Do you remember the TV show "MacGyver"? The titular hero was the epitome of resourcefulness. He would get trapped, usually in a building that contained a ticking time bomb, but he was able to free himself by being resourceful and using what was available to him, like duct tape or chewing gum. I was always intrigued — and impressed.
I value resourcefulness highly in my employees. Resourceful people can figure things out on their own and find a way to make things work. They are able to use resources at their disposal to help them solve problems or overcome obstacles.
Resourcefulness seems to come naturally to some people. They aren't about to give up just because the odds are stacked heavily against them, even when it doesn't involve ticking bombs.
Consider what happened during the construction of the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge. In 1863, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea for this spectacular bridge. But bridge-building experts throughout the world told him to forget it.
Roebling convinced his son, Washington, also an engineer, that the bridge could be built. The two of them worked out how it could be accomplished.
The project was only a few months into construction when an accident on the site resulted in the death of John Roebling. Shortly thereafter, Washington contracted the bends during underwater construction of the bridge's pillars and was partially paralyzed. Everyone assumed that the project would have to be scrapped since the Roeblings were the only ones who knew how the bridge could be built.
Even though Washington was incapacitated, his mind was as sharp as ever, and he was determined to complete the bridge. As he lay in his bed, he taught his wife how to instruct the engineers who were building the bridge. For 13 years, Washington painstakingly oversaw construction from afar — until the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge was finally completed. It still stands today, carrying more than 150,000 cars and pedestrians every day.
Resourceful people can see the upside of down times. They are not willing to give up just because things get complicated. And here's a news flash: They are not all geniuses. They just don't accept defeat easily. This story should inspire you for the times when you are out of duct tape and chewing gum.
Once upon a time, a young donkey asked his grandpa, "How do I grow up to be just like you?"
"Oh, that's simple," the elder donkey said. "All you have to do is remember to shake it off and step up."
"What does that mean?" asked the youngster. The grandfather replied, "Let me tell you a story: Once, when I was your age, I was out walking. I wasn't paying attention and fell deep into an old abandoned well. I started braying and braying. Finally, an old farmer came by and saw me. But then he left. I stayed in that well all night.
"The next morning, he came back with a whole group of people, and they looked down at me. Then the old farmer said, 'The well is abandoned and that donkey isn't worth saving, so let's get to work.' And they started to shovel dirt into the well. I was going to be buried alive!
"After the first shovels of dirt came down on me, I realized something. Every time dirt landed on my back, I could shake it off and use it to step up a bit higher! They kept shoveling, and I kept shaking the dirt off and stepping up.
" 'Shake it off and step up … shake it off and step up …' I kept repeating to myself. And it wasn't long before I stepped out of the well, exhausted but triumphant."
So no matter how difficult the situation, no matter how bad things get, just remember — shake it off and step up. You'll be all right.
Mackay's Moral: When you're out of resources, it's time to get resourceful.
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.