How do we utilise resources we already have? – with Figure It Out author Kate Meiner

How do we utilise resources we already have? – with Figure It Out author Kate Meiner

by Suswati Basu
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Being resourceful is the ability to find and use available resources to solve problems and achieve goals. And this is no different in mental health. According to a 2002 British Medical Journal, people living with a mental health issue and clinicians were using new strategies and sources for acquiring health information, including the Internet. Patients therefore were equipped with information from Internet web searches and online support groups before they arrived at a psychologist or psychiatrist‘s office door. Hence, it is a hugely underrated skill!

So how do we use what resources we have to make our lives better?

Thanks to the following guests for participating:

Business coach and author of Figure It Out: How to Harness the Power of Resourcefulness and Achieve Success Kate Meiner.

Crystal Fox, podcast host of Crystal Ball, Clarity of it All

Parenting teenagers expert and psychologist Angela Karanja

Anton Dybal, founder of Next Level Artwork

Here are some of the resources from the show:

An introduction to the book “Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined,” by Scott Sonenshein:

Books looked at this week:

Kate Meiner: Figure It Out: How to Harness the Power of Resourcefulness and Achieve Success

Dr Scott Sonenshein: Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less-And Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined

PS. I do not receive commission for reviewing books and talks.


Exploring how we can master ourselves by looking at how experts say it is possible with your host Suswati Basu.

Intro music

Welcome to episode 25 of How To Be…with me Suswati as your timid presenter, guiding you through life’s tricky skills by taking this learning journey with you.

As part of mental health awareness week, I wanted to think about some of the important tools required to deal with a crisis. With a resourcefulness mindset you are driven to find a way. So how do you build a resourceful mindset?

Crystal Fox of the crystal ball, clarity of it all podcast and I are on a similar journey and we connected this week to speak on the topic. Here is a snippet, but find our full conversation on on June 7.


Our first book is from business coach Kate Meiner with Figure It Out: How to Harness the Power of Resourcefulness and Achieve Success! We spoke this week, and she kindly shared her thoughts with me. Find the full interview on Here she is:


Meiner says skills like self-awareness, grit, your ability to influence, habits, goal-setting, thinking big, and leadership are easier to gain or sharpen when you have the foundational piece of resourcefulness.

First of all, mindset is a key aspect of being resourceful. You need to have a clear idea of who you are and who you want to be. In the absence of a clear destination, you’ll take any route, and end up down any path.

Your mind is there to protect you, going all the way back to ancient times, where men wore fur and hunted wooly mammoths in the freezing ice. Our brains were designed to keep us safe from dangerous situations. Except it’s not a survival state anymore. Our brains can be so focused on keeping us safe that sometimes it holds us back from many other great, amazing things. As a result your mind can default into negative thoughts, convincing you to do and be the opposite. The fear of self-doubt will keep crawling back.

Hence there are three ways to overcome negative thoughts according to Meiner, which are positive affirmations, failing forward and taking massive action. Positive affirmations can help create neural pathways from thinking negative thoughts to positive ones. Failing forward is about learning from the journey and not attempting to achieve perfection. Whilst taking action can help eventually overcome the fears.

Next is setting up habits. Be realistic in setting up a habit, start small and focus on incremental changes because they will compound, over time, and lead to a massive transformation. And try and stay consistent, so don’t miss more than two days in a row, and attach it to an existing habit such as brushing your teeth.

After habits, it’s learning to be self aware but also understanding that anything can be possible. So write down this question: What does my life look life when I’m happiest? Then write your answers. Think in the realm of possibilities. Take 10 to 15 minutes to write how you desire your life to be. And then scale it back to today today, listing ideas for action steps and goals needed in order to make it all happen.

An important part of resourcefulness is problem solving. Your goal is to actually find a solution, which can be done through the art of repetition. Here are a few steps that Meiner suggests:

1. Assess the situation and know what the desired putcome should be

2. Know your lifelines, no one succeeds alone

3. Ask yourself what tools you have at your disposal to try and use

4. Practice by playing games and solving puzzles

After this Meiner says constantly learning is essential to resourcefulness. Whether by watching TED talks, learning new skills via YouTube, or meeting new people – always stay curious!

Being adaptable requires you to be able to quickly match or coincide with whatever you’re surrounded by. So remain open-minded, be flexible with your journey, be able to pivot from one skill to another and have back-up plans.

Being observant is critical as well because paying close attention to detail is great when it helps you gain information that could be used in the future. Meiner recommends sharpening these skills by people watching, looking at behaviour profiles such as the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator to potentially understand how humans behave Also observing body language, and most importantly by listening without interrupting , using empathy, and trying to understand their overall message. Even taking art classes maybe helpful in observing as well as using evaluation forms for feedback. Just be present in the moment.

Think outside the box by being creative. Brainstorming and masterminding when you can so you can become an ideas machine. Surround yourself with people who challenge you to think creatively. And don’t be afraid to be adventurous.

Being productive means being careful with the time you have. Prioritize your most important thing and stick to a schedule. Audit your time and check how much are you wasting? And try find ways to eliminate distractions from your environment.

Asking questions is necessary in this process to becoming resourceful. Questions are your key to understanding and gaining more information. Know who to ask for what you need and have a list of questions to ask yourself, so you can reflect and measure your progress.

And there’s no such thing as a dead end but a list of backup plans. Celebrate your tiny wins in big ways. You’re working on progression, not perfection and remember, perfection is the enemy of production. Breaking things up into smaller, more achievable tasks or goals, whilst also practicing gratitude can help stop a dead end mentality.

Grit is so important because when you’re in the middle and everything around you looks and feels like failure, you have to find a way to keep going.

And discipline = freedom even though it seems like a scary word. Make sure you have a positive association with the word “discipline,” and find others who have good discipline that you admire.

Without inspiration it’s difficult to keep going at times. Finding some mentors and inspirational people to follow and studying their behaviors and their actions, including learning from their mistakes, can help with your own resourcefulness.

And if you have the means, find a coach as they can help guide you to succeed. In the end it’s all about taking action to make changes.

Our final book is from Scott Sonenshein, called Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less-And Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined. Sonenshein is an award-winning researcher, teacher and consultant. Here he is on his YouTube channel.


Dr Sonenshein says people tend to equate success with getting more. As a result, we spend our lives chasing rewards, trying to accumulate resources and desiring what others have. But in actual fact we’re better off focusing on what we can accomplish with what we already have.

He says the entire human conception of success is based on having better stuff than others. This habit is called “chasing” and it pushes us to pursue things we don’t actually need.

For instance, researchers at Vanderbilt University found that people literally tend to perceive their neighbor’s lawn as greener than their own. A healthy green lawn signifies success and prosperity, essentially status symbols. The desire can be so powerful that people work tirelessly to achieve this thus diverting resources.

On the other end of the spectrum from chasing is what’s called the stretcher mindset, which refers to focusing on what you want to accomplish with the resources at your disposal.

In order to have a stretcher mindset, the first step is to feel assured that you’re in control. Just thinking that you’re in charge of the circumstances will help you seize the reins and tap into your creativity. Beyond that, staying mindful of the situation at hand and the resources at your disposal will compel you to be creative with what you’ve got. So you’ll have to recognise your limits and know your parameters.

Dr Sonenshein also says that outsiders are often more innovative than experts. In 20 years of analyzing political issues, the psychologist Phil Tetlock found that experts aren’t any better at predicting future events than your average person, regardless of their professional experience. In most cases, the experts and non-experts offered comparable prognoses.

As people gain experience, they also become stuck in their knowledge, unable to move past conventional approaches. As a result, outsiders tend to overshadow experts. Outsiders are newcomers to a field, people who lack deep experience

Whilst you can’t always be a newcomer, you can think like an outsider. First, explore the world and experience new things that help you see them from a different angle. Next you also need to stay in touch with what you already know so work to share your ideas with others, seeking feedback and learning as you go. From there you can move on to the third step: looking for solutions outside of your own domain. And finally, whatever ideas and innovations you do develop, it’s key to constantly test your assumptions, expecting that most of them will fail.

Planning offers a comfortable roadmap to follow, ensuring that we’ll achieve the best results. But there’s a downside, too. Planning can also cause us to miss out on all kinds of beneficial things including what’s in front of our eyes as well as quick action with back up plans.

That’s why, instead of planning, stretchers embrace improvisation as the key to progress. After all, when we improvise, we free ourselves up to move and use resources in the most efficient way.

Low expectations can hamper your relationship to others and yourself Dr Sonenshein says. Our expectations are essentially images of people or things that we haven’t yet encountered. However, expectations shape more than just first impressions. They also direct feelings in ongoing relationships.

The expectations you hold about yourself can also affect the way you handle challenging situations. That’s because having lower expectations about your abilities will lead you to see challenges as threats, making it harder for you to rise to the occasion. This can be difficult because you’ll have self doubt and when faced with a challenge you’d shy away or choose to remain passive.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Stretchers know that you can overcome such obstacles by developing positive self-expectations, leading to a transformation that allows you to see challenges as opportunities and a chance to learn new skills.

Whether it’s a morning coffee ritual or an evening stroll, everyday routines give you a structure that helps you accomplish more things in a shorter time. And adding a dose of creativity and a willingness to collaborate can also boost your success. Stretchers do this on a regular basis by mixing up combinations in their routine work. And working to beat the competition may be a great motivation, but it’s not as good as working together.

But it’s also important to avoid overstretching – you’ll need to avoid common mistakes to keep yourself well. There’s a difference between being economical and being a cheapskate for example. The former saves to invest in something meaningful while the latter is scared of spending any money at all.

The second risk is that of spreading yourself too thin or looking in too many directions at once. To avoid going down paths that have nothing to offer, you should make your goal your number-one priority. Once you’ve established a base, you can explore new ideas.

Third, keep in mind that changes can often be helpful, but only after you’ve properly analyzed the past. Without this reflection, you risk leaping without learning.

Fourth, while you know now that having high expectations can foster confidence and courage, having unrealistically high expectations is a recipe for disaster.

And, finally, when mixing up your routine, make sure that you strike a balance between novelty and usefulness. Without a good mix of the two, you’ll be in danger of producing a toxic mixture that will kill innovation.

A mental workout is part of maintaining a strong and focused mind. Look around and identify the resources you have at your disposal but haven’t used. Make a list of all these resources along with their potential to help you advance an objective and you’ll have a good sense of where to focus.

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to explore new things. Just set aside a few hours each week to read something new, go to a workshop or spend time working with new colleagues. You never know what kind of ideas you’ll stumble upon. But none of this will be effective if you don’t take breaks to be grateful for the hard work you’ve done. Literally taking a stroll is a good idea. And that age old adage of gratitude.

This can be as simple as setting aside time once a week to write down five things in your life that make you feel gratitude. This will help you see the overall picture.

So to sum up:

Meiner says in Figure It Out that we can become resourceful by learning to change your mindset, creating habits, being able to use your imagination, problem solving, learning, being adaptable and observant l, creative and productive, whilst also asking powerful questions, ensuring you have back up plans, grit, discipline, and inspiration from others.

However, taking action is the only way you will crush the fears, eliminate the doubts, and have enough attempts to get good at something.

Dr Sonenshein says in Stretch that you have all the resources you need to be successful right in front of you, it’s just a matter of identifying and prioritizing them. So, rather than chasing after what other people have, focus on what you’ve got and expand from there. Look at things like a newcomer, beware the pitfalls of planning, get creative with your routine, be sure not to overstretch and engage in some mental workouts. And when you need a breather, remember what you’re grateful for.

He adds take a moment to reflect.

The next time you find yourself rushing into a new project, take a few days off for a trip. Get out of your environment and break free from your routine. By taking this space, you’ll be able to reflect on what you learned from your last project, how your plan went and whether having a plan for this project even makes sense.

I realised that whilst there is a lot to being resourceful, sometimes we have it within us without even realising especially when we’re in tough situations. Knowing when to call for help when you’re in a crisis for example.

And with that we end with parenting teenagers expert and psychologist Angela Karanja and Anton Dybal, founder of Next Level Art Work on their views on being resourceful.


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