There are many ways to kill a cat

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on

Nine years ago, our Trigonometry Instructor used to tell us that there are many ways to kill a cat.

No. He was not talking about killing a cat in many ways. He meant there are many methods we can employ and still arrive at the same end when solving problems.

It was excellent advice, but if you were with me in class, what would you do? Are you brave enough to explore outside the usual method of solving a problem? Or are you a typical product of school who only knows how to do what you’ve been told?

To solve this problem, just follow steps one, two, and three, and you will get the right answer.

Most of us want to be on the safe side. Most of us want to take the path most people travel by.

This is what that person did, and it worked! It must be the only way.

We are afraid to become odd ones. Because when we follow the crowd, there’s always someone to blame when it fails. And usually, the person who stood up first gets the blame. But when we choose to stand on our feet and do what we can do, we only have ourselves to blame when we fail.

Thinking about what our Trigonometry Instructor told us nine years ago, I realized it was a call to go beyond what the textbook says. Because problem-solving is not about following what’s on the manual. Often, new problems arise, and no one has written a manual about them before.

Problem-solving is an art.

And that’s precisely what my friend Leonardo did. He became an artist. No, he is not a painter. He doesn’t do art like you think he is. For five years in engineering, we solved problems together. I am the school’s typical product, one who solves problems using steps one, two, and three.

But on the other hand, he does art in solving the same problems. He only looks at my work to verify if he did it right. And if he did not, he will figure it out. He always figures it out. Sometimes, it takes longer for him to solve them, but he makes the process simpler (for him) and more personal.

Because that’s what art is. Choose to be brave and make things you can call your own. Choose to stand up amid your fear of failure and do things only you can do.

But I am not just talking about solving problems here. I am talking about your career path.

We’ve been brainwashed that there’s only a single path to success. Just follow steps one, two, and three, and you will become successful in life. To our surprise, success can be achieved in so many ways. It depends on what success means for you. I don’t mean doing bad things just to get ahead in life. I meant that there are so many ways you can take if only you are brave enough to make a path of your own.

Just because I am an engineer now doesn’t mean I cannot do my art anymore. I was an artist first before I became an engineer.

There are many ways to kill a cat.

Maybe it’s time for you to step out. Start that business or even shift careers. Reskill.

Do not wait to be told what to do anymore.

Do your art.

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