Resourcefulness Is Not A Guiding Principle

Prime Minister Trudeau was unable to avoid a cute turn of phrase at Davos.  While the idea in it might have some validity, the place and manner of delivery made it sound like a political sound bite and nothing like a plan of action.

“My predecessor wanted you to know Canada for its resources, I want you to know Canadians for our resourcefulness.”

McGyver I suppose.  Essentially drivel, though.  Canadians have often demonstrated the ability to develop excellent solutions not just some resourceful stopgap.  That may be changing.  With leaders at this level of thought, the citizens had better improve at resourcefulness.

Some time ago I wrote about the idea of resourcefulness.  Desenrascanço in the Portuguese.  In that article I talked about it like this:

“Desenrascanço is the ability to solve a problem without having all the needed knowledge or even adequate tools.  It is the ability to use imaginative resources and unconnected knowledge to come to an adequate, if sometimes precarious, solution.  It is not for perfectionists.”

It is usually a stopgap solution.  Better solutions can develop later.

Financial planning is like that.  In the beginning the tools and knowledge are almost unknown.  Even the problems are near undefined.  In the financial planning world you can find a guide.  Someone to help with the urgent problems and someone who can help develop the knowledge of the tools and the problems over time.

Governments don’t work like that.  They want to slap a solution on some problem and move on with the applause echoing.  They tend not to come back to the original scene and fit efficient, sensitive solutions.  They never come back and say, “Oh good, that’s done with, we can stop spending time and money on that problem.”

Resourceful, both for governments and people, works two ways.  Quick solution followed by a better solution, then followed by dismantling the no longer needed resourceful structure.  If you own life insurance to pay off a mortgage, what do you do when the mortgage is paid?  Reallocate the premium right?  Have you ever seen a government do that?

Resourcefulness is important for people.  It lets them fill the space between no solution and good solution.  People know it is not a place to rest.  Resourcefulness demands the next step.  Thoughtful and efficient solution. Resourceful solutions are seldom permanent.

Seek complete solutions and seek help from those who know how.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.


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