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Be MacGyver   Leave a comment

One of my favorite shows to watch as a kid was MacGyver.  If you’re not familiar with the show, Richard Dean Anderson played the lead character MacGyver.  MacGyver worked for the Phoenix Foundation and would go around the world problem solving as only he could.  He found himself in all sorts of trouble each week and had to find creative ways to get himself back out of it.  And there in lay the appeal of the show.  You actually looked forward to things going bad for MacGyver because he would come up with the most amazing solutions to the problems he found himself in.  And best of all he’d explain it to you in a voice over so you’d understand the principle behind how his escape contraption worked.  The show was so popular that people started referring to creating unique tools for unique jobs by saying “I’ll MacGyver something together”.

We should all aspire to be MacGyver.  Now I’m not suggesting you get yourself caught by criminals once a week.  Or fly to a foreign locale and get captured by spies.  I’m just saying we should adopt the qualities that made MacGyver the hero every week.

Primarily, MacGyver was just smart and knowledgeable.  Remember that episode where MacGyver spent a lot of time in front of the tv?  Me neither.  However there were episodes that revolved around MacGyver learning more or participating in scientific experiments.  MacGyver clearly liked to learn and apply what he learned to make himself better.  So instead of catching up on your favorite show by binge watching a whole season this weekend, pick up a book on a topic you want to know more about.  Or research stuff online.  Maybe learn a language, or how to knit.  MacGyver liked to learn because he realized everything he did was a tool in his tool bag he could use later.

Another great MacGyver quality is he didn’t complain.  When he got locked in a meat locker and could have frozen to death he didn’t bemoan the fact that people were being mean to him.  He didn’t spend any time wondering why this kind of thing always seemed to happen to him.  No, he immediately got to work figuring out how he could prevail by using what he had at hand to improve his situation.  Complaining wasn’t going to open the door.  The piece of railing going from the light to the door lock, plus some ice he could melt into water using the light bulb, which would then re-freeze and expand popping the lock would.  None of which would happen if he stood around with a “woe is me” attitude.  He just took the situation as it was and did what he had to.

MacGyver never waited for the ideal conditions.  When a madman left an explosive device on a ship he didn’t sit there until he was brought the proper bomb disposal tools.  He used what he had on hand on the ship, like some common cleaning products mixed in a frosting tube to act as a neutralizer to a chemical in the bomb.  He acted with what he had, and used those tools to the best of his abilities.  Therefor every situation was ideal for MacGyver because he saw the possibilities in everything, not the limitations.

He also never gave up.  Plan A sometimes didn’t fix the whole situation.  But you never saw MacGyver saying “Hey I gave it my best shot, oh well.”  No, he went straight to formulating Plan B.  He was trapped in the Phoenix Foundation once with thieves.  He had to improvise a number of devices to get out of that situation.  And he kept making them until the job was done.  Best effort wasn’t good enough for Mac, keeping on keeping on was.

The final trait I’ll mention is the one I loved the most about him, and I mentioned it earlier.  MacGyver always explained what he was doing.  The television is a visual medium.  On the A-Team when the boys got in to trouble they just slapped whatever they could find together and made weapons.  They didn’t explain it, they just did it.  So why did Mac always do the voice over to explain what he did?  It was for the same reason he was always getting himself into trouble.  He was always looking to help others.  He explained because he wanted you to be smart like him.  He explained because he wanted you to think in possibilities, not limitations.  He explained so you would be better too.  And that’s the best trait of all.  Living a life that makes others better as well.

So hopefully in the next week you aren’t stuck fighting an onslaught of ants on a farm.  Hopefully your old buddy Jack Dalton doesn’t drag you into another business deal that gets you both in over your heads.  But there’s a decent possibility some situation will come up needing you to handle it.  So be like MacGyver.  Be smart.  Be resourceful.  Look for the possibilities, not the limitations.  Don’t ever give up.  But most importantly, live a life that makes others better as well.  Have a great week.

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