When you have a hammer…

When you have a hammer…

By Rajesh Setty on Fri 27 Feb 2009, 4:04 PM – 11 Comments

Photo credit: Carlos Porto on Flickr

… everything looks like a nail.

When you are good at something, you tend to look at all the problems via that angle. This is important for you to know as this is how you will be looking at problems. This is also important for you to know when you listen to experts as this is how they are looking at the problems.

This is all the more important when it comes to way we use social media.

Take LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and even blogs – there are a variety of ways of using these tools to contribute, increase your capacity and/or make a difference.

Every tool will have experts who know how to make the most out of these tools. Some of these experts go so deep on these tools that they will look at every problem as something that can be solved via THAT tool. These experts are also popular in THEIR community which seems to validate that whatever they are doing is WORKING.

So, what should you do?

Here is one suggestion:

Take the best of what the experts are suggesting that you do but PLEASE apply the advice to your context. Your specific case may require some change to the strategy or may warrant a TOTALLY different strategy.

They may have a hammer but you may not be a nail :)


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11 Comments so far, Add Yours

ochuko  on February 27th, 2009

True talk. This is hot wisdom… I heard you man. Thanks

Tanmay Vora  on February 27th, 2009

Great, as usual.

Can I take liberty to re-phrase it slightly?

“When the ONLY thing you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

If you have other tools apart from a hammer, perspectives may change.

If I am only good at one particular thing, my perspective will be limited. But if I have some expertise in other areas of work, I may look at things differently.

You are spot on when it comes to all expert advice available on how to use social media.

Have a great weekend!

Elder-Dude  on February 27th, 2009

Your point is a good one. It seems you’re saying be mindful of what you actually need, what will actually work. While this is great advise, the suitability of a solution isn’t always obvious. Determining if I’m a nail that needs a hammer or not; often requires an intuitive understanding of my situation or myself. Would you share your thoughts on how one can do this?

Have a fun and rewarding day, Elder-Dude.

Rajesh Setty  on February 27th, 2009

Ochuko, Tanmay, Elder-Dude: thank you

Elder-Dude: Your point is correct. If you are nail and you don’t know that, even if a hammer is around you, you won’t notice it.

Two books come to mind that talk about identifying your strengths and capitalizing on them:

1. Soar with your strengths

2. Flow

Reading both of them (preferably in that order) will provide a good insight into this topic.



Raj Char  on February 27th, 2009

Is this the other way:

You may have a hammer but you may not have the ability to identify the right nail?

Rajesh Setty  on February 27th, 2009

Raj, thank you.

Yes, that’s a problem too :)



Elder-Dude  on February 28th, 2009


Seems to me knowing one’s strengths is one side of the equation. It’s about having a hammer, or some other tool, suitable for solving a problem. In which case, as Raj pointed, the challenge is finding the right nail.

The other side of the equation is about knowing one’s weaknesses, or in this case needs. The riddle here is; in what way is one a nail or some other need, for which one is seeking a suitable solution? I’m thinking this is what your post was originally about; be mindful of what solution is actually suitable to have the outcome we want.

Seems to me we need an adequate understanding of our strengths to know what kind of tool we are and understanding of our needs to know what kind of tool will get us what we want. In either case we need our inner wisdom – intuition – to recognize what the suitability is; to answer the question, are we a hammer looking for a nail or a nail looking for a hammer or some totally other solution or need?

How do we do this is what I was asking about.


Rajesh Setty  on February 28th, 2009


Thanks again. You bring up a question for which there is no easy answer but here is an attempt at an approach to look at it:

One question that has to be answered as a pre-requisite to this discussion is “Where are you going?” If one does not know that, rest of the discussion will be confusing.

The moment one knows (or thinks he knows) where he is going, the next question will be “why is he not there already?” Answering that question will lead to the gaps (eg: gaps in knowledge, money, connections, power etc.) that need to be filled personally or via the help. This is probably the place to start figuring out the kind of “help” you need.



Shankar  on March 2nd, 2009

Very good post, Raj! Kudos!

My addition is that – When you have a Hammer AND you are a passionate “Hammerer” (I don’t think thats a word :) ) THEN AND ONLY THEN everything looks like a nail.

I remember my college days when I was an avid quizzer…and was/am a voracious reader. Every snippet, trivia, concept or theorem I read would automatically get slotted into a Quiz question!

For all that I know…you might have been just admiring some photos in Flickr and then probably you stumbled upon this photo ..leading you to blog about this topic !!

Ok, thats my shot in the dark :)

Rajesh Setty  on March 2nd, 2009

Thanks for sharing your perspective Shankar.

Have a great week ahead.



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