In 1863, an engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea for a spectacular suspension bridge that would span the river between Manhattan and New York City. Bridge-building experts told him that it could not be done. But Roebling believed that the bridge was possible. He convinced his son Washington—a young, up-and-coming engineer—that the bridge could be built, and the two of them together developed the concept by which it could be accomplished. With the idea proven feasible, they hired a crew of men and began to build their dream bridge.
The project was only a few months into construction when disaster struck. An accident took John’s life, and a short time later, a second accident severely injured Washington. He was unable to talk or walk and was partially handicapped. His mind was still sharp, however, and he still had a burning desire to finish what he and his father had started. Only John and Washington knew how the bridge could be constructed. If the Brooklyn Bridge was to ever become a reality, Washington had to direct the building himself. But how? He was paralyzed.
This was when Washington’s extraordinary resilience and resourcefulness became evident.
Washington could only move one finger. With that one finger, he tapped out some sort of code on his wife’s arm for the instructions of Brooklyn Bridge—for 13 years. She carried his instructions to the builders, and they built the bridge according to Roeblings’ instructions. The bridge was finally completed in 1883.
This story illustrates the quality of resourcefulness—the fifth law of success. Mr. Armstrong wrote in The Seven Laws of Success, “When complications, obstacles, unexpected circumstances appear to block your path, you must be equipped with resourcefulness to solve the problem, overcome the obstacle, and continue on your course.”
Washington Roebling didn’t let a debilitating accident keep him from accomplishing his dream. How do we respond when we are faced with unexpected setbacks?
To be truly successful, you must be able to make the right decisions and take the right course of action to overcome the unforeseen obstacles that will get in the way—to be able to meet the inevitable trials, problems and setbacks. You will encounter difficulties, hazards, hindrances and problems. Some sudden situation will arise that could stop you entirely. To meet these constantly arising problems, you have to apply this fifth law of success, in tandem with the other six laws.
Mr. Armstrong wrote, “I learned a lesson in determination and resourcefulness on my first visit to Niagara Falls. It was on December 25, probably 1913, with a silver thaw. I strolled out on Goat Island, which divides the river just above the falls. At one point there was a huge rock. It appeared as an impassible barrier to that rapid-flowing river, racing to its destination, down over the falls, into the rapids below and on to Lake Ontario.
“I watched, intrigued. Did the rushing waters stop, quit, give up? Not on your life! I was thrilled as I watched the water swirl around the huge boulder—splash on over it, even find a hole through it, dashing, crashing, roaring on toward its goal!” (ibid).
This fifth law of success—this key to problem solving—is about not letting obstacles stop your forward momentum. To be successful, you must apply yourself to overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles, just like the water in the story. Are you easily thrown by the problems that appear in your way?
When unexpected obstacles arise, that is when you need resourcefulness. To be resourceful, you must remain calm, but have the ability to leap into action at once and enact a logical solution. Be sure to seek wise counsel; advice from your parents, good friends and experts will all be of great assistance in overcoming your obstacles. You can’t do it all on your own—you need God (Proverbs 3:5-6). Ask God daily to give you the ability to resourcefully solve the problems you will encounter in life. You don’t have to fear or panic if you are obeying and trusting God. We don’t have to fear unexpected setbacks. God will strengthen and uphold you if you do your part by being close to Him (Isaiah 41:10). Why rely on your own wits? Why rely on yourself when you can get God’s help to get out of any pickle or jam?
Whatever the crisis is, if you are doing your best to please God, He will show you the solution to your problem. God will not give you a trial that you can’t handle, but He will give you a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). He always gives us a way to escape—if we will take it.
Jesus Christ is our primary example. He used all the abilities God gave Him, obeyed all the commandments, and lived resourcefully. He accomplished His goal, no matter what obstacles were thrown in front of Him. He was close to God and obedient, and God gave Him all the tools He needed. You too need to use the talents and knowledge God has given you to live resourcefully. Successful people strive not only to develop, but to multiply their natural abilities with the opportunities that God has given them.
Here are five practical ways to become more resourceful:
1) Remember that you do not know it all. You are young, and you have a lot to learn. Learn from other people’s mistakes and successes.
2) Keep on improving yourself. Learn. Set a goal of reading one good book every month. Spend time with different kinds of people and learn how to relate to them. Travel as much as you can. You grow from your life experiences, and that experience will help you to be more resourceful.
3) Analyze every problem before acting. Think ahead to see the potential problems down the road and foresee how you could solve them.
4) Learn how to maximize what you have. God will make your resources work for you—if you rely on Him.
5) Be positive. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. Nothing is permanent in life. A failure may look like the end of the world, but it really isn’t. There’s always a solution to every problem.
When problems arise, remember the example of Washington Roebling. Don’t get flustered and become useless; rather, calmly assess the situation and come up with a logical solution. This quality of resourcefulness will go a long way to helping you become a success—both in your life now, and in the future.