I like to think I’m resourceful when it comes to solving practical problems. I also consider myself resourceful in relationships, though my skills have been sorely tested over the years, and no doubt, yours have as well.
Not long ago, the power went out in my home taking with it the heat, the lights, and my usual modes of productive and recreational activity. Resourcefulness was required. Faced with the unknown, it took about fifteen minutes to determine if the issue was localized or widespread, not to mention how long it might persist. And even that required resourcefulness.
Yours truly is no MacGyver, making my first order of business to remain calm and assess what I could. Once basic safety was assured — and it was — my goal was to find my way out of the box in which “something” had landed me for an indefinite period.
In the Dark
None of us likes to be “in the dark” whatever the circumstances or context. We want to know where we stand (with the spouse, the kids, the boss, the mother-in-law), and we certainly want to be able to see what is just in front of us that we’re dealing with!
Rising early as I do, waking to cold and darkness, and the resulting inability to crank out work at my favorite time of day, left me annoyed, at least initially.
I had a long list to tackle: emails to check, documents to distribute, edits due at a specific time; I had also wanted to skim the news headlines, but with my mobile device the only one functioning (with limited juice), I had to re-prioritize and pace myself.
An hour later it was light outside, albeit a dreary and somber winter morning. I was relieved to be able to wrap myself in layers of sweaters and scarves, but I still had to figure out how to be productive while the power and heat were out. So I picked through my mental checklists, took up a pen and a piece of paper, and began to make notes to guide me through a reshuffled schedule. No creativity was required really; even coffee was more of an irritation than a challenge, as a short drive made it clear that my neighborhood was in the midst of an outage, but caffeine-a-plenty was available only a mile away. Likewise, if needed, outlets for charging and wifi.
As the day wore on, and everything returned to normal by mid-afternoon, I found myself considering the nature of resourcefulness — not only what we find as an alternative when our usual means of doing things isn’t possible, but the mood, the attitude, the energy with which we continue to plod ahead in order to get things done.
Are You Resourceful in Your Relationships?
I may have been confronted with immediate concerns with regard to work timelines and dependencies, but in the evening — all services restored — I wondered about our interpersonal resourcefulness. If we can become accustomed to thinking outside the box when it comes to dealing with technology snafus, do we also gain skills in resourcefulness when it comes to our relationships?
Do we learn to negotiate what we want — and what we determine is important to us as a twosome) — using whatever tools we can come up with?
If not in a relationship, can we be resourceful in finding unusual ways of meeting people, or at least retaining and expanding our human connections? Can we insist on yes to the many opportunities for these connections? And if we’re putting the pieces of our lives back together after a painful experience, are we drawing upon all our sources of support, strength, and creativity to do so?
Does resourcefulness in one area encourage resourcefulness in another? Is it a matter of recognizing transferable skills and behaviors like taking back perspective, soliciting input from others, re-imagining what is available in our immediate environment? Isn’t it all about necessity requiring us to take a fresh look at what we have on hand or what we can devise?
How to Be Resourceful… in General
Resourcefulness brings to mind television phenom, MacGyver, a fictional character who found himself in impossible scrapes, and always saved the day just in time.
I don’t possess a particularly scientific bent, so when faced with certain dilemmas, I am woefully at a loss. My sons, on the other hand, are more inherently skilled and also more knowledgeable with mechanical or electrical failures and the like. On the other hand, I am resourceful with people and organizational challenges, which illustrates that in addition to knowledge, temperament and experience increase our levels of resourcefulness.
Moreover, problem-solving fitness is a function of situations and solutions already encountered in life. This includes both practical and emotional matters.
When searching for more detail on what comprises resourcefulness, I am not the only one who conjures MacGyver. Lifehack features its take on resourcefulness, as Lorie Marrero makes a point of reminding us not to reinvent the wheel, and, among other things, to ask ourselves:
Is there another way to get what I want? Is the desired result really the best result? Who else has information that might help me? What is something very similar to what I need that might also work? … WWMD- What Would MacGyver Do?
Resourcefulness = Necessity + Creativity + Persistence
How to be resourceful, from my own experience?
Step back. Step in. Turn things inside out. Turn them upside down. Think unconventionally. Think through someone else’s eyes. Don’t give up. Stay calm. And to all that I will add: Curiosity helps, and likewise, practice.
Technology: Does it Hamper Resourcefulness?
In thinking about the skills involved in thinking outside the box, I have found myself wondering if technology helps or hurts our capacity for resourcefulness.
I may blame spellcheck for my deteriorating spelling, contact lists in my phone for my rusty ability to recall numbers as I once did, and Google for a creeping laziness in mastering certain areas of knowledge. Like most of us, I know that I can always “Google” to find an immediate answer, and Google again, if I quickly forget it.
Yet I have, at times, purposely foregone technology precisely because I do not wish to become too dependent; I want to remain assured that I can think outside the box when the lights go out, the cell is out of range, and the power of my gadgetry must yield to the power of my judgment, my experience, and my… resourcefulness.
Certainly, I use my smartphone, my tablet and my laptop with considerable consistency, and I hope at appropriate times. Yet I never wish for my brain to resist exploration for the pure pleasure of it, and problem-solving with no technology tools on hand.
What Skills Do We Need to Think Outside the Box?
There have been many times in my life, certainly in the past dozen years, when thinking outside the box required a mix of scaling mountains à la Sisyphus and imagining that there was no box whatsoever. Let’s just call it my version of MacGyver saving the world with a paper clip.
But it’s more than that. Resourcefulness may be seen as something we encourage intellectually and behaviorally.
For example, when finding ourselves in an unexpected situation without our usual orienting tools, how well will we adjust? Can we think on our feet? Will we “intuit” what we need to know? Will we reach out or turn inward? And how exactly, if we find ourselves constrained, might we pick our way out of the box with a paper clip, a conversation, or some other emotional, physical, or reasoning mechanism?
This problem-solving in a pinch needn’t always be reactive. Aren’t we resourceful in anticipating issues in relationships and finding creative ways to address them — before they become insurmountable?
And this brings me back to the importance of a breadth of real world experience, reading, researching, and hands-on tinkering. This reminds me of the value in a diversity of relationship influences, including those that may leave us bruised, that nonetheless instruct us in resilience. This reinforces my commitment to monitor my dependence on technology so as never to lose the fundamentals of communicating, analyzing, navigating, striving, and for that matter — dreaming.
You May Also Enjoy