This is “Heartlake High School,” the new Lego set my daughter earned by giving up thumb-sucking. Her future orthodontist encouraged us to reward her if she could go an entire month without sucking her thumb and she did! And so we did. She spent nearly an entire day building it, playing with it, deconstructing it and reconstructing it. (Me: “Have you taken a break today?” Her: “Mom made me stop and have lunch.”) She loves this Lego set.
This is the “Tech” center, a “state of the art” technology classroom created by my other daughter, inspired as she was by her sister’s new construction. The keen observer will notice a few laptops, study materials and a special couch just for the teacher. Equally obsessed with her task she, too spent the day in building mode making multiple trips to the big Lego box upstairs for additional resources.
For a good six hours the girls played, created, enjoyed and engaged. No dustups, no frustration, no rivalry. Just play. It was the best kind of engagement.
Both of their creations are brilliant. And they are quite different, aren’t they? I have always cherished the brand new Lego set and the chance to build with exactitude what’s pictured on the box. My daughter did so brilliantly, one page and one piece at a time. I have also loved turning a random assortment of parts into something different and new, something you can only realize through imagination, trial and error and the patience required to sift through old parts in search of just the right piece.
And this is why Lego is so dang smart. They know that we want both. They know that we want to make what’s on the box AND that slowly but surely those parts are going to make their way into the big box of “previously new” creations and become components for future, unscripted endeavors. What both Lego creators and our children understand implicitly is that as gratifying as it is to fully realize the new set, it’s only going to be the new set for a little while. What is newly created today will not remain intact. The new becomes the used with the predictability of waves hitting the shoreline. And, as it does it can be multiplied in its usefulness as it is claimed for new purposes and possibilities.
As leaders, we are charged with facilitating our team’s creation of the new just as we are charged with helping them learn from it’s deconstruction and dissemination into future endeavors, commensurate with the critical necessity to continuously repurpose our best work in response to the next evolution of demand. Yes, some things are built to last. Things like relationship, connection, trust and creativity.
Everything else should be tossed into the big box, refreshing the supply of old elements waiting to be reborn into new creations.