Choose the Right Tool

My Dad subscribed to the brute force method of fine carpentry. He believed everything could be fixed with a big screwdriver and a hammer. If a door frame wasn’t quite plumb, just loosen it with the screwdriver and give it a couple of whacks.  Tools

Business can be like that. If something isn’t quite right we can often force it into place with a few good whacks of hard work and effort.  But these quick fixes in business and carpentry often come back to haunt us because we were addressing only symptoms.

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.  Abraham Maslow

When challenged we tend to reach for the life or business tool that gives us immediate but temporary relief – rather than looking at core causes and selecting a tool that eliminates the problem permanently.  Your life and your business works to the degree that you apply the right tool to make it work.

But what can you do when you know you don’t have the right tool for the job? You could apprentice with someone with a bigger toolbox.

If your life or business feels like you’ve whacked it into place once too often, perhaps it’s time to hire a professional coach with more of the right tools in his box?  Coaches are paid for resourcefulness.

By focusing on what, you the client,  most want to create, it’s our job to suggest practical tools, methods, approaches, concepts and exercises that will accelerate your focused progress.  If what you need isn’t already in my toolbox, you and I will create a customized solution to resolve your issue.

Remember the story of the craftsman who saved the day by getting an essential piece of machinery running again?  He inspected the machine, took out his hammer, tapped once and fixed it.  Later his customer was surprised to get a $500 bill for a five minute fix.  The craftsman explained his bill. “That’s $5 for tapping and $495 for knowing where to tap.”

Professional business coaches not only know what tool to use but they know when to tap, where to tap and to what degree.

Here’s a tool I often use to clear the air and see where we are.  Continuing with our hammer theme, a few words from a master.

Hammer time – Break it down.  MC Hammer

Breaking things down so you can see where you are is essential to business prosperity.  From my observation, we make business far too complicated.  Lately I’ve been on a quest to ruthlessly simplify my own business.

Ruthless simplification is powerfully transformative.

The effect of uncovering and releasing foggy purpose activities is astonishing.

Business coaches are paid to guide business growth.  You don’t need to hire a coach to maintain – you hire us for movement.

Break It Down Business Tool

I’ve found that the best way to break something down is to decide where you are in this laser-like process.  Regardless of what you want from your small business, your growth opportunity will be at one of these stages.  Select the stage where you think you are and then apply your answer to the accompanying question.

Clarity – What do I need to see more clearly?

Decision – What unmade decision demands my attention?

Creation – What do I most what to create now?

Action – What can I do now?

Then work with your business coach to apply tools of clarity, decision, creation or action.   Apply the right tool, at the right time, with the right touch and you’ll produce your desired outcome.

Business like life is neither difficult nor easy.  Both are how you see them and how you make them.

Have the courage to apply ruthless simplification to your own life or business?  Join me on May 20, for this powerful, free, group coaching experience:  Making Room for What You Want.


  1. This is one of my favorite sayings. So many people, especially in IT, run around with one hammer. Put the hammer down and seek to understand the real problem at hand. Then find the right tool and solve the problem deftly.

    There is an IT-specific version of this aphorism: You can write FORTRAN in any programming language. If you apply the same ineffective techniques using new technology, you have only created new problems.

    Chuck Muscianos last blog post..Follow Me! Or Not.

  2. Hi Tom. I like the analogy you’ve used with the hammer and nails. I think most of us can relate to that one. Choosing the right tool is paramount to progress. I love this too…”You don’t need to hire a coach to maintain – you hire us for movement.” Brilliant!

    Davinas last blog post..Letter from a Proofreader with Edits

  3. Right now I am here:
    Creation – What do I most want to create now?
    Except I have two major things on the forefront. But one, I want and need to create while the other I need to create but don’t really want to. Needless to say I am struggling with the motivation of the second.

  4. Tom,

    I’m a big fan of using tools for thinking, and have used the carpentry analogy myself. I like the story of the $500 hammer job. Reminds me of Picasso drawing a woman’s portrait on a napkin for thousands of dollars. When the woman objected that he only took 15 minutes to draw it, he replied that it took him 40 years, not 15 minutes, to do that.

    Daphne @ Joyful Dayss last blog post..Running from Commitment Phobia

  5. That is so true. Sometimes what a business needs most is an outside perspective of where they can improve.

    Carla Alvarezs last blog post..Three Things a Web Designer Hates to Hear

  6. I love MC Hammer…thank you for that flashback.

    I’m transitioning from creation to action. Every little step counts, and the steps are taking me higher. It’s a great place to be. And I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, working with a coach was a fantastic experience for me, and I’ve been thinking it may be time again. All the greats have them!

    Stacey Shipmans last blog post..Stress Relief Toolbox: Sometimes, Something Has To Give

  7. I’m a fan of choosing the right tool for the job.

    That’s why I also like to have a lot of tools in my tool belt, otherwise, everything becomes a nail.

    I like how you put it, “coaches are paid for resourcefulness.”

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..Chunk Up Your Phrases for More Effective Writing

  8. I love this post for a few reasons. The analogy of paying $495 for knowing where to tap is funny yet true. Your use of an MC Hammer quote gets massive points from me, plus the content of the post is dead on.

    Over time, I keep keying in more and more on what I and my business are best at. The more we focus and simplify the more effective we become and the more our clients like us and recommend us. When I began my business, I had a goal of being a huge, all encompassing web media company. Over time, I’ve realized that though one day we may develop into such a large force, right now and when starting out it’s best to focus on your strengths and fine-tune those down so that they can be shared and promoted simply.

    Adam Pieniazeks last blog post..NHL Playoffs Round 2

  9. Davina – Glad you like simple explanations as well. Actually I should have said this. No one needs a coach. People need therapy. The best clients WANT coaching because they WANT progress!

    Chuck – Welcome. It is amazing how we see what we expect to see. That’s why being open to new possibilities is such an advantage in the marketplace.

    Laurie – If you’re struggling with the motivation back up one stage in the cycle and ask some further decision questions. For example, what will creating this right now give us? Can I get the same thing in a more direct less complicated way? What else might I create to solve this problem instead? Come back and let us know what you come up with.

    Daphne – Thanks that’s a great Picasso story that makes our point. Wish I had a couple of those napkins now. 🙂

    Stacey – It is so cool to be in focused creative action. Enjoy every bit of that ride. I know what you mean about coaching. I just got off the phone with my coach and I’m ablaze with inspired actions to take soon.

    Carla – An objective third party viewpoint is priceless. Coaching works partly because our only agenda is the success of our clients.

    J.D. – Absolutely and the best tools stay sharp through repeated use.

    Adam – MC Hammer wasn’t much of a business man but he sure had it going on for a good while there. I almost put up his video on this post but I thought it would be too much. 🙂
    Ruthless simplification is powerful!

  10. Suzanne @ vAssistant Services says:

    Tom – I love the onion that is you! Another layer unexpectedly revealed: Hammer time – break it down! LOVE IT! LOL!!

    In my business, the best question I can ask at the moment is, “What is the least I need done before I can go forward with this?” I tend to get too grandiose in my vision of what I want to create, and then, before I know it, I’ve stymied myself because there is soooo much to do before it’s “ready”.

    Nonsense, I’ve come to find out.

    It’s perfectly ok to create version 1.0 and get going with it, and on the journey create version 2.0, 3.0….

    Suzanne @ vAssistant Servicess last blog post..Can You Say the X, Y and Z of Your Business in One Sentence?

  11. I think the question I need to ask is: “Can I get the same thing in a more direct less complicated way?”

    I have many resources for what I am doing and am lost in them. I believe I need to choose one as the focal point and then branch the others off of it. I also need to go back and re-read my “believe and know” chart I made a couple of weeks ago. Self doubt is creeping in. I need to trash those don’t I?

    This has to do with the Professional Development I am creating. One thing is I don’t acknowledge that I really do have knowledge and experience that others would benefit from. I start doubting the value of what I know. BUT when I go through it without the emotional aspect of it, I know that I have a ton of knowledge and experience to share.

    I believe I would benefit from simplifying my approach to outlining what I will be doing. Make sense?

  12. Hi Tom – I love the “That’s $5 for tapping and $495 for knowing where to tap.” I showed it to Frank and he laughed and laughed and said “that’s priceless, that’s ******* priceless” and laughed some more (he is a fitter by trade, and used to fix machinery)

    I’m sure it would be a great step in the right direction for people running businesses to use your services to help grow their business!

    Robins last blog post..Life And Teaching Of The Masters Of The Far East

  13. another very interesting post and good suggestions. I am having problems with local coaches in my area and evangelists…they feel the same – always promising to help you fix your business or yourself and they truly do not have the proof of their words.

    I am just tired of answers from folks who don’t really have them – such as so many religious conservatives….so free to tell me about hate and how I might have a degree but I couldn’t possibly believe as well as they do…

    when they can’t fix it – they give the ultimate hammer hit and blame the problem on you and your lack….

    too many coaches in my world right now, too many gurus

    not sure I can hear anything more

    Patricias last blog post..Mending Fences

  14. fix not fit

  15. Hi Tom,

    What a great spokesperson you are for life and business coaches.

    You’ve explained what you do in such a simple way and showed others how you can get results.

    I like the $495 charge for knowing where to hit. 🙂

    Barbara Swaffords last blog post..Are Introverts Better Bloggers

  16. It really isn’t a tool until it helps accomplish the task and solve what the real problem is. Thanks for the tip, Tom! 🙂

    Jocelyn at I TAKE OFF THE MASKs last blog post..Reclaim Your Dreams

  17. Laurie – Yes that makes sense. But also remember to just do. We don’t have to crush our self-doubt. It often dies in on its own while we are doing what we want to do.

    Suzanne – Yes. Look at software sellers. The initial crap they release almost always needs improvement but that doesn’t stop them form selling it. It’s a pretty freeing business model to just create and count on needing to adapt later. Mistakes are good. Over preparation is bad.

    Robin – Delighted to provide a story for Frank to laugh his ass off!

    Patricia – You’ve made an interesting comment. Perhaps it’s time for you to quit listening to the gurus. Perhaps it’s your time to be the guru!

    Barbara – Thanks, I am such a fierce advocate for coaching because it transforms lives. There really is no reason to wait.

    Jocelyn – Good description. Tools help us to create.

  18. Clem Gigliotti - Power On The Web says:

    Hey Tom…

    From experience, I can attest to the versatility and effectiveness of your toolbox. Not only that, but the “equipment operator” is knowledgable and experienced as well! Keep up the good work. It’s been a blessing to know you!


    Clem Gigliotti – Power On The Webs last blog post..Pittsburgh Technology Examiner

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