A Bigger Hammer?

When you've tried everything else, it's time to find a better tool.

It’s not the arrow it’s the Indian.

Have you heard that one? Another version of the same thing is…”it’s a bad workman that blames his tools”. I’m sure that’s true most of the time, but not always. Sometimes it’s the tool. If you’re working as hard as you can and not getting the progress you need, don’t keep blaming yourself. Maybe you need a different tool.

All I needed was two hooks.

I had something I needed to hang in my house and all it was going to take was two new hooks. A simple job. No need to call the carpenter, I could do it. I could do it in a minute.

After all, I have a degree in construction from Georgia Tech. I’ve built over 80 new houses. This would be a piece of cake.

I got a ladder from the garage and grabbed a hammer and a hole punch. Up the ladder I went to complete my task. The goal was to use the hammer to tap the punch into the crown molding creating an easy spot to screw in the hook. Simple.

Unfortunately the ladder was a little too short, creating a lot of wobbling at the area where the hammer was to supposed to make contact with the hole punch. I fought to maintain my precarious balance as I flailed away. The resulting ordeal went on for 10 painful minutes during which I whacked my fingers five times for every once I tapped the hole punch.

Another annoying development was the fact that the few times I did make contact with the punch, it didn’t seem to make any impression on the crown moulding.

I assumed I needed to bear down, focus and hit that stupid punch with more force. This meant that for every much more serious tap I gave the punch, my fingers also enjoyed the pleasure of getting hit harder at a 5 to 1 ratio.

Since I wasn’t going to admit defeat, I kept on flailing away.

A simple project had turned into an ordeal I didn’t need. Eventually the hole got punched enough to get the screw started and installed. One down, one to go.

As I repositioned the ladder for phase 2 of the battle, a thought jumped into my head. “Why not get a bigger hammer and a different punch?” So I did.

Result? In one minute I had the new hole done AND the screw hook installed. I didn’t need a sledge hammer. I just needed a little bit more power. When I got it, bingo!

The point? While it’s great to take responsibility for the results you’re getting, sometimes your problem may not be you. It may be your tool. If you’re working, your technique is good and yet you just aren’t getting results, the problem has to be somewhere else.

You have to change something quick or you’ll get frustrated and give up. Only a robot would keep flailing away without results. Humans need to see their efforts are worth it.

Back to the arrow and the Indian.

The truth is sometimes it IS the arrow. The arrow may be too short, it may be crooked. Not all arrows are created equal. And no matter how good the indian is, he can’t make a short, bent arrow knock down a buffalo.

So when you find yourself in a situation where you just can’t make things work…

Don’t quit, don’t question yourself…just get a bigger hammer.

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