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Author's profile photo Jason Cao

Coach’s Corner – Which Verb Came First – MacGyver or Google?

It wasn’t just his hair I admired. I mean, for most guys (and gals) Richard Dean Anderson’s densely packed, fluffed and fabulous, mullet or mane of layers would be a hair-dream come true. In the 80s and 90s television series, MacGyver, Richard Dean Anderson played the main character who chooses to carry a Swiss army knife instead of a gun, to beat the bad guys and champion social justice. What I admired most about MacGyver was his creativity. He uses his scientific knowledge and military training to solve problems with the most unlikely resources around him (like that time he diffused a rocket with a paper clip – Phew! That was a close one!).

Creativity can help us out of some tough spots. While there are plenty of MacGyver-moments and opportunities around us, what’s holding us back from developing those skills and seizing the opportunities to let our inner-MacGyver’s shine? In an older blogpost, I’ve established that creativity is a skill we can all learn and develop. I actually argued humans are born with creative abilities (setting us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom), and it’s our education system, and other corporate or government protocols that have suppressed our natural curious instincts.

Creativity is important in this time of a global pandemic, because it is one of those enabling skills that forms a growth mindset, a perspective that there are more possibilities in spite of changes and hardships, that we can persevere and overcome and create an even better outcome. Applying creativity in times of change is seen as “innovation,” and we all know what happens to companies who don’t innovate. πŸ™

How to become more creative:

There are already many books written to help use be more creative, such as by using design thinking methodologies, and asking more open-ended questions (like “what if …?”).

I like to focus on internal and external forces that might either help or hinder me in becoming creative.

Internal forces:

  • What is my level of curiosity, and how can I increase my curiosity?
  • Do I have a growth mindset, and how willing am I to learn and apply new techniques?

External forces:

  • What’s the environment like around me at home, school, work, or community? Is it safe for me to share ideas, or will I face reprisal, reprimand, repercussion or ridicule?
  • How much space and time have I been given? (Our understanding of available resources is as much an internal constraint as it is an external one – remember MacGyver, who does the best with what he has?)

My personal favourite creativity technique comes from tapping into my inner-child. I remember seeing the children board books where different animals or objects can be split up and re-assembled to create brand new objects. (See here, for example:

Similarly, I would pair the most unlikely of components together to solve a problem. The results don’t need to be original but are novel enough to be useful, and to spur new ideas and challenge old ways of thinking.

Here’s an example of re-using some discarded wooden creates and turning them into a shoe-rack I needed.


If you’re still reading, I’ll reward you with the answer: MacGyver came first before Google. So, next time you need to solve a problem, let’s MacGyver before we Google! πŸ™‚

What tips would you like to share for increasing creativity?

Check out more blog posts in this series: Coach’s Corner.

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      Author's profile photo Mary Odabashian
      Mary Odabashian

      One of my tricks ... grab a paper and pen, eat a piece of chocolate, get cozy, pick a starting word and draw a mind map.

      Author's profile photo Jason Cao
      Jason Cao
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Mary!
      Nice! I love mind mapping, especially with a side of chocolate!
      Chocolate doesn’t ask stupid questions. It understands.

      Author's profile photo Abirami Sundaresan
      Abirami Sundaresan

      Nice article with a creative title - "Which verb came first ?" πŸ™‚

      My answer for "How to beΒ  more creative?

      1. Believe that even a small, trivial thing can play a major role.
      2. Never hesitate to take to try weird things like Turning a Old Water filter to a compost bin πŸ™‚
      Author's profile photo Jason Cao
      Jason Cao
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for reading the post and for your creativity tips, Abirami! πŸ™‚

      Love the trying weird ideas approach!