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Can You “Figure it Out”?

February 11th, 2023 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, if you don’t know what bus to take, how will you ever get where you need to go?

I had the privilege of attending the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit a few times earlier in my life. It is a leadership event created by Willow Creek Community Church in the suburbs of Chicago that has grown into an internationally recognized event.

In those days, Willow Creek Church founder Bill Hybels always gave the opening address at the Summit. I remember one address in particular where Bill talked about a lesson his father taught him early in life that has paid many dividends.

Bill was in high school at the time. A ski trip was organized that he wanted to join. His father agreed to pay the cost which included a bus trip to the ski resort. On the day he left for the trip, his father drove him to the bus station and parked in front of it. The conversation from there went something like this:

Bill’s Father: Okay, away you go

Bill: What bus do I take?

Bill’s Father: Figure it out.

Bill: What do I do when the bus arrives? How do I get to the resort?

Bill’s Father: Figure it out.

Bill: What do I do when it’s time to leave?

Bill’s Father: Figure it out.

Bill figured out what bus to take, how to get to the resort and how to find his way home. Looking back on the experience, he realized that it was his father’s way of teaching him to be self-sufficient and think for himself – a skill which has served him well over the years.

That story resonated with me then and still does today. In my generation, we were encouraged by our parents and taught in our days of higher education to develop this ability. It was a life skill we needed in our arsenal and one that I was naturally inclined to develop. That skill has defined my life in many ways over the years.

The teaching of that skill has fallen by the wayside over the years. Young people today mature more quickly and do things in their teens that I did not dare to tackle until well into my twenties. Despite that advanced maturity, many do not seem to have been equipped with the Figure It Out skill, although there are some who have the aptitude and develop it on their own.

It may have something to do with the predominance of technology in our lives now. Machines and computers have taken over many tasks. They free us from those responsibilities but at the same time stunt the development of our figure it out ability. Post-secondary education also bears some of the responsibility for defaulting on their responsibility to teach this skill.

There is a ripple effect involved. The absence of the Figure it out skill can make one more inclined to take all things at face value and not sniff out the deceits that all too often lay just below the surface. If you can’t figure it out, you are less able to think for yourself and less able to separate fact from fraud and duplicity.

And finally, if you are inhibited in thinking for yourself, you cannot access the power of metaphor which can be defined as the ability to unearth hidden connections between problems, objects or situations. Yes, you knew I was going to circle back here eventually!

We need to bring back the nurturing of the figure it out ability. If you cannot figure out what bus to take, you will not get where you need to go.

Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at .

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