How to Make Progress When You Don’t Have the Right Tools

My high school principle was in love with this quote, which was either from Theodore Roosevelt or Arthur Ashe:

“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”

But things are different when you get older and turn pro: you need the right tools. You need to watch that tutorial video, read that book, ask that person, save for the right software, buy that whiteboard.

Actually, you don’t. Don’t be a diva who needs to have everything perfectly in place before writing a word. Be like MacGyver. Look around you, at everything you already have, and think about how you can make progress using the tools already at your disposal.


Instead of waiting for the perfect opportunity, think about how you can create the perfect opportunity—or at least get closer to it—in your current situation.

I used to wait to write until I had a few perfect, quiet hours. Then I started bringing a notebook with me everywhere and taking advantage of downtime to jot down a few notes. Capture ideas. Plot and progress. Every word adds up.

Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. When it comes to your life goals, be like MacGyver: your brain is the only tool you really need.


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Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

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Can You Learn to be Lucky: Why Some People Seem to Win More Often Than Others by Karla Starr

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