Last week I had the pleasure to be invited to be the keynote speaker for CDW at their Hispanic Heritage event hosted by the HOLA Business Resource Group in their headquarters in Chicago. The name of the keynote was Resourcefulness is in our Roots. To me, resourcefulness is a mixture of innovation, creativity and ingenuity combined with, the people factor. Obviously, you can be resourceful on your own but understanding the connection and the role that people around you play in making you successful supercharges what you are trying to accomplish. This is why.
— CDW Careers (@CDWCareers) October 10, 2018
The problem with abundance
It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and only fixate our minds on the problems and difficulties that surround us, as often, there are many. Deadlines that are too tight, goals that seem impossible to accomplish, difficult workplace situations, you name it. When all these things happen, many of them at once, it’s hard to keep our eye on the ball and push through. That’s where my story comes in. It’s a story of personal struggle in incredibly difficult circumstances and how I overcame the obstacles against all odds to come to the United States and create a bountiful life for my family.
When I speak to audiences from many walks of life, after the speech, people always approach me, and they reflect on how many resources we have around us that we take for granted.
Finding new uses
Living in a country where resources are plentiful, we develop “functional fixedness”. According to Wikipedia, this is “a cognitive bias that limits a person to use an object only in the way it is traditionally used”. Why is this limiting? It’s easy to find or rely on the perfect tool or device for every specific use. The problem is when you can’t find or simply don’t have access to that tool, that software or that resource. This is when many people give up, however, this is usually an opportunity to innovate, invent and solve problems in your business and personal life that can lead to true transformation.
Growing up in Cuba, functional fixedness wasn’t an option. There are no Home Depots, Amazon Prime and supplies of any kind are extremely scarce. With time, you learn to see things as what they can be or do and not necessarily as what they were originally designed for. First, you learn to transform objects around you, you learn to use the electric motor from the broken washing machine to make a fan and make simple inventions that improve your everyday life. Later on, I learned to use this same skill to look at businesses, processes and people and push the functionality of things and the capabilities in people to accomplish amazing results. These are some of the skills that winning teams eventually develop.
The keynote jolts audiences into rethinking business practices and career moves and, in the workshop, we get to work at a deeper level to show people and teams their amazing untapped potential. I know for a fact that everyone is creative but resourcefulness, even though it comes natural to some, is a learned skill. In some of us, it was a matter of survival, in other cases, it can be taught and learned to continuously improve our outcomes in life and work.
The audience at CDW gave us really positive feedback on the speech and they reminded me of something very important with the commemoration of the Hispanic Heritage Month. No matter how much we accomplish, it’s important to stay humble and true to our roots.