The Value of the Right Tool

The Value of the Right Tool

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”  This idea is attributed to Abraham Maslow (and sometimes to Mark Twain).  It is variously known as “Maslow’s Hammer” or the Law of the Instrument. 


A variant version is “If all you have is a hammer, every challenge looks like a nail.”  I am learning again of the importance of having the right tool for the job at hand.

This past month I have been remodeling the basement of our home.  Don’t know what caused this lapse in my good judgement as I have only modest carpentry skills.  A true carpenter friend named me years ago, “just a TINK.”  I can tinker.  Still I have undertaken a rather major project of adding a bedroom and children’s play space downstairs. 


Fortunately my friend, Jim Noseworthy, who has more experience “tinkering,” has been teaching and assisting me.  In the process I have leaned again the value of having the best tool for each task.  Things go much better if I have multiple tools and know which to use for each task.   Thanks Jim — and I have learned that hammers have little use in hanging sheet rock!  Squares and levels and cutting knives are a better choice!

In the process of learning, I have discovered again that I, too, am a tool.  There are things I have been designed to do, things I have learned, calling in my life where I am better able to make a difference.  While I am a “Tink” as a carpenter, there are other places where I add more value.

It is estimated that on any given evening more than one million folks are homeless in the U.S.  Another 12 to 15 million live in dramatically substandard and/or dangerous housing.  There are many tools out there one might use.  Some good ones.  Over the years I have a favorite — it is Habitat for Humanity.

thAs some of you know, it has been my goal in my 70th year to build a house through the good efforts of LaPorte County Habitat folks.  Last winter the local Habitat board was alerted to the fact that a matching gift of up to $35,000 was available.  Thus far, more than thirty (30) friends have given over $14,000 to this effort.  And, along with contributions from the donor so far (who has done more than matching these gifts) we have raised more than $32,000!  What a joy!!

There are many good tools to address homelessness and inadequate housing… Finding the right one is critical. Thanks to all who are joining in this summers build in LaPorte.  The foundation is poured and “Tinks” will be needed this summer.  Any volunteers?  Come and join — make a gift — follow the progress online at Website for LaPorte, Indiana Habitat for Humanity.