Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Building an Intellectual Toolkit

Have you ever used a dime to adjust a screw? If you have, you've turned a coin into a makeshift tool. If not, you can probably think of other ways you have turned available materials into tools. Archaeologists have found evidence of tool making in early man. Even so, we frequently overlook tools that others point out for us. Let's look at some examples.

Anthony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Brian Tracy and other teachers of success deliver their wisdom to us in many formats. Their books, articles, audios and movies al encourage us to change and most contain tools for implementing that change. Sometimes the authors explicitly identify tools, but even if they don't you should look at the material for the tools included within. Here are a few examples.

Questions are tools when they get us to think about the challenges we face. If you don't take a moment to consider a question seriously, the value you can get out of the material is severely limited.

Exercises are sometimes included in or at the end of each section. Take a good hard look at them. If they are relevant for you, do the work. You may want to keep a journal for doing this kind of work in.

Lists are another tool authors use to organize things. Navy crewmen are taught to follow the written instructions, no matter what. If you don't have a battleshp at stake, following a list that religiously may not be essential, but it can be useful. By creating a list when you can thionk clearly, you're less likely to miss something when youre busy. If you do something different, it may be time to update the list.

Most people don't read these material, much less identify and use the tools they contain. Of course, most people don't want to be "most people" and you probably don't either. Successful peope do the things unsuccessful people aren't willing to do. If you want to separate yourself from the pack, here are a couple things you can do right away.

As you discover a tool, catalog it. Identify the source, the author, and the context in which the too applies. Build a virtual toolbox so you can get back to an idea when you need it for yourself or someone else. To a man with only a hanmer, every problem looks like a nail, but the more tools you have the broader your perspective can be and he easier some problems are to solve. When it comes to problems, only nails are really nails.

Do the work that others aren't willing to. At the very least, ask the questions that are posed to you even if you aren't willing to take action on them. If you put the question on the back burner, your subconcions may deliver the answers later.

Finally, keep in mind that problems are solved by people, not the tools they use. Tools exist to serve you, not the other way around.

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