Achievement - putting together the puzzle pieces


Have you ever seen someone take an impressive ‘big leap’ in achieving something? Perhaps a gymnast performing an amazing routine and winning a competition. A teen getting into an amazing university. Someone getting a big new job or opportunity. You might look at it and think Wow! Aren’t they amazing! Or lucky! Maybe you might even be a little jealous that it’s all happening for them. You might even feel a little bad about your own ‘slower’ progress.
But in reality its never actually one big leap. All these big achievements are a collection of loads of teeny tiny pieces that built up over time to eventually create a bigger picture  - it’s a lot like a jigsaw puzzle.
Each little piece of the puzzle is vital. Yet each piece looks so insignificant by itself, makes little sense and you could easily overlook it by itself! To start with, you tip out all the puzzle pieces and don’t know what you are looking for. It feels like a mountain to climb – why did I get the 5000 piece puzzle!! This will take forever!
But you make a start. You might have a strategy – perhaps find the corners or edge pieces first. Or group by colour so you can start to put a few pieces together. Gradually piece by piece things start to take shape and the picture gets clearer.
Eventually you are onto the final pieces and the finished picture reveals itself! Hurrah! Now each piece makes sense and is contributing to the overall image.
Progress in gymnastics happens in the exact same way.


Those edge and corner pieces? They are the pre-requisites of every skill. Like being able to do a bridge before you can backflip. Needing to be able to take your weight on your arms before you can cartwheel.
The pieces that start grouping together into colours or parts of the picture – each represents a physical or mental area of learning the skill. Like having flexibility for bridges, arm strength for handstands, or the mental determination to learn what your body needs to be doing.
Then there’s the important final pieces that join everything together – those are the little ‘tweaks’ that make all the difference. A little bit more arm strength, that final improvement in flexibility that makes a skill possible.  A final ‘oh I get it!’ understand mentally of what you need to do, the determination to try that one final time or that one little piece of feedback from the coach that makes it all come together.  Small…. But massively important.
It would be easy to underestimate each piece.  To look at a half finished puzzle and not recognise the progress and success that is already there.  What we need instead is to trust the process and celebrate all these little parts, knowing that under the guidance of awesome coaches and our own perseverance, the picture WILL reveal itself at the right time.
As we reach the end of term and look to displays and award ceremonies, its time to celebrate all these puzzle-piece achievements with our gymnasts. No matter what the current state of the puzzle – maybe its finished, maybe it’s still a work in progress – every little aspect is worth a celebration. And remember that of course no two puzzles are ever completed in exactly the same way.


Like the idea of how we teach skills and celebrate ALL the little wins?  Register for a class below

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