The Lonely Hammer

I am no handyman. Trust me, I have tried. Once, I attempted to install a new light fixture in our spare bathroom. I proudly put the thing together; after hours of figuring out the red and black wires go here and the ground wire goes there. I was pumped up and ready to boast about my handyman powers. I flicked the switch and the only thing that kept turning on and off was the living room cable box.

It was immediately reaffirmed; I am definitely no handyman or an electrician. The problem is, I have no patience. I can’t sit there for hours and not fix something. So when my brother-in-law came over to fix the stand up shower that we had stopped using over a month ago due to the hot handle breaking off, I was very excited. What I didn’t expect is him bringing not one, not two but three different tool boxes full of neat tools I have never seen before.

We are all born with various tools in our ‘life tool’ box.  An assortment of qualities, belief systems, ethics, morals, outlooks and many other qualities. We take them out at our discretion and use them as we see fit for whatever life throws at us. But there comes a time when we use one tool more than the other. Then we have a favorite tool—one that stands out. Some people empty the box and build upon the rest of their life with just one tool. A fall back, a clutch tool per se.

Every problem they encounter around them starts looking like a nail. So essentially in their tool box lies a single tool; the hammer.


We bang away at life with this hammer because it is now intuitive. It is the only way we know. If we have a problem we hammer at it. It doesn’t matter what type of problem it might be; we sometimes neglect to use the tools that might be better suited to solve the problem, or build a new foundation to carry us through the issue. Some just hammer away because it is a habit and habits as we all know are hard to break.

So, does this pertain to work life as well? Of course. When the only tool in our tool box is a hammer then it is only natural that when we encounter stress, a deadline, a budget cap, a financial crisis, tough managerial decisions, we bend down grab the hammer and whack away at the issue.

Is it the best way? Everyone will opinionate differently. If it works for you then by all means use it. But if we take the hammer and throw it away and start replacing our “work life bag” with various neat tools, then undoubtedly we will brush up on skills we never knew we had and to our benefit start using these newfound tools to solve problems either in life or at work.

So no more hammering allowed. Today will be the day we grab all of our tools and build a more powerful career with a fully loaded tool box.

Home depot here I come.