How Constrained Are You? Not Nearly Enough| In-Between the Pages

Constraints are good. Do you think explorers let a little waterfall get in their way? (Image: Shawn Ward)

There has to be some limits to what we can and cannot accomplish. It is just the way it is. But, you can use it to your advantage. In fact, some of your best work you will ever do, will be when you have limits. 

Most things have set limits and the first thing you can do is embrace it. The sun must rise in the east and set in the west. If it didn’t, the world would be plunged into darkness. The moon will eventually reach a full moon state, if it didn’t the tides would be all messed up and so would our balance as we know it in this world.

Strict limits can actually be just the fuel or kick you need in your creative process. If you’ve ever been up against the wall on a deadline or really tightly constrained with resources to use, you’ve probably not realized your own resourcefulness during those times. I am sure if you reflect back you were much more resourceful than you thought you could be.

Architect Frank Loyd Wright, a favorite of mine and incredible example of working with limits, said this:

Limits are an artist’s best friend.

HUH? Seems like a contradiction. 

Wright believed that limits force us to think beyond our conventional solutions and find answers we might not have otherwise discovered. You can take a look at some of his best works like Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania (nature’s limitations) or the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan (cultural limitations and space limitations) to see how he took his limitations to create greatness.

Let’s take the Chicago, IL. skyline as another general example. That skyline was not developed and engineered by people with cheap, unlimited land. Rather, it was created by innovators who wrestled with the problem of creating incredible office/residential spaces on small pieces of expensive real estate.

Similarly, artists and writers maybe more inspired by the challenge of painting/writing by having to work within the confines of standard patterns or writing rhythms. 

Things to consider in your rut with limitations you’ve found yourself trapped by that might help:

  • How can you turn the constraints of your situations to your advantages? Dig deep on this one. It’s there, just within reach. Don’t give up so quickly.
  • What constraints can you add to your problem? Seems like a really weird thing to do, making it harder. But, it can have just the opposite effect in making something incredible and making you innovate more. Adding more constraints can also weatherproof your ideas and make them last the test of time.

If what you are involved in seems a little to easy going, maybe some limitations placed on them could be a great thing. I feel incredibly successful when going into something really restraining and limited. When I can find my way through it I am generally blown away by the result. It can change you when you regularly practice this. 

It’s Wednesday. Half way through your week. Go make an impact. Thanks for finding the time to read the post. Hope it helps.


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