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Thursday, June 11, 2009

How to Think Like a Fool #34: Use What's Handy

PLAY: Use What's Handy
"And if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."
—Stephen Stills

When life gives you lemons, make incredibly sour lemonade—unless life gives you water and sugar, too.

Fools don't want to drive all the way to Home Depot to pick up the perfect tool or part. They enlist what's available, wherever they are, whatever they have. They think like MacGuyver and invent like Rube Goldberg.

In Buster Keaton's The Boat, his wife's pancakes prove to be inedible, but later provide a plug for a hole in the boat with the help of hammer and nails (which caused the hole in the first place). Later, he uses the hammer to nail himself to the floor while the boat is flipping over.

We often live with the myth that if we just had [fill in the blank], all our problems would be solved. Only being able to use what's handy forces you to be creative. You have to connect the unrelated, make and break rules, and transform functions of objects. The limitations take away the infinite options that take too long to consider. You begin to see the project as a whole, instead of its separate parts, as demonstrated here by the fool Nasrudin:

Why Don't You
Mullah Nasrudin went to the shop of a man who stocked all kinds of bits and pieces.
"Have you got nails?," he asked.
"Yes."
"And leather, good leather?"
"Yes."
"And twine?"
"Yes."
"And dye?"
"Yes."
"Then why, for Heaven's sake, don't you make a pair of boots?"
—from The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin by Idries Shah

But to always have handy what you might need, you could carry around a Fool's Aid Kit.

Think: What do I have handy right here, right now? How can I use these to solve the problem?

Tomorrow: How to Think Like a Fool #35: Secretly Cooperate

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