“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools” (Douglas Adams).
WHEN YOU HAVE A PROBLEM, WHAT IS YOUR FIRST INSTINCT? Do you expect a friend or family member to fix it for you? Do you begin looking for a professional or an expert to hire? Or do you first bring your own ingenuity to bear upon the problem?
Certainly, there is a time and a place to rely upon others. Indeed, the person who is so stubborn that he won’t ever ask for help (or too witless to know he needs to ask) has a serious problem. But many people have the opposite problem: that of asking too quickly for help. Today, let’s think about the value of increasing our own ingenuity. If we can learn to be more imaginative and inventive, displaying more skill in solving our own problems, many benefits will come our way.
(1) Ingenuity makes us less dependent. When we show resourcefulness in finding solutions to our difficulties, we’re able to survive in situations where no outside help is available. (2) Ingenuity helps us to take personal responsibility for our lives. Rather than look to others to make our problems go away, we take responsibility and apply our own creativity. (3) Since help is one of the things that is more blessed to give than to receive, we should be more interested in helping than in being helped. Ingenuity puts us in a better position to do that. When others are in need, our ingenuity can sometimes lift their burdens.
But finally, consider two specific areas where ingenuity can help us.
Education. For too long, many of us have assumed that it is somebody else’s responsibility to educate us. But isn’t education a personal project? If all you know is what you’ve been taught, you don’t know much. So show some ingenuity in exploring ways to educate yourself.
Entertainment. A very bored society is what has resulted from the assumption that other people should keep us entertained. So I encourage you to go back to your childhood. Be ingenious. Be imaginative. Be clever and resourceful in having fun. Learn how to entertain yourself!
“Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of toys, and personal entertainment depended on individual ingenuity and imagination. I would think up a story and go live it for an afternoon” (Terry Brooks).