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Become as resourceful as MacGyver!

Many of you will recall the television show MacGyver, about a guy whom I consider to be Mr Resourceful. My son Jon used to love watching this as a child (supported by his dad!)    He routinely disarmed bombs with paperclips and used gum wrappers to fix fuses. How can we bring MacGyver’s ingenuity to our daily lives, work and growth as an entrepreneur?

Resourcefulness is the ability to make do with what you have, to see possibilities where no one else does, and to anticipate the challenges required of you. It’s the ultimate lesson in a day and age so saturated with quick fixes and easy solutions.

So how can you nurture resourcefulness in yourself and others and think like….MacGyver? Below are nine techniques. (With thanks to Saga Briggs)

  1. Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

Too often people stifle their own creative instincts because they focus first on constraints rather than possibilities. Remember that this is counter-productive and in no way helps with progress. To be truly resourceful, we should make a habit of considering every possibility, however far-fetched it may sound at first.

  1. Teach collaboration.

Teaching people to be resourceful on an individual level is only half the equation. Resourcefulness works best when people can work together and combine their ideas. When you encourage people to work together,  make sure you emphasize the power of multiple minds contributing to the same task. I saw this experienced by our second cohort where teams were challenged to build a tower from…..spaghetti, tape and marshmallows!

  1. Support rule-bending.

Rules exist for a reason, but when they hold back progress, a truly resourceful individual decides that progress should prevail. Cultivate an attitude that says I am out to accomplish things, not just go along with how things have always been done.  Part of being resourceful is daring to try things other people say won’t work.

  1. Teach delayed gratification.

As the researchers at Trent University came to find, resourceful students appreciate the value of delayed gratification, and students who appreciate delayed gratification have the patience and drive to be resourceful.

Teach them that, with more time and effort, the return can be more rewarding.

  1. Practice Socratic questioning.

Nothing focuses the mind and pushes you to look for innovative solutions like criticizing your own “best” ideas. Just as Socrates questioned his own presumptions about the world around him, resourceful people discover more possibilities when their curiosity remains difficult to satisfy.

  1. You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

Simple, dirt-farmer wisdom, and yet so many of us fall short of success because we’re afraid to ask for what want or need. Resourceful people must be fearless. This can be an especially important quality once students enter the workforce, where promotions or special opportunities may come only at the request of the employee

  1. Turn innovation inward.

Resourcefulness is about optimizing what you have to work with. And in some cases, being innovative means making old things work better, not making new things. Teach someone to look at old problems with a fresh perspective, and they’ll be twice as resourceful as the average person.

  1. Dream big, start small.

Long-term dreams can be as wild as your imagination allows, but adopting a realistic attitude about what you can do in the short term is important. Good ways to start small include brainstorming, writing lists,drawing maps, conducting exploratory interviews, doing preliminary research, and talking to experts. While resourcefulness demands a good imagination, it also requires a bit of grunt-work here and there.

  1. Embrace discomfort and inconvenience.

If you are unwilling to endure rejection, embarrassment, uncertainty, fear, or failure, you can’t expect to become a resourceful individual. Tolerating–and responding to–inconvenience is perhaps the most important quality associated with resourcefulness. When we don’t immediately see a way out of an unpleasant situation, many of us give up and opt for the quickest fix. If we keep our wits about us and embrace the challenge, the solutions we find can put us in an ever better position than we were before.

Building strong businesses, led by resilient entrepreneurs.

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