How Do We Develop Resourcefulness In Today’s Generation?
I was chatting to a really good friend, a Baby Boomer, on Sunday. Someone I respect deeply, who by any evaluation is successful. We’re both old sailors,so when I mentioned crossing the Atlantic in ’94, he said that he’d love to sail an ocean. To which I responded, “That’s a great idea, let’s do it later this year.” To which he laughingly replied, “I don’t have the money or time to do that.”
Time and Money…
In fact ask anyone why they can’t complete something they want to achieve and you’ll get a combination of “I don’t have the time, or money… …or skills, capabilities, support, resources, all of which are expressions of time and/or money (That is until a ‘compelling event’ when suddenly they find it…)
When we look to the outlier successes in our world, the Beatles, Churchill, Mandela, Gandhi, Branson, Musk, Gates, etc…, none of them were given more than 24 hours a day, and few were born with a ‘silver spoon in their mouth.’
The key to success then is not resources, but resourcefulness.
“We all have more to accomplish than we have resources to accomplish it.”
Yet my anecdotal observation is that the Resourcefulness Quotient, or RQ(TM) is sorely lacking today.
Hoisted By Our Own Petard
The fault is certainly our own.
We have become overly prophylactic, lazy, and generous parents, teachers, and adults. It’s no wonder that in a world were everyone has a smartphone with GPS people no longer have a sense of direction.
It’s not the fault of the technology either. When did you ever let your kids cycle to their friends’ house after school? Without the need to track their every movement! Take them camping or to a strange city, get lost and figure out how to get unlost together?
At what age did you expect them to make their own lunch, do their own washing, make a meal for the family? When their computer couldn’t connect to the Internet did you let them figure out how to fix it, or do it for them? (I personally blew this one and always fixed broken tech myself)
It seems (note: seems) that the current generation are satisfied being a spectator rather than participant, a consumer rather than creator, entitled rather than empowered.
Perhaps I’m wrong.
Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention
So how do you train resourcefulness?
I’m not sure you can.
(Although the military has a way of beating tactical procedure into people :-))
My hypothesis is you have to learn it through deep necessity. You have to figure out the quickest way to your mates house on your bicycle at age 7. How to make enough to go to the movies when you’re 14. Fix a flat tyre at 18. How to find work, shelter and food in a foreign country at 21.
It’s probably too late to take a someone from their comfortable life in the suburbs and dump them in the middle of a forest or even a foreign city and expect they’ll learn how to survive.
But We Have To Do Something.
Have you ever worked for a company that has had enough money, skills, and resources to accomplish all of their goals?
Me neither. There’s always resource contention. Never enough money for training, events, campaigns, recruitment, innovation, or other investments. Never enough time to follow up all the opportunities, or get all the admin work done.
So even in enterprises resourcefulness, the ability to prioritise and resolve problems, and make something out of ‘nothing’ is key.
Is resourcefulness an innate talent, nature rather than nurture? Something we cannot develop per se because you either have it or you don’t?
Is the answer some kind of National Service? (Not necessarily military, perhaps ambulane, fire service, community service)
Is it too late for anyone who’s been support by their parents, and then their spouse all their lives?
Crossing That Ocean
Back to my mate and crossing an ocean. Both time and money are man-made constructs. As such we choose how to spend, or invest them.
There is no reason in the world why we couldn’t cross an ocean in 2016.
I met a family with 3 teens who crossed the Atlantic in a 31′ trimaran; a retired dr and his wife on a 55′ steel junk in Antigua; even a 50 year old who bought an 18′ life-raft for R500 (~$200 at the time), put a Hobie mast on it, and used that to sail away from South Africa. He actually lost all his charts in a storm on his 3rd day out of Cape Town, and navigated to South America in a trip lasting 63 days using a schoolboy’s atlas. True story.
A little time using our pooled intellect to brainstorm ideas for funding, preparing, and finding a boat. Some sacrifice and a leap of faith.
Watch this space.