This article is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of Catherine Goggia’s book available on Amazon:
LIVE IT! Mastering Positive Attitude Habits,
15 Practical Tips for Managing Your Mindset
Hear Catherine discuss this chapter in this episode of her Relatable Leader podcast:
You can also subscribe to the Relatable Leader podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.
What does it mean to be resourceful?
Resourceful: having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulty.
I want to start by focusing on “quick”. I will share my thoughts on this and will also share information from people who are more qualified than I to address topics related to being quick and clever.
The ability to respond quickly and appropriately to whatever comes up isn’t always directly related to how smart a person is. I think people often misjudge co-workers in this way. If you’ve developed a negative attitude toward anyone because they don’t respond in the moment as you think they should, I caution you to rethink your perspective: you might be missing the person’s strengths. Demonstrating resourcefulness looks different on different people.
I once worked with a person who was resourceful in terms of figuring out where to get information quickly. Brenda didn’t need to know all the answers; she developed systems for quickly accessing answers to customer questions. She was a detail-oriented thinker. She didn’t do well when put on the spot with questions in meetings or even one-on-one. She needed to think about things, perhaps do some research, and come back with an answer. She wasn’t as quick as other employees, but she was resourceful in creating systems to help her provide quick customer service.
My skill in that job was quickly developing relationships on the telephone. I was clever in coming up with solutions to their problems and looking into the future to see what customers might need to maintain or grow their business. I wasn’t good at inputting information in the computer while I was talking with customers – maintaining the customer connection was my priority. Also, it was in that job I discovered I flipped numbers without knowing it. For example, if the product number was 83, it was likely I’d input 38 – but I’d see 83. I created havoc when inputting product numbers, pricing, dates, addresses, etc.
My manager at the time did something tremendously resourceful in terms of playing to people’s strengths. She asked us to rearrange our seating and moved my cubicle next to Brenda’s. I made out-calls, and she input my orders in-between taking in-call orders. If a customer asked a question, I’d repeat the question back to the customer to confirm I’d heard it correctly, and if I didn’t know the answer to the question, I gave Brenda a sign – especially if the question was about part numbers – and she quickly accessed her systems and provided answers for me. Her organization skills and systems supported my expertise on the telephone and helped me provide tremendous service to customers in one call.
My quick responses were supported by a clever system behind the scenes. We grew the business and my “spiffs” were shared with Brenda. When I became manager, I set her up for success by letting her know which questions were going to come up in meetings so she could think about them and succeed in front of her coworkers.
I believe my ability to be resourceful – both quick and clever – has been foundational to my success in leadership roles. Like Brenda, I don’t have all the answers, but I quickly take action to figure things out. If I can’t find answers on my own, I quickly connect with people who know more than I do about a topic.
I’m clever enough to apply what I’ve learned to the situation I’m working on and the next situation, etc. I once had a manager who said I was one of the most brilliant people she’d ever met. I was not comfortable with that compliment because I don’t think of myself as brilliant – I am resourceful, so I may appear brilliant in some situations. Knowing this helps me have a positive attitude!
I think practicing resourcefulness can benefit you in similar ways.
I believe resourcefulness requires an open mind. A fixed mindset closes down your view of available resources and options, and can limit your enthusiasm for learning new information and skills. A fixed mindset can close down or detour your career path.
An open mind fuels resourcefulness, which allows you to see and experience an abundance of options on your way to achieving your career goals. An open mind is the source of innovative thought and resourcefulness supports your ability to turn thoughts into actions. An open mind helps you recognize the strengths of others and paves the way for resourceful teamwork based on strengths and weaknesses.
My theory is resourcefulness contributes to positive attitude habits because the actions that support resourcefulness create momentum. Resourcefulness leads to learning. The learning makes you more adept at taking action. Consistent action creates momentum. And then you face the next opportunity to be resourceful. This is not just one habit in motion; it’s a resourcefulness routine you can create throughout your lifetime.
LIVE IT! is being capable to handle most situations. This self-esteem booster supports a positive attitude. Resourceful people focus on process while simultaneously developing a Plan B in case Plan A doesn’t work out as expected.
There is something specific you can do to increase your ability to be quick and clever.
As part of my orientation in college classes, I talked with students about the importance of drinking water and moving their bodies every day. Why? Without water and activity, our bodies become toxic.
It’s tough to master positive attitude habits when your body is toxic.
If employees don’t take decent care of themselves, they tend to burn out too early in their days. They don’t have the energy to be resourceful because they struggle to stay alert, engaged, and complete their basic tasks.
I value scientific research and science brings more credibility to this tip than my observations alone. A book I recommend for you is “Brain Rules – 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School”. It’s science written in a language average people like us can understand. I want to share a few excerpts from the chapter about exercise to you can clearly link it to your ability to be resourceful.
“Evolutionary history…we moved…up to 12 miles a day…That means our fancy brains developed not while we were lounging around but while we were working out.”
“A lifetime of exercise can result in a sometimes astonishing elevation in cognitive performance, compared with those who are sedentary…Exercisers outperform in tests that measure…reasoning, attention, problem-solving…ability to reason quickly and think abstractly.”
“If all you do is walk several times a week, your brain will benefit.”
Chapter seven in this same book is titled, “Sleep Well, Think Well.” The chapter includes scientific research validating the importance of getting enough sleep. I think this is important because I can advise you to have a resourceful mindset, but if you are so tired you can’t think straight, being resourceful may be out of reach. Check out the book to learn more, but for now consider restructuring your day so you can get more sleep if needed.
This chapter includes limiting beliefs, supporting beliefs, action assignments, and illustrations.
I am including a topic I think might be useful for some readers: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
This topic is appropriate for the Be Resourceful section because I’m learning how resourceful people with ADHD have to be when they figure out work-arounds to compensate for issues caused by ADHD. I am learning they might construct the work-around before recognizing they have ADHD. I’ve heard many people say they have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or ADHD to explain a certain behavior, but when I ask if they’ve been diagnosed, the answer is usually, “No”. So let’s start there: if you think you might have ADHD, get diagnosed so you know what you are – or are not – dealing with.
By looking online or making a few calls, you should be able to find out if there is a counselor in your community who specializes in ADHD. A counselor may test for ADHD and then provide counseling services for you, or this person might recommend another counselor for the follow-up.
The reason I think it’s important to include ADHD gets back to the definition of resourceful: having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulty.
For people with ADHD, this might prove extremely difficult if we interpret “quick” as “in the moment”. For people with ADHD, they are better able to tap into their resources if they know when to “buy time” so they can respond appropriately after accessing their critical thinking skills – this option is sometimes more appropriate than knee-jerk reactions without thought (as for all of us!).
I think of ADHD as missing a filter: blurting out comments that aren’t useful or appropriate, or saying nothing when you should say something (this is just the tip of the iceberg on this subject, but it’s important to consider). People with social skills filters intact can typically offer – at the very least – a neutral comment if they need to buy time. Your social skills filters also alert you to those moments when a response is expected and productive. People with these skills might say something like, “I know I need to respond right now and I’m at a loss for words. However, what you’re telling me is important and I need to think about it because I care about you,” or, “Because your contributions to this team are excellent and what you have to say is important to me,” – or some version of these main concepts.
Another way I visualize the condition is two wires with a bit of a gap. People who don’t have ADHD: their spark jumps the gap to connect the signal to the other wire. People with ADHD: that spark misfires, not connecting at all, or connecting to the wrong wire.
Please understand, I’m not an expert on this subject, I’m simply sharing how I make sense of the situation when interacting with a person who has ADHD. I have been confused by ADHD behaviors, thinking, “This person is so smart, doesn’t he/she know better than to behave this way?” I’ve learned it isn’t about intelligence.
In other situations I might ask a person, “Why!? Why do you do that or say that?!” or, “Why do people have to explain to you why this isn’t okay?”
The answer? “I don’t know.” That answer is difficult for me to fathom. When a person is talking about their own behaviors, I would think they could figure out why they are doing what they are doing. I’m asking you about you, so you must know, right?
Wrong. I’ve learned there are times when the answer truly is, “I don’t know.” It’s that missing filter or gap between the wires stirring up confusion.
In the college classroom and in the work place, I’ve observed the challenges people face in their relationships and with task management due to that missing filter.
I’m bringing up ADHD in this book for a specific reason: ADHD behaviors can come across as an attitude issue. ADHD behaviors can break trust and dislodge credibility. If you have ADHD, getting educated so you can manage your behaviors will help you master positive attitude habits. If you are already in a leadership position, learning more about ADHD will assist you in leading people who are dealing with this condition. I’ll give you one example.
Someone I know struggled in a leadership role because of her responses when people asked questions she didn’t expect. She is very intelligent, an expert in her field, and very friendly in general terms. She has a reputation for holding vast knowledge about organization operations outside of her own department, so she is a valuable resource for employees beyond her own team. Being able to answer questions is a core competency for the role she holds. ADHD responses were hurting her work relationships. She felt she should answer questions in the moment, but that’s not how her brain works – those sparks were misfiring.
I suggested she train herself to say, “That’s a good question. I need time to think about it. Can I get back to you?” It seems so simple, but she told me this response has improved her work days because people aren’t mad because of her inappropriate reactions.
Being resourceful includes knowing yourself well enough to know how you need to manage in-the-moment situations. When is it important to act immediately, and when is it okay to buy some time?
If this topic relates to you, please seek out information from people who are subject matter experts. They can help you understand your behaviors and you can learn how to cope using techniques to support your success. There are books, online articles, counselors, and maybe even online groups. Here are some quotes and resources that might interest you:
“It’s hard to be told what you are doing is not what you are supposed to do. You can use practical tools to transform your life. By learning to focus attention in a new way, you can actually strengthen the very brain areas that are creating challenges in focusing and maintaining attention. You can also learn how to balance your emotions to create and nurture more rewarding relationships. It’s amazing, but true.”
Dr. Lidia Zylowska, The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD: An 8-Step Program for Strengthening Attention, Managing Emotions, and Achieving Your Goals,
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Viktor Frankl, Man’s search for Meaning
“My experience is what I agree to attend to.”
William James, The Principles of Psychology
If you are diagnosed as having ADHD, it might be helpful to seek out available support groups or clubs in your area. Having connections to similar people who don’t use the condition as an excuse, but strive to understand it in an effort to become as healthy and productive as possible might bring increased value to your overall life experience.
Being around “your people” could potentially highlight for you the many benefits of being ADHD. I suspect there are famous people who accomplished great things by channeling their ADHD energy into specific channels of interest, but who didn’t realize they had ADHD because the condition wasn’t known yet.
I recently saw an image on facebook that pictured school children with the caption, “ADHD or Poor Upbringing?” The idea is how crucial parenting is so children enter school with manners – including don’t interrupt, the ability to pay attention even when they are not the focus, understanding of how to deal with a variety of emotions, knowing their words can help or hurt, and facing consequences when their behaviors are inappropriate.
It doesn’t help to tell yourself, “Nobody likes me,” or “They don’t like me.” The important work is to identify the specific behaviors that have become relationship breakers and work on changing those behaviors.
Getting diagnosed and understanding what may or may not be the root cause of some of your behaviors might be the key to managing your mindset and establishing positive attitude habits. Your career may depend on it.
“I have more thoughts before breakfast than most people have all day!” Source unknown
“ADHD is not a life choice or a joke. It is real and it is hard.” Amber Griffith
“I always have to monitor myself. It’s exhausting,” said the person with ADHD.
“It’s exhausting for me, too,” said her partner.
“Having ADD or ADHD makes life paradoxical. You can super focus sometimes, but also space out when you least mean to. You can radiate confidence and also feel as insecure as a cat in a kennel. You can perform at the highest level, feeling incompetent as you do so. You can be loved by so many, but feel as if no one really likes you. You can absolutely, totally intend to do something, and then forget to do it. You can have the greatest ideas in the world, but feel as if you can’t accomplish a thing.”
Dr. Edward M. HallowellAuthor, Delivered From Distraction