A few years ago, I was at one of those team building off-sites that you hear about all too often. As a team leader, I was given some Monopoly money and made to sit in an auction. There were random articles in the auction and all I won at the end was a brick and a roll of toilet paper.
It was then that we were told the purpose of the auction. From the stuff that we bid for, we were supposed to build an 'egg drop catcher' that would prevent three eggs from breaking after being dropped from a height of 20ft on to the floor below. Given the fact that other teams had bid for far more softer things like straws, sponges and rubber bands - our team was already looking at the prospect of three splattered eggs.
But then again, we weren't in it to lose. After a few minutes of furious discussion we figured out what we had to do. We managed to find a hammer and pound the brick to a pile of dust. We unravelled the roll of toilet paper and cut open the inner cardboard cylinder to fashion a spring and placed it in the center of the mound and piled it on top.
It looked downright ugly, and everyone in the competition was smirking when we placed it in the designated area. We were nervous as hell, but when the eggs were dropped, to our surprise and everyone else's - not one of them broke.
Then it was the turn of the other teams. They'd all come up with impressive looking devices, crafted with ingenuity and a lot of thought. But none of them could prevent three eggs from breaking and so we won.
I cannot describe the feeling of joy that overtook us. It was as if we'd won the goddamned World Cup. I know you'd be wondering what the big deal was. But trust me it was.
It reiterated a couple of things for me that day -
A. There's nothing like 'No Can Do'
B. Sometimes it's not the fancy, scientific solution that works - simple sometimes is better
C. Teamwork works
And now, whenever I am faced with an insurmountable problem. I go back to that balmy day in Matheran and things become clearer for me.