How to improve your resourcefulness

“A resourceful person will always makes opportunity fit his or her needs.”

Napoleon Hill

Have you ever been stuck in a problem in your goal-striving for so long that you begin to doubt your ability to solve it for good? There are wide range of characteristics like self-belief, discipline, dedication, hard-work, confidence and so on that are important in your goal-striving endeavours, but when it comes to achieving some of your important professional or personal goals, solving certain problems or in overcoming difficult challenges, your resourcefulness becomes an important resource. When you lack resourceful mindset, you get stuck or lack consistency while pursuing many of your goals thereby creating lot of stress and victimhood. Some people have endless reasons why they haven’t committed to pursuing what they are passionate about doing with their lives and use lack of resources as their excuse for not pursuing their goals. Then again there are many who achieve their goals where they started with little and no resources. The distinction is the difference between resources verses resourcefulness. Resources are what we use to fulfil a task, whereas resourcefulness is about how we adjust ourselves to fulfil a task, be it vision, purpose, or goal and so on.

Having resourceful mindset is especially important when the goals you have set are difficult to achieve. Problems are inevitable while pursuing goals. While certain problems can be managed quite effectively, there are some problems that we are not familiar with and might lead to anguish and uncertainty. In order to find solutions to such problems, you need to become more resourceful and dig deeper into your available resources.

An attitude of resourcefulness inspires out-of-the-box thinking, new possibilities, ideas and the ability to find a solution to achieve what you desire to achieve. Our resourcefulness  is directly proportional to our ability to achieve high quality results within our lives. For this reason, we must understand what it means to be resourceful and implement strategies into our daily routine that will enable us to utilise the power of our resourcefulness.

So, What does it means to be resourceful?

To become resourceful is to have the ability to use creative methods of thinking to make the most of the resources you have in order to solve the problem at hand or to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficult challenges. In other words, it is the ability to get the most from every situation you find yourself in and in achieving your goals. It is taking initiative in difficult situations and involves inventing, creating, imagining, evaIuating, classifying, observing and analysing solutions to overcome problems.

It is however possible that you won’t always have access to all the external resources you need to solve a problem. These can be your external resources like tools, people, possessions, or technology and so on which are valuable as long as you have access to them and diminish over time, because they are scarce or taken away or lost. In such instances, acquiring and tapping into your inner resources like your attributes, traits, strengths, and skills you have at your disposal and knowledge can help you solve the problems successfully. To do this, you will need to develop some problem-solving strategies to see things from a different perspective while also being open to new approaches that might aid you in getting the outcomes you are after.

What determines your resourcefulness?

Resourcefulness is a mindset and is especially relevant when the goals you have set are difficult to achieve and is determined by your ability to reach out to your external and internal resources to effectively deal with difficult problems or situations. It is also determined by your ability to reach out to others or people in your network of contacts like friends, coworkers, and associates to communicate your ideas persuasively or to seek their help or in building fruitful relationships that can help you gain leverage to make most of your circumstances.

We all are constantly looking for ways to problem-solve. However, truly resourceful people look for creative ways that they can leverage their current situation for maximum benefit beyond quick fixes and short-term gains and have the ability to visualise all the possible ways to achieve what they desire. In order to become more resourceful, they limit or eliminate counterproductive habits while enforcing new habits that help them endure discomfort, uncertainty, or challenges to improve their internal resources. 

It is one thing to have a great idea, but it is important to find creative ways to execute. In order to be resourceful in your endeavours, you need to be flexible, creative, effective and should have the ability to plan, organise, to make decisions, and to problem-solve. Here are some internal resources that are important to enhance your resourcefulness.

  • Focus on getting things done through strong network of people and other external resources.
  • Persistence and mental toughness in problem-solving abilities.
  • Creative and driven to take initiative or to be part of creating and finding solution.
  • Open-mindedness to redefine what is possible and what is not. Ability to consider different perspectives, possibilities, people and views to broaden your perspective.
  • Willingness to get out of your comfort-zone and learn form things that are new and different.
  • Self-belief that you are competent and adequate enough to get things done. Being confident that you can problem-solve and find solutions to challenges with your talents, abilities and good attributes.
  • Ability to think outside of the box and come up with innovative solutions to problems.
  • Ability to anticipate, assess, and evaluate when a challenging situation comes your way.
  • Adaptable so that you don’t box yourself into doing things in a particular way.
  • Consistency and discipline to practice productive habits to get things done despite obstacles.
  • Optimistic and positive attitude that the solution is easier to find.

How to improve your Resourcefulness

Resourcefulness is a key leadership skill. Whether you are an entrepreneur running business, or managing a group of people or an employee looking to get ahead, a resourceful mindset can really set you apart. The ability to find solution and use available resources to achieve your goals is a skill and can be learned and practiced by implementing right strategies that enable you to find new approaches, set objectives, create positive momentum and overcome negative challenges. Here are some strategies that can improve your resourcefulness in your problem-solving.

Work on your available resources

Resourcefulness is about being aware of what actions you can take with your current abilities, skills or resources. By taking stock of your available resources like time, effort and productive habits in personal or professional areas, you can identify where you are falling short and make adjustments, so you won’t feel stuck in un-resourceful habits.  Our resourcefulness relies heavily on positive momentum we can build in achieving our goals and one such momentum builder is to identify the resources and habits that are helpful. 

Keeping the needed materials handy and your next action defined and ready to go, you remove certain obstacles to getting started and can see to it that they won’t eat into your focused time and effort. Are you stuck in any of your un-resourceful habits? Do you often pack too many tasks in short amounts of time? Do you have difficulty managing your routines or your important tasks? Do you have adequate skill set to complete your tasks on time? Reflecting on your available resources and productive habits can help you enhance your resourcefulness.

Anticipate Problems

You cannot anticipate everything but you can look for potential problems that might get in the way of your goals. The more you prepare ahead of time, the more resources you will have when faced with a problem. These resources can be your skills, knowledge base and your support network. This way, you can build a toolkit of resources that you can turn to and use when you need them most. Anticipating the likely problems you might face in advance can make you better prepared. Your inner resources like focus, previous experience, attention, expertise from other people or ideas based on your knowledge  can be valuable to rely upon. 

What goals are you working toward? What could potentially go wrong as you work toward these goals? What resources might be of value as you work towards them? Do you have these resources at disposal and if not how will you acquire them? Asking yourself these questions can provide clarity about the types of problems you might potentially face along with the resources and thus can make you more resourceful when the potential setbacks arise.

Assess your situation

Evaluate when challenging situation comes your way. Be clear about what you can achieve by making most of the situation given the external resources that you currently have at your disposal with the support of your internal resources. Reflecting on how you might deal with a problem and then actually solving it when it arises might not always match-up. How you thought things would be might not reflect how things are in real life. Determine the real issue to come up with useful resources.

Assess the situation by asking yourself, What was the cause of this problem? What can potentially be done to solve this problem? Has anyone solved a similar problems like this before? Who could potentially help you to overcome this? What valuable resources could these people have that you could use to solve your problem? Have the ability to leverage to use what others bring into the situation. Look for some viable solutions that you could try to solve when there is no assistance from people. Once you assess the situation, you can find the relevant resources and look specifically how you can apply them to your present situation.

Devise creative solutions 

Being resourceful requires you to tap into your resources more creatively. Know the difference between seeking resources and being really resourceful. Think creatively to utilise the tools and resources that are within your reach. Do you have access to or could you obtain anything that might help with the situation? You should remember that resources aren’t only tools or objects, they also include skills, people or emotional states, knowledge, opportunities as well. Take a stock of your current resources and find creative ways to apply them in problem-solving. Ask yourself, If you apply this idea, what could be possible? What potential insight can be gained from taking this course of action? What new path could this lead you to? See the situation you face from an alternate perspective. Take the situation as an opportunity to take a new course of action that you hadn’t considered before. Develop an open-mindedness to look for creative ways to solve the problem.

Be proactive

If an opportunity presents itself, do not hold yourself back looking for right resources or people to show up. Be more than idle observer. Participate actively and get involved to solve the problem with the available resources and to be part of a solution. Don’t simply react to events, people, challenges and information. Engage and influence people involved so you can make real contribution to the situation. Ask yourself, What the nature of the problem is? What is really needed? Is this truly a crisis or merely an inconvenience or setback? Does it need to be addressed immediately, or can it wait for an appropriate solution? Train yourself to focus on solutions when a challenging situation comes your way.

Shift your perspective

Thinking about the big picture  can shift your perspective to be more open-minded in problem-solving. Decide what you can do in short-term so you can take action and be more productive. Revise specific tasks, roles and responsibilities towards your goals. Seeking information on the work that you are trying to get done or researching and reading will provide necessary insights you need to tweak your approach. Reflect on How effectively did you solve this kind of problem in the past?Is there another way to achieve your goal? What is something very similar to what you need that might also work? What is one more thing you can try to arrive at a solution? to seek new possibilities. Seeing every problem as an opportunity to solve can help you shift your perspective and strengthen your internal resources and drive to get your desired outcome. 

To Conclude,  

How would you rate your level of resourcefulness?

What resources do you already have and how can you use them better?

Where can you potentially be more resourceful? 

How could you be more resourceful the next time in your problem-solving? 

What kind of internal resources should you focus on building to improve your resourcefulness? 

What productive habits will help you in becoming a resourceful person?

Do you often utilise the resources that are within your reach in overcoming difficult situations?

In what ways could you be more innovative and resourceful with the understanding, experiences, skills and resources you already have?

Self-reflecting on above questions will provide necessary insights to improve your resourcefulness.

Accomplishment of your goals is typically the physical manifestation of your resourcefulness. Remember that your resourcefulness is a valuable resource when it comes to getting things done. It is not about having more resources, but it’s about being more resourceful with what you have and it is best attained when you combine the resourceful mindset and skills. Also, there are always certain things that you don’t know and understand, therefore, finding the right people to seek help and ask for advice is important to overcome certain challenges and to solve difficult problems.

Use the above problem-solving strategies to upgrade your internal resources over time so that you can use them in optimal ways. There is no problem too big that cannot be solved and no opportunity too small if you develop a resourceful mindset. Therefore, no matter what your circumstances or position or situation in life, instead of thinking of what you do not have, improve your resourcefulness by making the most of what there is.

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

How to improve your critical thinking

Too often we … enjoy the comfort of opinions without the discomfort of thought.”– J.F.Kennedy

Each one of us perceive and understand the problems, events and circumstances of our lives in different ways based on our thoughts, beliefs and habitual behaviours that we cultivate on a daily basis. How we think affects everything from our ability to solve problems to overcoming obstacles, make decisions both big and small and how we understand meaning, value and purpose. Thinking has been described as the capacity to reflect, reason, and draw conclusions based on our experiences, The ability to think clearly and rationally is important in whatever we choose to do and so is the ability to analyse information and integrate different sources of knowledge in solving problems. But most of the times, our thinking gets stuck in a habit loop like a trigger that leads to a routine and a reward in the end reinforcing said routine. This is because our brains are pattern making survival machines and habits are how it ensures that we don’t have to work too hard about what to do when familiar situations arise. In the same way, we form habits of thought when it comes to how we think about different information, circumstances or situations and tend to internalise patterns of thought like we do habits.

This is one of the main reasons why we are so resistant to change and tend to look at information from a single point of view. Also, What we learn in one context, we tend to apply it to others, mixing up triggers that lead to routine thoughts and perceive information, events or circumstances in single perspective leading to both problems of comprehension and understanding. Because our thinking patterns emerge from mental habit loops, we form a response to experience or information and struggle to solve problems or lack decision-making process or sense of meaning or purpose. This is due to the fact that our current thinking patterns are not adequately suited for arriving at solutions, decisions or right conclusions.

The only way to diversify and make our thoughts better fit the form and shape of a problem or to overcome an obstacle is to seek out new critical thinking patterns. Critical thinking allows you to analyse information from an unbiased and reflective perspective to help trigger new insights and understanding that enables you to find suitable answers to most difficult challenges.

So, what exactly is critical thinking?

According to dictionary meaning, it is the process of thinking carefully about a subject or idea without allowing feelings or opinions to affect you. In other words, it is a way of thinking in which we don’t blindly accept all arguments, opinions and conclusions we are exposed to, but rather, evaluate everything in light of what’s true. If we break that down, the definition of critical thinking is essentially the ability to carefully and deliberately analyse information in order to understand things better. It is the process of thoughtfully considering, analysing and questioning the information we receive from all sources, including other people, news, television and the internet. The main goal of critical thinking is to separate truth from what is false, considering the contexts of issues and getting at the underlying assumptions beneath information we receive.

Understanding critical thinking

Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It’s thinking in this way that prevents us from unconsciously succumbing to the propaganda and manipulations of others. It’s important to note here that thinking critically certainly doesn’t mean that we belittle, disagree with, or undermine anyone else’s perspective – it just means that we’re more committed to the process of evaluating the accuracy on our own. Moreover, ‘critical thinking’ is generally thought of as a mode of thinking in which one improves the quality of thinking by skillfully analysing, assessing, and reconstructing his or her thought by asking questions. In order to be considered as a critical thinker, the person must be reflective, self-aware, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective.

Critical thinkers take an issue and break it down into it’s component parts, analysing an issue from as many angles as possible to come to best possible solution. A critical thinker is able to deduce consequences from what he or she knows and can use that information to solve problems, seek evidence, question assumptions and examine the reasoning. Thinking critically means us making well-reasoned judgments that are logical, rational, non-emotional and well-thought out. Here are few characteristics of strong critical thinkers:

Curiosity or inherent inquisitiveness – instead of taking everything at face value, a curious person will wonder why something is the way it is.

Active listening – To participate in active listening and hear other point of views.

Truth-seeking – A genuine concern to become and remain well-informed in truth.

• Authentic confidence in reasoning, in one’s own abilities to think reasonably, maturely and sensibly.

Open-mindedness – Being receptive to new ideas, divergent world views, all possibilities, interpretations and perspectives.

Flexibility of thought in considering alternatives views and perspectives.

Humility – the willingness to acknowledge one’s shortcomings or being aware of flaws and also your strengths in your thinking.

Self-evaluation– the ability to evaluate their own thinking using standards of reasoning such as clarity, coherence, depth and relevance.

Analytic and are meta-cognitive-they are aware of their thought process and understanding how and why they arrive at particular conclusions.

The value of thinking critically

To improve the quality of our lives, we must establish consistency in our habits, thoughts and new patterns of taking action. The true value of any new skill you learn is in direct proportion to the frequency of its use. In order to take yourself to the next level of productivity or self-improvement in your problem-solving, you must realise that the same pattern of thinking that has gotten you to where you are will not get you to where you want to reach. One of the biggest challenge in self-growth is resistance to change. “Critical thinking is a way to intervene in your thought process,” says Linda Elder, an educational psychologist “It’s a way to routinely and consistently seek problems in your thinking.” With the power of critical thinking, you can free your mind of any thought patterns that no longer serve you. and condition yourself to new empowering alternatives.

The latest research has shown the effectiveness of critical thinking in the workplace that helps in doing so and in coming up with a creative solution to a problem through the process of self-evaluation and self-analysis. Strong critical thinking skills can put you on the path to achieving more of your goals and can help you rid your mind of limiting thinking patterns that you’ve accumulated throughout your life. Research also has shown that employees who possess good critical thinking skills are more creative, outshine their co-workers in job performance, and are more effective leaders as it helps acquire new perspectives and strengthen arguments.

Critical thinking skills allows you to really evaluate facts and data rather than just accepting them at face value. It gives you the ability to identify and understand the logical connections between concepts, detect faulty reasoning, systematically solve issues, and test arguments. Thus enabling you to expand perspectives and possibilities to find new solutions that will help you to overcome problems and challenges by separating facts from opinions, causes from effects, and ideas from assumptions.

How to improve your critical thinking

Critical thinking is a valuable skill that all of us can improve with the right process. A host of logical fallacies and habitual thinking patterns like jumping to conclusions, failing to notice assumptions, thinking hypocritically, being superstitious, blaming others or dismissing other perspectives can cause barriers to critical thinking. Here are some strategies and questions to improve your critical thinking skills in personal or professional areas.

Ask questions to seek clarity

A series of questions help you reveal what you think of an argument or idea. It is important to always ask yourself why something is important and how it connects to things you already know. Formulate questions that will equip you to swift through the information you receive critically to find what you are looking for. Gather thorough objective insights about events and circumstances that are manifesting within your reality. This is achieved through a process of organising, comparing, translating and interpreting a variety of perspectives to distinguish between facts, opinions, and between causes and effects.

Critical thinking Questions to self-reflect: What information do you already have? Why is it important? Where did it come from? Why this is or isn’t significant? What is the point or ‘big idea’ of …? Can you provide reasons for your perspectives and the stance you have taken? What else could this mean? Can you restate this another way? What could have triggered this problem? Do you agree that …? Why or why not? What information would you need to make a decision about …? How could you prioritize …?

Confront your biases and assumptions

Critical thinking is about recognising biases in our own thinking. Thinking critically is all about confronting those biases as often as possible. Analyse each and every circumstance from alternative perspectives. Do not jump to any rushed conclusions or make unnecessary assumptions about the events and circumstances you are experiencing. Break down all the possible assumptions that may be colouring your perception of reality by questioning possible misunderstandings or misleading conclusions. Ask questions to help distinguish facts from assumptions. Gather information and seek to gain insight by asking open-ended questions that probe deeper into the issues.

Critical thinking Questions to self-reflect : Could this be an assumption? Why do I think my assumptions hold here? What things are misinterpreted here? What is another explanation for this? Can this perspective be justified? Is this relevant to the solutions I am hoping to realise? What is most relevant in this? What do others believe about this scenario? Have I already formed any opinions? What are the differences between … and …? How is … related to …?What ideas could you add to … and how would these ideas change it?

Look for alternative perspectives

Whenever you are confronted with a problem, gain clarity from different angles and perspectives. Question yourself and others about the potential causes, reasons, and possible solutions. It is important to self-check to ensure that you take an objective view and recognise your biases. Begin questioning the validity of your perspectives. What are your reasons for saying or holding that perspective?

Critical thinking Questions to self-reflect: What would someone who disagrees with me say? Describe … from the perspective of ….?What do you think about …? Explain your reasoning. Does anyone see this another way? What are the reasons for approaching from this perspective? Have I considered the opposite point of view? How are alternative perspectives justified? How does this perspective apply here in this situation? What else should you consider? If we consider it, how will it change?

Look for evidence

Don’t take everything at face value. Evaluate and assess things that you hear, read and see before you draw any conclusions. When you are presented with news, information or questions, consider the possible solutions and implications of each. As you gather information, consider the motivations of each source and thoroughly examine and investigate the information you are working with.

Critical thinking Questions to self-reflect: What evidence can you present for/against…? How does … contrast with …? what’s the original source of the information? How is this related to? Is this conclusion based on evidence? What is the relationship between? What are the possible causes that triggered this problem in the first place? What possible conclusions can be drawn from this? What evidence can I find backing up these conclusions? What other ideas can justify this? Do you agree that …? Why or why not? What information would you need to make a decision about …?

Be aware of common thinking errors:

To develop critical thinking, you will have to make value judgments rather than being judgmental. It is important to be aware of your own short comings and limitations and prejudices. Evaluate information objectively and be open to new ideas. Be aware of logical fallacies, which are errors in reasoning that make you embroiled into taking sides. Don’t jump to conclusions and practice open-mindedness.

Critical thinking Questions to self-reflect: What assumptions exist? Is your interpretation of the information logically sound? What solutions could you suggest the problem of …? Which might be most effective solution and why? When might this be most useful and why? What possible changes could you make to solve this effectively? What would happen if? What could be done to minimise this problem? What is the best potential solution for this problem? What criteria could you use to assess …?

Pay attention to relevant details

One of the most important part of developing critical thinking skills is learning what details matter. We are exposed to loads of information and opinions everyday that it’s easy to get lost in the details. You need to train yourself which details matter and which don’t. Think about who benefits from a statement and what are the motivations behind their opinions.

Critical thinking Questions to self – reflect: Which details are most important and why? What concepts are at work? What patterns do you notice in …? What is shaping your approach to this situation? What are your concerns? What would need to change for you to have a different opinion? What are the most important parts or features of …? Where is … most/least …? How could you judge the accuracy of? What ideas could you add to … and how would these ideas change it?

So, Are you a critical thinker? and in what areas might you benefit from thinking more critically in certain aspects of your life? Do you always defer to other people’s opinions? How confident are you in your own judgment and reasoning ? Do you evaluate your own thinking? Do you jump to conclusions? Do you try to see things from different perspectives? How receptive are you to new ideas? Do you try to understand reasons behind things? Do you evaluate pros and cons of your decisions?

To-do

• challenge assumptions

• question creatively

• construct, analyse and evaluate arguments

• Be open to alternative perspectives

• discerningly apply values of inquiry

• engage in a wide variety of cognitive skills, including analysing, explaining, justifying and evaluating.

To conclude,

Critical thinking is an essential habitual thought process that is important to cultivate and grow on a daily basis. The better your critical thinking is, the more effective will be your decision-making and more likely you are to achieve your goals. Take some time out to self-reflect on your thoughts by asking yourself critical questions to gain clarity on issues, conclusions, or beliefs. Question deeply to examine or evaluate assumptions and to overcome your habitual limiting thought patterns. With time, practice, and diligence using the above strategies, meaningful thinking can become a part of your daily routines and you will be able to better develop your critical thinking abilities and adequate reasoning,