Stop Looking At What You Don’t Have – Start With What You Do Have!

Expert entrepreneurs start with what they have according to Sara Sarasvathy of Effectuation fame – the subject of a few of my more recent posts.  Its the Bird In Hand Principle.

And nowadays, everyone needs to start to think like an entrepreneur…even corporations.

The sheer unpredictability of our environment demands this.

(In fact you may want to check out this book on Corporate Effectuation.)

But before we go and take inventory of what we have, let’s watch this very apt and inspiring video ad…

Who am I?  What do I know? Whom do I know?

Remember I had also added the question “What resources do I have access to?

In the video above, the family did not have access to ice-cream.  But they had pineapples and ice!

I am going to answer these questions for myself.  Hopefully it will give you some ideas as to how to do it as well.

a. Who Am I?

The answers to this question are shaped by my own unique life experiences.  Your answers will be shaped by your own too.

This is a very important question to consider when we discuss Personal Branding (in another post).

To help you answer this question, I am breaking it down into smaller sub-questions.

What do I care deeply about?

I value freedom to choose what work to do, how much work to do and who I work with.

I want my life to matter.  To have counted for something.

I love happy endings much more than sad endings.

I love siding with the underdog…the only problem I have here is if the underdogs are playing against my team!

I value happiness and excellence in my work and life.

I value being true to myself, in being who I am.

What do I really believe in?

I believe in the power of our thinking.  The way we see things can be the difference between fulfillment and regret; success or failure; constructive or destructive; joy or disappointment.

I believe that most of the time, mental resources are more important physical resources.

I believe everyone should harness their mental resources to the fullest.  I also believe that most have not.

I believe everyone should cultivate and grow their mental resources.

What gets me excited?

When I see the light!  And when I help others see the light too!

Maybe that is why I went into teaching in the first place.

What are my gifts and strengths?

I got help from Gallup’s Strengthsfinder system to identify my strengths.  The Strengthsfinder test/report came free with the purchase of the book. Not sure if it is still the case.

You should feel free to use other tools too.


This is the list of my top 5 strengths. And surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) the list gels with the answers to the earlier questions.

Intellection has a lot to do with thinking.  I like to learn and grow – so I tend to thrive in changing environments more than most.  I am strategic so I like to think of strategies for success for times like these.  I am futuristic – you probably can tell as I like to discuss future trends.  And finally, I am an activator – I like to put theories and strategies into actual practice.

By the way, strengths tends to be innate as opposed to skills which can be acquired (according to Gallup).

Knowing who you are is important as a freelancer.  Because by going through these questions up to this point, you will have greater clarity of your passion and strengths.  You can then be happy and successful by playing to your passion and strengths.   So I am doing just that when I am writing this blog.

b. What Do I Know?

What skills, knowledge and expertise do I have?

I have adequate IT skills and great analytical skills.

I can tell jokes like a standup comedian (or so my participants tell me!)

I can also tell stories.

People also often tell me that I simplify complex ideas and make them practicable.  Maybe that is the activator streak in me.

Writing research papers that not many people read.

Writing in general.

I am able to think on my feet.

I have deep knowledge of Systems Thinking and other Organisational Learning tools and processes.

What experience to do I have?

Failing at math in school.  And then topping the school the following year.

Was a CTO at a failed dotcom startup during the internet boom and bust.  Don’t think that one resurrected.

Teaching in a university.

Studied at MIT and got a PhD there.  But who cares about the degree…the value was the inspiration, culture and the experience I gained there from interacting with some of the smartest people on the planet.

c. Whom Do I Know?

That would be by family, friends and colleagues.

And in today’s digital world, it also includes my social networks.

Who are those who can act as resource people? Potential partners or customers?

d. What Resources Do I Have Access To?

Some money in the bank.  A computer and software.  Wi-fi.   Credentials.


So take a few moments and do a self-assessment.

You will need it for the next step in the Effectuation Cycle.

See you in the next post!

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