Progress Comes in Unexpected Leaps

Excerpt from "Accomplishing Big Things in Small Pieces," by William Wissemann, This I Believe (9.14.08):

cube Solving the Rubik’s Cube has made me believe that sometimes you have to take a few steps back to move forward. This was a mirror of my own life when I had to leave public school after the fourth grade. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I still couldn’t consistently spell my full name correctly.

As a fifth-grader at a new school, specializing in what’s called language processing disorder, I had to start over. Memorizing symbols for letters, I learned the pieces of the puzzle of language, the phonemes that make up words. I spent the next four years learning how to learn and finding strategies that allowed me to return to my district’s high school with the ability to communicate my ideas and express my intelligence.

It took me four weeks to teach myself to solve the cube—the same amount of time it took the inventor, Ernő Rubik. Now, I can easily solve the 3x3x3, and the 4x4x4, and the Professor’s Cube, the 5x5x5. I discovered that just before it solves, a problem can look like a mess, and then suddenly you can find the solution. I believe that progress comes in unexpected leaps.