Sunday, 30 October 2011


As a teenager, I was a huge fan of the TV show, MacGyver, starring Richard Dean Anderson. The character MacGyver was a former Special Forces agent who worked for a think tank organization called the Phoenix Foundation. MacGyver was hired to solve problems that no one else was capable of solving, and he used his vast knowledge of science (mainly chemistry) to come up with novel solutions to the problems he faced, most of which were life threatening.

The real appeal of this show was not a broad-shouldered hero figure, bearing weapons of personal destruction, who rescued an attractive woman in distress every week. Possibly the most entertaining aspect of MacGyver was the intrigue and mystery in each episode: how will MacGyver solve the next problem using little more than his trademark Swiss Army knife, a paperclip and a candy bar? In the pilot episode, MacGyver used a chocolate bar to seal an acid leak and the lens from a pair of binoculars to redirect a laser beam. Although some of his solutions might seem improbable, they do demonstrate the value of creative problem solving.

MacGyver was a hero figure for me at an impressionable age, who led me to believe that there are always alternatives and always more than one solution to a problem. One did not always need to approach a problem from the front (or attack an enemy's front line). In a very real sense, MacGyver taught me to think laterally as a young man, and I wholly embraced the concept, adopting this way of thinking. As an accountant, I found that this form of thinking- which at the time I referred to as creative problem solving-helped me to solve problems.

MacGyver used intelligence, a vast knowledge of science and lateral thinking to earn himself a reputation as the man to call when a difficult problem arises. Likewise, if you learn to use your intelligence, your vast knowledge and a heavy dose of lateral thinking, you may earn your own reputation and be surprised by the difficult problems you are able to overcome.

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