Make It Happen Monday – Improvise, Adapt, Overcome


This weekend I had the good fortune to get together with some buddies and have a brewing party for this coming year’s Oktoberfest beer. I don’t know if you’ve ever actually brewed beer before but it’s a fair little undertaking, especially for the home brewer trying to do about 30 gallons at a time. Given that we also tend towards “seat of our pants” operations, it goes without saying that the whole beer brewing adventure was a string of minor emergencies from start to finish. And, like all good disaster situations, there were some things to be learned if you kept your eyes open.

One of the first steps in the process is grinding about 50 pounds of grain so that it can be used in the as the base. With an old school hand grinder, this turned out to be a much more substantial undertaking than we’d envisioned. There were some sad faces as realization started to set in that it was looking like it could be a very long morning of delay and sore elbows for everyone until my client Lee channeled his inner Marine: Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome

Lee's on that grind!

Next thing you know there was a bent pot hook stuck into a power drill and we were grinding grain like nobody’s business and on our way to a delicious beer this Fall!

Now, obviously this wasn’t some sort of life or death situation. We certainly could have kept grinding by hand and it would have been fine. However, we had a problem of serious pain-in-the-ass proportions and we would have been one grumpy crew by the time it was all said and done. Instead of accepting our fates, we decided to step back, put our heads together, and work up a solution (turning Lee loose with a power tool).

There’s something to be learned from that. I grew up on a farm in Maine. For us improvising is a way of life. To this day there’s not much I can’t fix with some wire, a screwdriver, and the obligatory duct tape. I think the ability to improvise is one of my best qualities and something I’m truly thankful for in my upbringing.

Improvising is more than just taking some parts and making something useful for it. It’s a way of looking at life and obstacles. Too many people are sidetracked by challenges. Life is full of hard shit. Sometimes you’re not going to have the right tool or the right skill set to overcome those challenges head-on. Them’s the breaks, so to speak.

Those who will be successful are the ones who won’t let those challenges beat them. Instead they will Improvise. They will Adapt. They will Overcome.

Are you on the road and can’t make it to your gym? Run the stairs at your hotel and do a bodyweight exercise at every landing. Keep going until you’re tired. Improvise.

You’re at a wedding and surrounded by all sorts of killer food and you’re afraid you’ll blow your diet? Hit the veggie platter (because you know damn well nobody’s touched it) and eat a full plate of raw vegetables BEFORE you go after the tastier stuff. Adapt.

You just lost out on a major promotion at work? Double back, look at what happened, and establish your value… or find a company that appreciates it. Overcome.

You don’t have to accept what life gives you at face value. You can take what’s given and use it to create what you wanted in the first place.

It’s Make It Happen Monday. What are you doing to overcome your challenges?

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