According to the dictionary, to be resourceful means able to act effectively or imaginatively, especially in difficult situations. Of all the skills and qualities that enhance the joyfully jobless journey, none is more valuable than resourcefulness.

The poster child for resourcefulness was Angus MacGyver, hero of the television series that captivated audiences in the late eighties and early nineties. MacGyver dazzled audiences with his inventive use of common objects—including his trusty Swiss Army Knife—to foil the bad guys and get himself out of desperate situations. MacGyver was the master of improvising solutions in a matter of minutes.

While MacGyver was fascinating he was also fictional. Less dramatic, but equally effective, resourcefulness goes on everywhere, every day. Consider Walter Swan, a retired plasterer and eighth grade flunkout who harbored a dream of his own.

For years, Swan had entertained his wife and their eight children with stories about growing up in the deserts of Arizona. Although he could barely read or write, Swan had a dream of turning his memories into a book. He taught himself to type with two fingers and began writing down his stories. His wife corrected and retyped the book and Swan optimistically sent his manuscript to several publishers. They all turned him down.

Discouraged by the rejection, Swan packed the manuscript away for ten years. But the dream of publishing success wouldn’t go away. Then Swan got the idea to publish it himself. He mortgaged his house, bought a computer which his wife learned to use, and bravely ordered 1,000 copies of Me ’n Henry. His exhilaration dimmed somewhat as he tried to interest bookshops in carrying his beloved journal. He found few takers.

He managed, however, to sell his first 1,000 copies and that was all the encouragement he needed. There’s got to be a way to sell even more copies he reckoned. What if he opened his own bookstore? He scouted around the near ghost-town of Bisbee, Arizona and found an empty space next door to the town’s only bookstore. It was just what he was looking for.

This bold move turned him into a bit of a celebrity. His One Book Bookstore brought him loads of national publicity. His days became filled with chatting with the numerous tourists who stopped by to purchase his book and have their picture taken with the author. Forty years after he first began working on his dream, Swan’s personal resourcefulness made it come true.

“If I were to wish for anything,” mused Soren Kierkegaard, “I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never.” That’s the essence of resourceful thinking. The eye which sees the possible becomes the means to start things moving.

A simple way to expand your own resourcefulness is to give up any thoughts that begin with “If only,” and replace them with thoughts that begin with “What if?” “What if” questions open the door to new possibilities, while “if onlys” keep us stuck and helpless. It’s astonishing, really, what a difference two little words can make. “If only I had more customers,” can become, “What if I tried one new marketing idea every week?” “If only I could spend a month in Spain,” becomes “What if I found someone in Spain to exchange houses with in September?” You get the idea.

The resourceful person approaches problem-solving with the belief that there’s never just one way to accomplish anything. There’s an amazing spectrum of ways to do even the simplest things. The same is true for the complex. Be focused on what you want and flexible about how you achieve it. Like Walter Swan, the resourceful person knows that the possibilities are endless and like MacGyver, proves it.


Although the description for Follow Through Camp doesn’t mention resourcefulness, that’s really the focus of that event. You’ll discover that you’re even more resourceful than you may have thought and leave with more options than you had when you arrived. There are still five spots available in the upcoming Follow Through Camp which happens on September 11 & 12 in Chaska, MN.

Demonstrate your own resourcefulness by taking advantage of the Early Bird enrollment which expires on August 15.