Resourcefulness

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

 

Theodore Roosevelt

 

One of the biggest assets you can bring to your career is resourcefulness. It’s easy to say you couldn’t get something done because you didn’t have what you needed. How much better an impression do you leave when you just get it done?

 

I am continually amazed at how effective some people are at just getting it done (and well). I see several key elements in most resourceful people.

 

First, they are all “grinders”. They have the energy to keep going even when it seems like they can’t succeed. These folks aren’t generally satisfied with a “no” or “it can’t be done”.  They just take this as a challenge.

 

Second, they are creative in their own way. Too many people think of creativity as some abstract ability that professional artist, writers and musicians have. To me, any time you solve a problem in a way other wouldn’t have thought of you are being “creative”. You can be a creative administrator if you know how to maneuver through the system to get things done.

 

Third, they generally aren’t whiners. In keeping with the kindergarten motto “you get what you get, so don’t pitch a fit”, they tend to understand context and constraints and don’t complain about things that can’t be helped. (Note, I draw a distinction between “venting” and whining. We all need to vent sometimes, whiners do it all the time.)

 

So let me give you an example.  You are a senior manager at a consulting firm and you have two new consultants.

 

The first one is nice and an OK performer. They come from a top school and had great grades. However, everything they do seems to need a little more correction than seems appropriate. They don’t come to you on a regular basis for feedback and when they do, it’s for questions you think they’ve already answered. They also are very concerned with getting more strategic work and feel they aren’t compensated quite fairly.

 

The second person is a persistently hard worker and asks lot’s of questions. But rarely asks the same one twice. They sometimes make mistakes, but never on things like spell checking or making sure the math in their spreadsheet model is correct. Their mistakes are more creative. They also seem to figure out how to get stuff done. Rather than say “our professional development model” isn’t right, they bring you an idea and say “can I help with this”. They also tend to push your own expectations of your self. You find yourself saying “I wouldn’t have thought of that” when noting how they got something done.

 

Who would you rather have working for you? Or for that matter being working for?

 

Don’t always act like you need more or that someone else needs to help you.  Do the best you can with what you have. “Promotable” people understand context and know that there isn’t usually more budget or time.

 

I am NOT saying never ask for help or more resources. Rather, just understand that they may not be forthcoming and resourceful people get it done regardless of circumstances.

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