“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world—try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. But life—that’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact. And that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it—you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.” 

Steve Jobs

I’ve found an unexpected blueprint in the form of Lego bricks. Yes, those tiny, colorful blocks that are the arch-nemesis of bare feet worldwide. As a father, I’ve spent countless hours with my sons, hunched over these plastic wonders, embarking on architectural feats that would make Frank Lloyd Wright raise an eyebrow—or at least, that’s what I tell myself.

You see, there’s something profoundly liberating about sitting down with a pile of Legos. At first glance, they appear as a chaotic mix of shapes and colors, much like the scattered pieces of a puzzle before they find their rightful place. But with a bit of imagination and a disregard for the instruction manual, these blocks transform into the stuff of dreams.

Building with Legos is a bit like life, isn’t it? We’re all handed this box of bricks—some more than others, admittedly—and we’re told, “Here you go. Build something.” The world is full of people eager to tell you exactly what to build, offering blueprints for a ‘perfect’ structure. But the real adventure begins when you politely nod at their suggestions, then toss the manual aside and start clicking pieces together in a way that makes sense to you.

That’s when the magic happens.

This is where that quote, the one about life being made up by people no smarter than you, really hits home. As I sit there, watching my sons turn a pile of seemingly random pieces into a spaceship, a castle, or a scene from their favorite cartoon, I realize they’re practicing the very essence of life. They’re learning that the world isn’t just something you live in—it’s something you can shape, mold, and rebuild.

Of course, there are moments of frustration. Pieces get lost, structures collapse, and sometimes you realize that the majestic castle you envisioned looks more like a lopsided shed. But isn’t that just a whimsical metaphor for life’s trials and tribulations? The beauty of Legos—and life—is that nothing is permanent. Mistakes can be dismantled and rebuilt. Paths can be redirected. And sometimes, the most stunning creations come from the most unexpected mishaps.

In this Lego-laden journey, I’ve learned to appreciate the power of imagination, the importance of resilience, and the joy of creating something from nothing. It’s a reminder that life, much like a box of Legos, is brimming with possibilities. We can build castles, or we can build spaceships. We can follow the instructions, or we can throw them out the window and see where our creativity takes us.

So, the next time you find yourself stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night, remember this: that tiny block of pain is a microcosm of life’s endless potential. It’s a call to arms (or feet, as it were) to build, create, and shape the world in your image.

And if you’re lucky, you’ll have a couple of little co-architects by your side, teaching you that sometimes the best plans are the ones you make up as you go along.

p.s. I am aware it’s “Lego” and not “Legos”, but my inner ear just can’t embrace this reality.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.