Improvise and Stretch – One Early Lesson in Leadership

improvised repair for a broken trekking boot

Adversity and uncertainty bring us the opportunity to learn important life lessons. This is the meaning I make of the adversities I personally experience.

As a young girl, when I experienced frustration about a lack of available resources in our household, I would complain. But my Dad’s response was consistently: “Just go look around you, girl, and see what you can find. Learn to improvise, girl, improvise!” 

A few years prior, in the 1950’s, there was a time our family car was broken down and there was no money for repair. Unfortunately this was around the same time my dad had been laid off from his job during slow times at his job with the railroad. He was only 24 years old then, and he already had four children under the age of four.

But as the story goes, “with four hungry mouths to feed”, he looked around for what he could find to make do. And with a popsicle stick and a rubber band he improvised.  Making the a necessary repair to our car’s “generator,” relocated us 250 miles back home to live near grandparents and relatives.

And so it is with generatively. This is the creative ability to connect the dots in ways that provide a new solution for a pressing problem. Such creative talent is an important 21st Century leadership skill, and it’s a welcomed support in times of adversity. During tumultous times, such skill brings hope to adversity and uncertainty. 

An elaboration of a similar leadership concept is described in the book, Stretch, (Sonenshine, 2017).

Under duress, our brain gives us an increased ability to utilize its creative juices to be resourceful. A good leader has enough hope to maintain a quiet confidence in the ability to draw on their creativity.   When problems arise and resources are scarce, it’s important to trust your inner wisdom in this regard.

You can shift the understanding and the vibration of any circumstance from one of uncertainty and scarcity to one of hope and plenty. The truth is that you already know enough, have enough, and are enough to see things through.

Do you have the hope and confidence to improvise in uncertain times or when inadequate resources are available?  Can you trust your inner wisdom to let you know just what to do?  Has there been a time your own creativity has led you to a generative solution?


Dr Cynthia Hardwick is a Coaching and Consulting Psychologist.  She enjoys working with holistically informed professionals, executives, and entrepreneurs in ways that help them let go of anxiety and burnout in order to create life and work that brings them the peace and freedom they deserve. 

Learn more about Cindy here.

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