MacGyver Yourself Into Success

In the great wisdom of TV entertainment, the popular 90s series MacGyver is back, re-hauled and re-cast, with fresh young faces, but the point is the same: trouble occurs, MacGyver is (usually reluctantly) called to the rescue, and “MacGyvering” ensues.

Which, for me, is the appeal of the show: what on earth is MacGyver going to duct-tape, chewing-gum, paper-clip together this time to rout the bad guys and save the day? He has a genuine hero’s approach to problems-never sulking, walking away or giving up in the face of a problem, always looking for a different approach. In a word, “Can’t be done” is always translated into “Gotta be a way.”

What a winning approach to life! How many times have you told yourself “Can’t be done” and with those fatal words, dashed your dreams, smashed your hopes, given up on a cherished goal? I certainly have, more often than I’d like to admit, and always to my later regret.

Optimists don’t do that. Optimists, defined by their hopeful and confident attitude toward the future, run quite literally where others fear to tread. Which is why optimists are often labeled “fools” or “Pollyanna.” Forgetting that Pollyanna thrived.

It’s truly worth adopting an optimist’s hopeful attitude toward the future. Study after study proves that optimists do very well: they live longer, are healthier, more successful, and happier than pessimists. My favorite? They outperform their own talents. Personally, I take that as very good news.

The mistake is thinking that optimists simply rush headlong into any and all ventures. Optimists, instead, look at situations like everyone else, with an eye to what might go wrong, but what’s critical, is they also look at what might go right, and chose to lean in that direction.

Take Bill Gates, for example. How easy it would have been, for him, sitting in his garage, to think “Who’s gonna want this stuff? Never gonna happen!” and abandon his dream to pursue something tried and true. Like door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. Which, by the way, is now a defunct profession. But he didn’t. He chose the optimistic course: maybe, just maybe, someone somewhere would find value in what he had to offer. Or take Elon Musk, or Hillary Clinton. I don’t care what your politics are, think of how optimistic you must be to either shoot for the moon, physically, or shoot for the moon, in terms of aiming to be the first woman president.

My dream? Double-pirouettes by age 70. OK, not everybody’s dream I grant you, but my small dream, which takes a significant optimistic viewpoint to even consider. What’s yours? To write that novel? Create that work of art that thrums in your brain night and day? Travel to that far distant land you’ve dreamed of? Star in that movie, rock-band, fashion commercial? MacGyver yourself!

The more you refuse to accept that you can’t, the more likely you are to succeed. Be bold, be brave, and go for that dream that lives in your heart. I guarantee, it will be worth it.

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a psychologist, relationship expert, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of over a dozen best-selling books. Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. She is the author of “Happy Healthy… Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong and How To Get It Right” (MindLab Publishing) You Matter. You Count. You Are Important. Visit, @drnoellenelson.

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