I was recently featured in a video series by a national beverage brand, Hoist. It's part of something they're calling their "Lift Limits" series where they're talking with people who strive, everyday, to push past boundaries and obstacles to achieve things, great and small, everyday. It was a huge honor to be featured, but as I watched the video, I couldn't help but wonder if, maybe limited weren't such a bad thing?
Now, I'm sure you've heard about this concept of creativity being built within structure, right? It basically posits that creativity doesn't have to come from this wide open, white board -esque place where you can stare off into space and just come up with ideas with no concern or regard for things like budget, or cultural sensitivities, or the laws. Now, don't get me wrong - those brainstorming sessions are nice and needed, but they're not realistic and don't come around all that often. More often than not, you're faced with challenges and limits that can't help but shape your creativity. For caterers, there are dietary restrictions, for designers there are clients desiring color palettes that you might HATE. For planners, there might be cultural sensitivities, client family drama, or venue restrictions that you have to take into account. Wherever you are and whatever you do, there's likely going to be something that limits or restricts you. I get it, it's frustrating. But, it's working within those limits, not seeking to push past them that makes you truly exceptional.
I said, in the video, that we should seek, not to think outside the box, but rather to hack the cube. The box is something we willingly constructed for ourselves and then got in. I watch my kids and, from day to day, their desire to be something changes. This week alone, my oldest has wanted to be a pilot, cowboy, astronaut, knight, ninja, superhero, and "cooker." In his mind, he can be any and all of those things and there's no contradiction. That's what it USED to be like for us. We dreamed we could, and so we did. Somewhere along the way, though, our limited thinking set in. Perhaps someone told us we were "too." Too fat, too skinny, too young, too old, too dumb, too smart, too... you get the idea. Those toos created a box we jumped in and on occasion peer out from to get creative. But, instead, we should hack the cube. The Rubik's cube is a multi sided toy that can be shared and changed by how you align parts of it. While the goal is to get all sides to look the same, there are many ways to get there. So it is with our limits. We all have some goal we have to accomplish, some thing we're limited by. The true test of your creativity is in how you get there, and what you create because of, not in spite of, your limits.
Maybe lifting limits is less about eliminating them, and more about elevating them to see past where you thought you could go, too what you actually can accomplish.
Props to Jennifer Miller and D Magazine for recommending me and check out the video and article when you get a chance.