The Time I Learned A Lesson From An Ikea Bookshelf

Thirteen and a half hours. That’s how long the flight is – but it’s Singapore Airlines, so it has Wi-Fi.

So I go online, read some articles, clear down and respond to e-mails, and keep a tab on the football scores. She’s about to move in – her first stop online. Ikea.com.

“We need a bookshelf” she says. I peer over, and see the yellow and blue of the IKEA logo. “You’re right, my solution of leaving book’s lying all over and under the desk, dining table, coffee table and floor, isn’t a great one.”

“There are a lot of books, we may need more than one bookshelf actually,” She says. I pause, change can be a good thing, and this makes sense. “Ok,” I respond.

Reading is one of my core activities. As soon as I come across a book that interests me – I’ll buy it. Have I read them all? No. Of course not! But, that doesn’t matter.

On a side note, I own a Kindle, but prefer without a doubt physical books – I had a few reasons as to why this was – then came across this article on The Death of the E-Books, & the Resurrection of the Physical Book. It was interesting to read – well, for me it was.

Anyway, back to Ikea.

So, a few days later, a Billy Bookcase turns up at the apartment.

Chatting with a friend on the phone, he tells me about his architect pal who says.

“In years to come, the Billy Bookcase will be celebrated as an architectural masterpiece.”

I don’t know how to react to this information, so I say “Oh… yes… It does have some nice curves and edges, I totally get him.” “Ok… then,” he responds. We move on.

Time to build this bookshelf.

I read the instructions. I need to make sure I have all the required tools… It turns out, I don’t.

No hammer.

“How can you not own a hammer?” I say to myself.

There are 18 nails that require securing, I look around – I have hammer substitutes. The back of a screwdriver, a pair of pliers. Pliers? Why do I have pliers in my life, yet no hammer. Something has gone wrong here.

After some deliberation the back of the screwdriver seems the best option. I knock a nail in, it gets the job done. Yet, I know in my head there is a more effective solution. A hammer.

I do a mental map of my local area. Where can I buy a hammer now, I wonder…

I want to finish building this bookshelf and move on to some other tasks… I think there’s a hardware shop about a fifteen minute walk away. A walk there, and then back vs sticking it out with the screwdriver back solution.

I start to really ponder the decision process in my head. Which to do? Then boom! The answer comes.

Rumsfeld’s Rule.

Instantly, I get to it. Knocking in all 18 nails. I complete the bookcase, and move to the next task on my to-do list.

What’s this rule you’re wondering?

“You go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”

I needed (in life) a hammer, it would have been perfect for the scenario. But I didn’t have one – I had the back of a screwdriver.

The principle applies broadly. I don’t know about you… but with me, there have been things I’ve put off and still continue to put off – because I’m waiting for perfect skies, permission to go from “someone”, or waiting to not feel like an imposter or unqualified.

I had the IKEA instruction manual* – call that good advice and instruction, the skills – call that being able to knock in nails – but my tools weren’t perfect and actually they didn’t have to be.

The time going to the shop would have made the task even longer overall, drained energy, and inevitably taken focus from other tasks in the day.

I pushed on with what I had at my disposal and built the bookshelf. 

It’s a nice bookshelf – the Billy. Truly an “architectural masterpiece.” (lol). I even bought a second one.

I guess the thought I was left thinking to myself, was. Bro – you have the stuff you need to get things done. It’s not always perfect – but they are there. Just recognise them and get going.

By the way.

Just in case you were wondering. I bought a hammer off Amazon. I think I made a good choice, it had 4.8 out of 5 stars from 271 customer reviews and arrived the next day.

*If instructed to. please use a hammer when assembling your IKEA furniture!

Zephaniah

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