While working on the house over the past weekend, I remembered my childhood. I was around 11 years old. My father and I were building a house together. We had already built the foundation and were working on the walls. He was the master building the walls and I was the helper mixing cement and giving him stones and anything else he needed. In those days, we had tools that were made to sell but not to last. The hammer looked very nice but after a few nails, the head would come off or the handle would break and we would have to fix it. The axe was sharp at first but would get dull after sharpening a few wood sticks for supporting structures. The bucket was fine until the handle would break away after a few days of carrying mixed cement. Noticing my frustration, my father would say that anyone can build a great house with great tools, but only real masters can build a good house with lousy tools.
Where do you find yourself in this spectrum of good and bad masters in your profession? It is amazing how often people with no support, no tools, no money, and often no formal education can build great businesses, create classic works of art, or play piano perfectly. The opposite is also amazing. How many people born to great fortune waste their tools, squander their parents hard work and create absolutely nothing of any value. At work, I come across many who claim they can do the job but when faced with the actual challenge, fail miserably or deliver something of little value. They have the tools, they have the support, they have access to people who are smart and willing to help. Is it their willingness or is it their ability preventing them from succeeding? Make sure you are a master, don’t complain about not having the best or the right tools. The tools are given to great masters after people realize the extent of their potential.
Finally, great masters think creatively and build their own tools when needed. These tend to be so effective, that often others who want to be like the masters copy the tools thinking they can also be as effective and efficient as the masters by just having the tools. Next time you are faced with a situation where no tools are provided or you have no support, think hard and try to see what else you can use to do the job well. You may just be surprised at your own potential and effectiveness when you stop thinking about the lack of whatever it is you need and instead focus on the goal! This is as true in a corporation or in government as in the house building example. Progress requires resources and hard work. Instead of complaining about lack of resources, think of creative ways of channeling even inferior replacements and make the progress. Others will come up with more resources once they realize your potential and ability to lead.