Everyone thinks they need more money, time, information, etc. But there is one invaluable trait that will help you make the most of any situation in life: Resourcefulness. Learning how to be resourceful will do more for you than all the time or money in the world.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure
If someone handed you an empty glass bottle and said, “This will help you develop an invaluable trait that helps you make the most of any situation in life,” you would doubt their sanity. But what if you had never seen one before?
In the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy,” an airplane pilot throws a Coke bottle out of an airplane window. The bushman who finds it takes it back to his tribe and they discover dozens of uses for something most of us would consider worthless.
The bushman understood why resourcefulness is an invaluable trait that helps you make the most of any situation in life because it was essential to his survival.
The label or definition you assign to an object shapes your perception of its value and function. If there were no word for bottle in the language you speak, you would not see it as something to be used only for drinking. When you let go of the label, what is useless can become useful, and one person’s trash becomes another’s treasure.
Resourcefulness is a Trait that Helps You make Most of Any Situation in Life
Resources are always finite, no matter how much you have. If you have a million dollars, you can lose it all tomorrow. Some days you have time in abundance and some days you don’t.
Resourcefulness, on the other hand, is infinite.
- The biggest threat to large media companies with unlimited resources and huge budgets is a single creator with unlimited ingenuity.
- First-time founders who bootstrap are often more successful than second-time founders who have an abundance of funding because they are resourceful.
- When someone is resourceful, they understand that knowing how to make a million dollars is much more useful than having a million dollars.
- Resourcefulness is what empowers a startup to disrupt an industry or topple an 800-pound gorilla.
- A resourceful founder can accomplish the same amount of work with three people that other people do with ten people.
Resourcefulness is an invaluable trait that helps you make the most of any situation in life because it’s free and infinite.
A Crash Course in How to Make the Most of Any Situation in Life
The summer after I graduated from business school, no one was hiring and the global economy was in a nosedive. The few companies that were hiring received thousands of resumes from overqualified applicants for every position.
To make matters worse, Pepperdine was not a top 10 business school. There were very few opportunities offered through the career center. It also didn’t help that I suggested to the administration that they close the Career Center, divide the staff salaries by the number of students, and give us all a refund so we could hire our own career counselors.
Because I ran out of money, I had to move in with my parents. A friend agreed to take over my lease and let me sleep on the floor when I was in town if he didn’t have to pay the deposit. I was so broke that my father gave me a weekly allowance.
Sixty dollars doesn’t go very far in LA. But when you’re Indian, it’s in your DNA to make the most of what little money you have. It’s a crash course in learning how to be resourceful.
How I Made the Most of my Pocket Money
I thought attending networking events would help me find a job. But you had to pay to attend
When you have to make sixty dollars last four days in Los Angeles, a ten-dollar ticket to a networking event feels like a fortune. So I approached the event organizers and offered to work the door. Not only did I get to attend each event for free, I met tons of people.
It’s almost impossible to get a drink for less than ten dollars in LA. Whenever I went to a bar, I would take a flask full of vodka, order a glass of water, pour it out in the bathroom, and replace it with vodka.
You can easily spend sixty dollars in a day on food and parking alone in LA where parking tickets are like a seventy-five dollar fuck-you from the universe.
Surfing is a great hobby for someone who is unemployed or broke because it doesn’t cost money and it takes a bunch of time. But you also have to pay to park at the beach. Because the city of Santa Monica had a parking pass for the beach that you could buy for $20, I was able to avoid spending a fortune on parking.
Eating at restaurants was not an option. So I took a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter to the beach. The only day that didn’t work was when some damn seagulls got into my duffel bag.
The local surf club had a weekly happy hour with free food and there was a Hare Krishna temple around the corner from my friend’s apartment. So I ate there on Sundays.
How I Made the Most of My Time
When I was job hunting in the summer of 2009, I received invaluable but counterintuitive advice. The worst thing you can do when you’re unemployed is spend all your time looking for a job. And that’s exactly what some of my fellow students did. One said she applied for every job on the internet, which was not only stupid, but ineffective.
Instead of spending all day looking for a job, I asked my dad to lend me the money to enroll in an online course on how to start a blog.
Because of my first blog, I got my first job out of business school. The Unmistakable Creative podcast and my current career grew out of that course. As hard as that summer was, I wouldn’t trade it for the world because it was a crash course in how to make the most of any situation in life.
Why Resourcefulness is in Invaluable Trait that Helps You Make the Most of Any Situation in Life
The more resourceful you become, the more leverage you’ll have over your life, regardless of your situation or circumstances.
1. Resourcefulness Helps You Create More Resources
Pissed off Patty and Rich Robert both own apple trees.
To earn a living, she sells her apples at the local farmer’s market. She earns enough to keep a roof over her head. But she’s pissed off because down the street Rich Robert also owns an apple tree, but he makes enough money to drive a Mercedes and live in the nicest neighborhood in town.
Patty is poor because she thinks she needs to sell more apples to make more money. Robert, on the other hand, is rich because he gets the most out of his apple tree. Where she sees limitations, he sees possibilities. He understands that resourcefulness is an invaluable trait that can help you make the most of any situation in life.
2. People who are Resourceful Recognize the Value of their By-Products
“When you make something, you make something else. Just like they say you can’t not communicate, you can’t not make something else. Everything has a byproduct. Attentive and creative entrepreneurs recognize those byproducts and see opportunities,” says Jason Fried in a blog post about why you should sell your byproducts.
Unlike the pissed-off Patty, Robert is making the most of his apple tree by selling his byproducts. Instead of selling apples at the farmer’s market, he sells apple pies to Whole Foods. He also sells his apples to a liquor company that makes apple-flavored vodka and to a beverage company.
When he realizes how much better it makes his sex life, he partners with another company to make apple-flavored massage oil. In the words of Marie Forleo, he is rich, happy, and hot
3. Resourcefulness Breeds Self-Reliance
Would you rather have $250,000 now or earn it in the next nine months? Many people would say, “Show me the money,” as Cuba Gooding Jr did in the movie Jerry Maguire. If you took the money, you would have more resources.
My old business partner Brian generated $250,000 in sales in 9 months by cold calling one of his jobs. Who do you think made the smarter decision, Brian or the person who took the money?
The person who took the money would have more resources in the short term. But Brian would come out ahead in the long run because not only did he make $250,000, but he learned how to do it.
When you learn how to make that kind of money, you develop the skills and ingenuity to do it again. In the long run, the person with more resourcefulness ends up with more resources.
As 50 Cent said in his book Hustle Harder, “The first check you receive should never be your biggest concern. Instead, always focus on the long-term potential.” Resourcefulness, not resources increase your long-term potential.
4. Resourcefulness Helps You Build Transferrable Skill
When we start something new, we underestimate the skills we’ve developed in the past. But we don’t realize that all the jobs, projects, and hobbies we’ve developed give us transferable skills. And we can apply those skills to whatever we do next.
Transferable skills lead to what economists call positive externalities, which are unintended positive benefits from something we do.
In college, I was studying for a midterm with a girl I thought was super hot. When a friend texted me to ask how it was going, I told her, “It sucks, but the positive externality is studying with this hot girl.”
The positive side effect of writing a book is that you learn to organize a project, finish what you start, and put ideas into action. When you make a million dollars by learning how to sell, you develop a transferable skill that you can use to sell something else.
5. Resourcefulness Fuels Collaboration
When I wrote my first self-published book, The Small Army Strategy, I didn’t have the money to hire someone to design a book cover. But my friend Mars Dorian loved the book so much after reading it that he offered to design one for me.
While I don’t think creative people should ever work for free, Mars, whether he realized it or not, was focused on the long-term potential of working with me, not the immediate payoff. After he designed my first book cover, I hired Mars to design a second book cover, the visual voice of our brand, and the chapter illustrations for Unmistakable: Why Only is Better Than Best”.
Not only that, but I wrote extensively about him in the book. My work became an advertisement for his because he was resourceful enough to use the skills he had to provide great value to someone.
People who make the most of any situation in life don’t focus on what they lack. They use all the resources they have to create value for others.
6. Resourcefulness Leads to Innovation
When I was a student at Berkeley in 1999, it took hundreds of hours, technical knowledge, and thousands of dollars to build a website. Today, anyone reading this could build a website in less time than it took me to write this article, and for less than ten dollars.
Innovation produces paradigm shifts that reduce the gap between creativity and technology. Anyone can go from idea to execution in record time if they are resourceful and willing to ask themselves a question that has led to billions of dollars of innovation.
What is possible now that wasn’t possible before?
In the mid to late ’90s Marc Andreseen built the first commercial web browser and the porn industry developed the technology to process credit card payments over the internet. The intersection of these two technologies was the birth of e-commerce.
The iPhone made it possible to track people’s location and open electronic locks. The intersection of the two technologies inspired Julien Smith to found his company breather.
We underestimate the value of a resource we all have in our pockets. You can use your phone to update your status and scroll through pictures on Instagram.
Or you can use it to create a piece of work, an app, or something else that is a gift to the world. You can take an online class, listen to an audiobook, or learn something new. When you see your phone as a tool for creation and not just a device for communication, you will develop an invaluable quality that will help you make the most of any situation in life.
As the gap between creativity and technology ceases to exist, people who are resourceful will reap the rewards, while those who seek more resources will linger in obscurity or be left behind completely.
What Repurposing Content Teaches You About Resourcefulness
Unless you own an orchard or love apples, you probably don’t give a shit about how to turn an apple tree into a fruit empire. But you can apply Rich Robert’s strategy to everything from starting a blog to hosting a podcast.
A podcast is just like an apple tree. Even if its original form is audio, you can repackage and repurpose it by starting from first principles. The raw material of a podcast is just words. From those words, you can create social content, images, newsletters, blog posts, and more.
Being resourceful teaches you to leverage resources you already have, build more assets that that increase in value, and gain more resources.
How to Start Being More Resourceful
Choose any project you want to finish, task you need to complete, or goal you want to achieve.
First make a list of all the assumptions: how long it will take, how much money it will cost, and what resources you will need.
Second, make a list of all the resources you have: Money in the bank, time, skills, people, etc. Ask what you think is useless but might actually be useful.
Third, ask yourself how you could complete your project or goal in less time, spend less money, and make better use of the resources you already have.
Fourth, whenever you discover a new app or tool, ask yourself, “What does this do that wasn’t possible before?”
If you repeat this process often enough, you will begin to become more resourceful and make the most of any situation in life.
The Fallacy of More and The Reality of Enough
“You have enough resources to start right where you are today. You have enough whether you have a dollar in your pocket or not. If you know one person, live on the street, don’t have a car, have never started a business, or didn’t go to college, it’s enough to get started. It’s not enough to be successful. It’s probably not enough to be successful at any significant level, but it’s enough to get started,” said my mentor Greg Hartle in our interview on The Unmistakable Creative Podcast.
Nothing makes a person more resourceful than having limited resources. You don’t need more resources when you realize that resourcefulness is an invaluable trait that helps you make the most of any situation in your life.