10 Great Life Lessons From Learning to Solve a Rubik’s Cube

Editor’s note:  I originally wrote this as a guest post for my friend Stacy Claflin for her Grow With Stacy blog.  She is taking that blog down to focus on her novel writing.  She always had great content on her site and she will be missed, but I wish her luck in her new adventures.  If you’d like to learn more about Stacy Claflin and her novels, check out her site StacyClaflin.com, and be sure and check out her latest book on Amazon, Betrayal.

I wanted to preserve this article before she took the site down because I thought it was one of my better posts and though her site is going away, I feel the content is just as relevant today as it was when I originally posted it almost a year ago.  

Grady Pruitt,  Founder, SuccessBuildingBlocks.com

Last Christmas, my son got a Rubik’s cube. Of course, it got messed up, and he wanted it solved. I could have taken it apart and put it back together. Instead, I set out to learn how to solve one. Along the way, I discovered some lessons for life.

Start Out With Your Goal

To solve a Rubik’s Cube, you have to know what it looks like solved. A solved cube has all the squares on all 6 sides the same color. All the green squares are on one side and all the blue squares are another. and so on. Without knowing what the solved cube looks like, you can never get to that point.

In order to reach your goals, you must have some idea of what it looks like to achieve that goal. Without that target, you’ll just be making moves with no thought of what you want to do. You may get some of what you want that way, but you’ll never reach where you’re going.

Take It One Step At A Time

When it comes to solving a Rubik’s Cube, take it one step at a time. Complete one algorhythm before moving on to another. Otherwise, you might mess things up and take longer to solve it.

Most goals we want to achieve are the same way. To reach them, we must break them down into small steps. By acting on those small steps, we move towards our goal.

It’s OK TO Make Mistakes

When you first learn to solve a Rubik’s Cube, you’re going to make mistakes. Sometimes, you can backtrack to fix the mistake. Other times, you may have to start over. And sometimes, if you just keep pushing forward, you may find that you solved the problem because you only thought you were off track.

It’s okay to make mistakes in life. We may not always understand how we made the mistake. If we look, we can figure out a way to solve the problem.

Learn To Recognize The Patterns

In solving a Rubik’s Cube, you’ll notice that certain patterns keep repeating. When you recognize the pattern, you can usually figure out what you need to do next.

Life is full of patterns. Those patterns give us clues to what we need to do next. They provide us with familiarity and let us know we are on the right track.

There’s More Than One Solution

As I’ve explored how to solve a Rubik’s Cube, I found they can be solved using several different algorhytms. Some algorhythms have fewer steps. Some moves are easy to learn. Others take a lot more time and effort because their patterns don’t occur as often. I’ve even noticed some shortcuts can be taken from time to time to reach a given pattern.

In life, we may have more than one solution to our problems. Any path that gets the desired result is a good one.

Get Started!

You cant solve the cube when it is sitting on the table. To solve it, you must pick it up and start spinning the layers around.

The same is true of life. I recently had to overcome procrastination. I learned that if you want to want to reach your goals, you won’t get there sitting on the couch watching TV.

Seek Guidance

When my son got the Rubik’s Cube, I didn’t know how to solve it. Oh, I could solve one layer. Sort of. I could at least get one side all the right color. But I had no idea how to do the rest of it. I sought help and found algorhythms to solve it.

For most of our goals, someone has done it before us. Even if no one has done the exact thing we want to do, chances are someone has done something similar. We just have to find their strategy so that we can learn it ourselves. We may find this through a mentor, an ebook, or a video. Whatever you need help with, seek guidance in some form. That’s how we learn and improve ourselves.

Keep on trying

Even after you’ve sought out help, solving a Rubik’s cube can be frustrating. I spent 4 or 5 hours watching videos, rewatching them again and again, step by step, following along as best as I could. Then I’d do something, and what I had suddenly didn’t look like what they had. I got frustrated. I took breaks, sometimes for hours. Then I would sit down and try again. But I kept at it. Eventually, I managed to solve one in a a couple of hours.

With our life goals, when we feel we’re doing what we’ve been told, and we keep going over and over the instructions we’ve been given, trying to figure out if we’ve missed a step somewhere, we can still find we’re not making progress. When that happens, we get frustrated. We can’t seem to figure out how to make it work. Even if we did, we can’t figure out how we did it. In these challenging times, we must keep on trying. Winners never quit and quitters never win.

Have fun!

Before long, I learned to solve the cube. I’ve gotten fairly good at it. I’m nowhere near champion speed. I can usually solve one in under 5 minutes now. I even discovered that there are algorythms to teach you interesting patterns, such as a “cube within a cube within a cube” or even one where you “switch” the colors surrounding the middle cube. Once you know how to do it, have fun with it!

Quite often, the steps themselves for reaching our goals may not be all that difficult. Usually, some of repeat over and over. Learn to have fun and play around with the steps. Try doing things in a different order. As you become more familiar with what you are doing, try some tricks. See if there’s something fun to do. You’ll learn even more about your goal and enjoy the process.

Set New Goals

Once you’ve mastered how to solve the cube, there’s always more to learn. You could try a harder cube, like the 4×4×4 or the 5×5×5. Try to solve it faster and/or with fewer moves. Challenge yourself to see how fast you can go. I found a Rubik’s cube app for my smartphone, and I’ve solved it as fast as 2 mintues 45 seconds. Still nowhere near record times, but way faster than the 2 hours it took my first couple of attempts!

As we reach our goals, we must continue to push ourselves. We need to find newer, more challenging goals. Sometimes, that means faster. Sometimes, that means more. It may even at times mean something completely different. Whatever it is, when you reach one goal, set a new one. And keep at it until you reach it!


6 comments… add one

  • Rachel Lavern April 25, 2013, 3:15 pm

    Loved this post Grady. Congratulations on completing the Rubiks Cube. I think that I completed one when I was very young and wonder how I may have slowed down now that I’m older.

    I like that you mentioned ‘recognize the pattern’. I have a coaching client right now who suffers a setback in her business whenever she approaches $60,000. This pattern is so consistent that it clearly is not a coincidence – and it is clearly holding her back from building a thriving business. As we went deeper into her money mindset and family messages, the basis of the pattern finally dawned on her. (She is stuck in self-sabotaging patterns learned from her father).

    Rachel recently posted The 16 Habits of Highly Unsuccessful People

  • Grady Pruitt April 26, 2013, 12:51 am

    Funny you should mention that, because last year, I was reading T Harv Eker’s Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, and he talks extensively kind of throughout the book, but in particular in one section, about how some of the patterns we have with money are patterns that we have learned, consciously or unconsciously, and most often, these come from things we learned from our parents.

    I think I may be battling some of my own patterns that I might be too close to the problem to see. Something I need to think about… :D (And not just with money matter ;) )

  • bonooobong May 2, 2013, 7:50 am

    Solving this brilliant toy is such an excellent example for algorithmical thinking! I really like your points on the importance of pattern recognition, and you are totally right, there is (or there are many) an algorithm which makes it easier to complete that twisting puzzle. It is my favorite toy and it has been invented by the famous hungarian architect Jenö Rubik. He was born in the same city like me (Budapest)
    bonooobong recently posted..Generatív ékszerek a 3D nyomtatóbólMy Profile

  • Edit May 18, 2013, 10:55 am

    Is there any tip or technique how to complete the cube? Honestly, I’ve never made it, although I really would like to… is there an algorithm or a system which you have to follow to complete it?
    Edit recently posted..Digitális fogászat – 3D nyomtatott implantátumokMy Profile

  • Grady Pruitt May 19, 2013, 2:41 am

    Absolutely, the cube can be solved. When I was looking for how to solve a cube, I found some written instructions on the Rubik’s cube website ( http://www.rubiks.com/solving-center ), but I also found a number of videos that walk you through the steps as well. You can find the videos on YouTube or you can just search for “solve Rubik’s Cube” on Google.

  • Dobrin Georgiev September 12, 2013, 7:45 am

    This one can help me in my work in the construction business – where I must deal with a lot of different problems and ideas.
    Dobrin Georgiev recently posted..Safety first! Dealing with massive constructionMy Profile


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