August 2, 2014

Being Resourceful is a matter of curiosity

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“Do what you can with what you’ve got wherever you are.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Those words got me thinking about people who will state that they can’t accomplish something for no reason other than, “I don’t know how.”


The truth is that the statement is incomplete.  The person doesn’t know how to do the task, certainly, but what’s really at issue is that what’s required for the task is a lack of knowledge today.  So, all that’s required is a bit of simple curiosity in order to create some ideas as to how the task could be done.

It’s important to focus on how something could be done, rather than should or must be done.  Focusing on what should or must be done, or the arbitrarily “right” way to do something, prevents action more often than not.  Truth is, learning requires experimentation, and experimentation requires a tolerance for failure.

Like myself, many people can call up memories of grandparents and other relatives from previous generations and marvel at how they were able to craft seemingly simple solutions to a wide range of problems.  (I remember my father-in-law telling me how his father would sort loose nuts and bolts into baby food jars, then nail the lids to the beams in the basement ceiling where they could simply twist in the jars to store their loose parts.)  Many remark at how ingenious folks were “back then,” no matter how far back they go.

I think it’s a an incorrect perception, however, that previous generations were smarter, somehow.   What I believe is that people, from any era, who are deemed as “resourceful” really have 2 things:  persistence and curiosity.  I don’t believe that anyone can always “know” the answer in some kind of MacGyver-like fantasy of bottomless knowledge of all things.  What I do believe, however, is that people who have a desire to experiment incessantly and tinker with possible solutions will eventually find them.

Couple that with our natural, intrinsic motivation to achieve and you’ve got a powerful combination – people who will simply develop ideas and test them, not just sit around debating why an idea won’t work.   Just because you think an idea won’t work, doesn’t mean that it won’t.  You’re far better off engaging a little curiosity and trying to find ways in which you could make the idea work, rather than instantly pooh-poohing the suggestion from the start.

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