What It Does, VS What You Can Make It Do

It’s tempting to look at bottlenecks, moving parts that have gotten stuck, or broken processes.

It’s an easy fix, to find something that’s broken and then fix it. Often, it’s unavoidable.

But to me, it’s not all that interesting. Boring, even.

I have a different approach, which is a ton more fun, much more creative, and often surprisingly more effective than getting things (or indeed: people) unstuck, or fixing broken things.

My approach pulls together a few different notions:

1: Every system is perfect, for the result it produces. Want different results? Modify the system. And everything is a system, including the self.

2: Problems aren’t. This can mean various things, for example:

– Most problems when ignored, disappear, solve themselves, or turn out to be too irrelevant to spend time on.

– Nothing is a problem if you consider yourself a natural-born problem-solver – which you are. Millions of years evolution say so, and QED etc.

– Starting out from the POV that ‘there’s a problem that we need to identify and fix’ keeps your focus as well as your peripheral mental vision, on a narrow band of potential solutions, around an area which in itself often isn’t the actual problem, but only a problematic symptom of some other problem.

(This, incidentally, is why most forms of therapy don’t cause a lot of change, healing, or growth).

3: And finally, my favourite: the hacker mindset, which says:

It’s not about what it does, doesn’t do, or does wrong – it’s about what you can make it do.

Which is why I love the English language so much: you can make it do things it wasn’t meant to, and still you’re making sense. (Come to think of it, I guess all languages are like that, which must be why I love language in general. But I digress).

Not what it does – but what you can make it do.

How awesome is that?

A British inventor (and arguably a looney) named Colin Furze took a regular toaster, and reworked it so the toast flies across the kitchen (see for yourself on Youtube – he’s a funny dude and dead smart)

More serious notes: The Wright Brothers took an idea, and made it fly.

Roger Bannister took a well-trained mind and a ‘try and stop me’ attitude, and was the first to run a four-minute mile.

Einstein and Leonardo each took an ordinary brain, and at some point set its default to ‘perpetual inquiry and questioning’, and that got us a lot.

(They’re both said to credit their accomplishments to their inquisitive nature, and that makes sense: Inquiry invites observation, which causes insight, leading to more ideas interacting, sprouting more insight and new ideas)

Steve Jobs looked at his iPod, and asked: what can I make this do?

An avid kitchen-warrior returning home too late to get groceries, checks the pantry and asks: “What can this become?”

Look at your life, the system that you operate.

Sure there’s things that could be fixed, but before we get to that, ask yourself:

What could this *become*?

If I’d change this, remove that, add something in… what could I create with these ingredients?

How can I hack my life to be the most awesome it could possibly be?



Also published on Medium.

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