Wednesday, March 18, 2009 by Dave Blum

Do you have a love-hate relationship with any of your hobbies?  Well I’ve got it with those darn Sudoku puzzles  Basically, I love it when I solve ’em and I hate it when I don’t…which has been quite a bit of late, especially since I bought the New York Post’s “Train Your Brain Sudoku– FIENDISH LEVEL”.  Man, these puzzles are tough: five-star difficulty!  What was I thinking?

Nevertheless, I soldier on with the Sudokus,
for the overall good they do me.  What really keeps me hooked on Sudokus is the daily practice they provide in building patience.  Like other types of puzzles (including treasure hunt clues), Sudoku solutions reveal themselves slowly.   You start with some early successes, you get stuck, you see something new, and ever-so-gradually, you make tantalizing progress towards a final answer.  The “moment of truth”, however, tends to come right at the end, when you inevitably reach that crucial impasse and exclaim:

“There’s nothing more I can do!” …

…which, of course there is — if you’re patient enough to keep looking, column by column, row by row, box by box.  Here are the top three team building ideas I’ve learned from my ongoing love-hate relationship with Sudokus:

1) There is always an answer if you look hard enough!
–Whether you’re solving Sudokus, playing scavenger hunts, taking part
in team building exercises or participating in team work projects, there
inevitably comes a time when you’re tempted to give up.  It’s important
to remember that there is ALWAYS a solution out there.  Keep at it and
trust the process!

2) If you get completely stuck, come back to the puzzle when your mind is
more relaxed.

–When your brain is clenched up and nervous, it loses its ability to make
breakthrough leaps of insight.  As they say in cop dramas, “Step away
from the ledge!”   No matter what you’re doing, you’re likely to crack the
code if you give yourself a mental break from time to time.  Some of my
best scavenger hunt ideas come to me when I first wake up in the
morning, or when I’m taking a shower.  I once conceived an entire
scavenger hunt list while out on a bike ride. When brute force doesn’t
work, take a step back.

3) Enjoy your successes.
–While doing a Sudoku, there’s something delicious about that moment
when you see a new pattern and confirm a final number.  During corporate
team building activities, office initiatives, joint enterprises, etc. — put aside
the final goal, from time to time, and stop and celebrate the little
successes along the way.

Hooray–I’m done with today’s blog.  Time for another Sudoku!