Greg Alston was approaching this year’s blue highway journey with a purpose. He was always fascinated with Native American culture and decided to spend a month on a reservation. He asked the sales staff to find a reservation that had used some of the company’s products.
There were several reservations to choose from, but one stood out. They had purchased some of the products years ago but none recently. Greg was curious as to why that was.
After some effort, he was able to gain acceptance for a month-long stay. He never mentioned the company he worked for or his curiosity about why they hadn’t bought any products recently. After all, his product curiosity was secondary to his interest in the cultural aspects of the trip.
The trip lived up to Greg’s expectations. While living on the reservation was tough, Greg admired the sense of community that was evident. So were such virtues as generosity, sincerity, authenticity, and tolerance. He thought how reservation living could be a model for America.
He had completely forgotten about his technology interests until one day he was able to see one of their products in action. Actually it wasn’t their product, but a modification. In fact, the modification had features that looked to be better than their upgrades. As he took interest in the product, his host said to him: “I don’t know what we would do if we didn’t have Chesnu. He’s our go-to guy for anything technical.”
Greg was fascinated: “This is incredible engineering. Where did Chesnu go to college?”
“That’s funny. He barely graduated from high school. He was a slow reader and held back. It wasn’t until we had a young Teach for America student work with him that we discovered he had dyslexia. He was never good in math, but he was an incredible problem solver.”
“I don’t understand,” Greg responded.
“Chesnu is a visual person. He can just look at equipment and figure out what’s wrong. That equipment you’re looking at just didn’t do what it was supposed to do, so Chesnu modified it.”
Greg thought to himself that Chesnu had come up with a better modification that a team of his engineers had achieved and probably in a lot less time. Greg was curious to know more about Chesnu.
“Chesnu fixes all of our equipment and generally comes up with a fix to the flaws that caused it to fail. I’m proud to say that Chesnu now has begun to work with other young people who struggle in school but are very resourceful. We don’t have much so we have to make do with what we have. For us, being resourceful is just as important as being book smart.”
As Greg drove home he thought about how Chesnu had gone from being a potential drop-out to being a critical resource for his community. He thought about resourcefulness as a way of viewing the talent of those who don’t fit the conventional education mold. Greg was aware of the concept of multiple intelligences, but this was the first time he made the connection between a person’s intelligence diversity and their resourcefulness. The lingering thought he had was, how do we give people like Chesnu a chance to contribute?
* * *
“It’s not about the resources you have available. It’s about the resourcefulness you have within you.”
– Tony Robbins