Work With What You've Got


A keen sense of resourcefulness is a powerful attribute for any working mind. This sentiment holds true for any professional capacity whether it be of a conventionally “creative” nature or not.

Whether it’s tight budgets, break-neck turnarounds, or any sort of other pressure-inducing constraints that challenge us, limitations are sure to show up. So the question is, what are we going to do about it? The ability to draw from any given situation in order to successfully deliver the goods is the mark of a pro, a pro who takes responsibility and plays the ball just as it has landed. Not only that, resourcefulness—as both a philosophical stance and guiding principle—helps to make one strong creatively by stretching the imagination to make the best use of whatever is at hand. When personally faced with such circumstances, I turn to the acronym, WWWYG, which stands for Work With What You’ve Got.

The general principle behind WWWYG is largely attitudinal. It insists that you take on a particular mindset whereby you first abandon all feelings of lack (for anything) and instead adopt the mentality, that what you need to succeed—even if only incrementally—is somehow already present. In order for this principle to really work we need to get intimately acquainted with the true nature of the given problem. Additionally, we must take full stock of all that is readily-available, and bear an honest reality-check with the conditions and parameters of the current situation; get objective.

By getting objective with the constraints and inherent nature of our problems we help frame our own unique plans of execution. If it’s the clock that we’re up against, instead of considering the “lack” of time that we have available, we can, instead, let it inform our approach by prioritizing our manners of exploration, and execution. It may be that we only have enough time to explore a modest set of conceptual directions, but that doesn’t mean that they have to lack in firepower. Additionally, if we go into a problem accepting that certain resources will simply not be available to us—like zero budget for photography assets for a new brochure design (as was the case with South Padres Island’s Visitor and Convention Bureau’s visitor’s guide)—we can instead embrace the circumstances and consider what we CAN do. In the case of the visitor’s guide for South Padre Island, I pushed the envelope with layout and design (to include hand-crafted typographical elements) to bring a modest five year old collection of photography to life.

In all honesty I can’t claim to be the authority over resourcefulness, but I am getting better. Whenever I do manage to successfully employ this faculty I’m rewarded with my own personal delight knowing how enjoyable the process was in going with the flow and benefitting from the unexpected and still delivering something of great value. Resourcefulness in this sense has helped to teach me poise. By not freaking out over what a project may be missing I’m able identify key, inherent opportunities that I likely would have missed otherwise.

Like any skill, strength, or personality attribute, command does not happen overnight. WWWYG is mostly a discipline, that improves with repetition. If we truly look for opportunities in the face of challenging conditions we’ll begin to see, with greater appreciation, our own innate problem-solving capacities. To the quote which states, “…to each according to their own ability,” I would like to add, “…to work with what they’ve got.” I am of the mindset that once we get a good handle on resourcefulness that we’ll become more adept at successfully managing whatever challenges come our way; the challenges themselves become more interesting and enjoyable as we gain greater skill.

Robert Charles Miller