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The Coaching Corner with Michael Riegel: Use a Hammer, Not a Screwdriver

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Whether I am in the kitchen baking bread, in my shop building my latest project, or talking to clients, the concept of identifying and using the proper tool is always present. I was reminded of this recently in a blog post by Seth Godin. He delivers bite-size advice to your inbox everyday and all you need to do is register. In the blog, he talks about the benefits of using the right tool in the context of time, money, and safety.

Let’s consider how this might apply to your work responsibilities.

Time Can Be Your Enemy

In an ever-increasing need for immediate answers, finding the right tool to provide guidance can be critical. Most clients or bosses will not be satisfied with “I’ll get back to you when I have an answer” because their urgency has now become your urgency. You may be comfortable working with multiple spreadsheets and databases but that may not be efficient. Think about your ability to produce high quality and accurate estimates using a commercial computer program quickly compared to your spreadsheets.

It's an Investment

Often, we look at the price tag first and decide about whether to make the purchase. Rarely do we consider the life cycle of the tool and the savings we can expect by selecting the more expensive option. I have learned the hard way myself by selecting less expensive and lower quality saw blades only to replace them before expected. When we shift our thinking to investment – in our tools, people, resources – the absolute cost becomes less important than the lasting benefits.

Everyone Goes Home the Way They Came to Work

I heard this over and over from a VP when I worked for the local gas company. Yes, we were in the business of building the gas system, but we were also in the safety business. We have likely all been on a job site and witnessed a worker clearly using a tool in a manner that would not be recommended. Using the tool available instead of the tool designed for the task reduces safe operations and can lead to disastrous results. As any money manager will say: past performance does not guarantee future results. That goes for safety too!

This was a good reminder for me as I keep my eyes open for the tools that will help me work smarter, not harder to produce sourdough bread in the kitchen and cutting boards in my workshop. As always, you can reach me at

Michael Riegel


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