spend all of their time focusing on the strategies which deflates excitement. (Sorry for the NFL reference, I just heard mention of it on the radio so I thought I would add it in there.) Some times leaders fail to even show a clear picture of what success looks like. It’s this vision that makes people fall in love with the idea. Sharing the picture of the project will get the buy in from the team. Without it you might just end up with a big square block of LEGOs.

Sometime the piece you need is not in the box. When you are building from a box of random LEGOs that you find in a closet, there will be missing LEGOs. I could have just threw up my hands and quit, however, this created a challenge on how to proceed, not an excuse on why to stop. As leaders we need to understand that rarely will all the perfect ingredients be available for success. We will need to adjust and adapt. I was once told that the best ability is flexibility. (Thanks Phil)

It’s more fun when you are working with others. Building a LEGO project in a back closet without anyone around might be fun, but I quickly realized that it would have been a lot more exciting if I would have had others there with me. Having different ideas on what or how to build is always more exciting. I am not sure when you built your last LEGO project but the key reason to have others there is so you can say “can you help me find this piece?” As someone else told me “you can go further, faster, together.” (Thanks Reid)

The most exciting part of LEGOs is that all pieces are not the same. I quickly realized that what helped me reach my goal of a LEGO bridge was that I had different pieces and each had a place. I started to think about how boring my bridge would have been if I only had the blue pieces. This is the same when it comes to a team. The benefit of building a great team is that everyone is not the same. Each person brings a specific gift and talent to the project. Just like working with LEGOs we need to know how each person works and interacts with the others. We also need to appreciate the difference in our team members. After all, all blue pieces limit the project that you can build.

This week’s experiment: What are you building? Are you flexible when you don’t have the right parts? Are you enjoying those on your team? Are you appreciative for the differences that each team members bring to the table?

One last noteworthy piece of information. Never walk on a LEGO block barefoot in the middle of the night. It really hurts.