Creativity Comes From Constraint

GoatI’m intrigued by the idea of creativity. Creative and innovation are the best and most widely available resources we have at our disposal. It’s free. It’s not limited in accessibility. It’s open 24 hours a day. I am constantly challenging myself and my students to look for creative solutions to problems.

And yet, one of the paradoxes of creativity and innovation is – it’s often best found in a setting of constraints.

One of my favorite shows on Netflix is Food Network’s “Chopped,” where contestants are forced to create an appetizer, entree, and dessert with an unusual “mystery” ingredient in their baskets. These mystery items might range from a bag of skittles to beef tongue. There was one episode where the mystery item was goat brains. I can’t even.

And yet, within 20 minutes, each of the contestants is able to come up with some incredibly diverse and creative dishes for the judges.

Why? Because they know they have to work within their constraints.

For each round there are 3 built-in constraints:

  1. Limited time.
  2. Have to use all the ingredients in the basket.
  3. Have to create an appetizer (or entree or dessert) depending on the round.

It’s incredible how creative one can get if you only have 20 minutes.

Here’s an awesome article by Belle Beth Cooper entitled, “The Psychology of Limitations: How and Why Constraints Can Make You More Creative.

Belle introduces a book project entitled, “Six word Memoirs” – the tag line is: One Life. Six Words. What’s Yours?

Clever idea. My favorite example: “Fired therapist, one mother is enough.”

The constraint of limiting your life’s story into 6 words forces you to think hard about what you want to say. And then even harder about how you want to say it.

It’s the same constraint with Twitter. 140 characters. That’s it. Make good use of your hashtag. #constraints

What are your constraints?

Is it time? Is it money? Is it talent?

Find a way to work within, around, and through your constraints to get the job done.

What are the resources you DO have available to you?

Who are the people who want to work with you?

Where do you want to be by the end of the year?

What does success look like? Work your way backwards to single steps. Do those. Click To Tweet

“Creativity comes from constraint.” – Biz Stone (Twitter co-founder)

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