When I was growing up, one of my favourite adverts on television was of an iconic Australian artist, Pro Hart, recreating one of his famous dragonfly artworks on carpet using food instead of paint. The point of the ad was how easy this carpet was to clean and featured a cleaning lady coming in to find it and her memorable line, “Oh Mr Hart … what a mess!”.
If you’re interested, I have found the original clip posted here:
I am a big fan of Pro Hart’s painting style and was super delighted to visit his studio in Broken Hill NSW in 2016 and see the space where he used to create, along with a variety of painted objects, including his cars.
It was during this holiday that I purchased a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of his ‘Dragonfly on carpet’ which remained unopened for a couple of years before I felt brave enough to give it a go sometime in 2019.
On that occasion I managed to complete the edges, but that is where the progress stopped for a number of months before I packed it up, feeling completely defeated by the random squiggles of paint colour on the beige carpet background.
Having recently had a renewed motivation to complete jigsaw puzzles I decided it was time to break out the dragonfly for one more go. The difference between this attempt and the previous one is that I now take the time at the start of the puzzle, when I am separating edges from the inner pieces, to sort the pieces into colour categories. What I have discovered is that by taking this extra preparation time at the beginning it rewards me with less time and effort during the formation of the puzzle picture.
Another trick I have learned with the more complex puzzles is that if I take progress photos I can soon determine that I am actually making progress. It is so easy to feel like any effort has produced little result without these comparison photos and to get subsequently disheartened.
I am pleased to say that with the combination of these two strategies I was able to complete this challenge in a grand total of 11 days! This was such a stark contrast to my previous attempt which lay dormant after an initial burst of effort.
How often in life do we feel like we are not making any progress and give up altogether? I know that for me it is all too easy to believe that my effort in a variety of areas is fruitless and my time is not worth continuing to be wasted with that particular endeavour. More often than not, it is perception, not reality.
Nothing of value comes super easily. It should take time, focus and concentrated effort otherwise we diminish it’s worth, whether that be skills, products, habits, goals or any type of project. If it arrives without blood, sweat and tears it can be more readily discarded.
Wise King Solomon from a couple of thousand years ago wrote, as recorded in Ecclesiastes chapter 9 and verse 10 “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,” I believe he knew that there is a human tendency to lose interest and momentum when things get a little hard.
If we apply my jigsaw principle, a little bit of preparation and some ways to track progress will help lead to a successful outcome. God has created us to achieve great things, but they will not land in our laps. There is effort we need to apply if we we wish to reach the fullest potential He has in store for each of us.
Experience has shown me this is true, even in something as simple as a jigsaw puzzle challenge, and I know it can be true for you to. What project will you apply this principle to?