If you were a live, viewing American in the late-80s, you tuned in weekly to watch Richard Dean Anderson (in the title role) save himself – and often Western civilization – from deranged villains and foreign powers. What was so unique and magnetic about the character was how he beat impossible odds every seven days: he was an ordinary guy (no super powers) who figured shit out. Example:
A massive explosive charge is set to blow apart a dam and drown thousands of downstream villagers. Racing the clock, MacGyver finds himself with nothing but a butane cigarette lighter, a transistor radio, a nylon poncho and an aging truck battery. Within the allotted 42 minutes, a counter charge would be delivered by improvised parachute and detonated just in time to disable the bomb. Village saved. Easy-Peasy.
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During a half-decade that included Iran-Contra, Black Tuesday and tense relations with a failing Soviet Union, this was soul-food. Ironically, the MacGyver of 1988 is the perfect man of the year for 2018.
At a time when many in our industry are blaming an array of villains – the Duopoly, automation, consolidation, changing Facebook policies, etc. – for the impossible bind we find ourselves in, we may just all need to start channeling our inner-MacGyvers. Figure shit out…come up with a solution…expand the possible. We need to ask ourselves, WWMD? What would MacGyver Do?
He’d work with the tools on hand. MacGyver never had all the perfect tools and resources on hand. He focused on how to use what was immediately available. Many of us do just the opposite.
He’d work fast. MacGyver was always conscious of a ticking clock. It gave him a mental clarity that allowed him to dial right into the heart of the problem. He spent none of his precious time lamenting the situation.
He’d come up with unusual combinations. MacGyver never picked up just one tool and asked, “Will this work?” Nope, he was all about how the battery acid and the butane would blend to form a new compound, and how the nylon poncho could be used to parachute the charge to its destination. Far too many of us think about selling and applying one product at a time.
He’d attack big problems, head on. MacGyver wasn’t about just finding a way out of the locked room, knocking out a guard and alerting the army. Nope…nothing incremental in this guy. From the jump he’d be about finding the biggest, hairiest problem to solve…with the biggest stakes. Too many of us take tiny swings at marginal issues, expecting that showing a quarter-point of difference will somehow buy us another 15 minutes of consideration from our customer. It’s a sucker’s game…and MacGyver wouldn’t play it!
Sure, MacGyver was just a TV show. But still, each of us has a little MacGyver inside. Maybe this is just the environment where we let him loose.