The Hammer and Nail Paradox

We humans have much to celebrate.  We invented the internet, the motorcar and the smartphone. We can even fly!  Personally, I can't claim to have been involved in any of these marvelous things, but I am still proud of what we humans have achieved.

From an early age, we are encouraged to choose a career, many of us pursuing mastery in a particular area of expertise.  With over 7 billion people on the planet, it is certainly an accomplishment to be recognised as being at the top of one's game.

'I hit nails'

Imagine for a moment that you were indeed a hammer.  What would your purpose in life be?  Would it be to simply hit nails?  Would it be to support construction?  It might be to help put a man on the moon.   Regardless of how lofty the purpose, chances are that you will consciously or unconsciously have one.

A few years at hammer school and with a bit of experience under your belt, you become recognised as one of the best hitters of nails anyone has ever seen.  Eventually, even non-hammers start to seek your advice about various challenges they are experiencing.  "I need to find a way to improve communication amongst the rest of the tools."  Immediately you can see the answer - I can use morse code to simply tap the message to everyone.  Problem solved!

Not everything is a nail

I am happy to admit that this is the most obvious statement that anyone could possible make - of course everything is not a nail.  However think about it for a moment.  As humans, we see what we see, and we have no clue about what we can't see.  The lens through which we view our world defines the type of solution we think is best.

This is true in many aspects of our existence, from our personal life through to what we experience at work.  Consultants are often the hammers who see juicy ready-to-hit nails everywhere.  Every solution will resemble a hammer, otherwise they don't get paid!!

How many nails are you seeing on a day to day basis?  Not everything is a nail.

JUICY TIP:  Beware of people who try to sell you cookie-cut solutions as one-size-fits-all rarely fits anyone properly.  And where possible, try to look beyond what you can immediately see, not everything is a nail.