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The Beauty of Boundaries: How Constraints Enhance Creative Expression
The beauty of boundaries lies in how constraints can enhance creative expression by providing structure, focus, and inspiration, leading to new and innovative ways of thinking and creating.
Want to listen instead of read? There’s an audio version! 👇
In my last issue, I talked about How "I wonder..." questions can lead to discoveries of delight. I love “I wonder…” questions because they allow you to explore as far as your mind will let you go.
But one of the biggest challenges of unfettered, boundless exploration is it not having boundaries can lead to nowhere.
Have you ever experienced this overwhelm of optionality? Stuck without strings attached? Frozen without fetters?
Most of us think that we want as many options as possible. I don’t want walls. I don’t want a cage. Nobody puts me in a box.
But here’s the catch: the more options we have, the less walls we have, the less horizons we have, the harder it becomes to choose, which makes it harder for us to create.
When the possibilities seem endless, it becomes almost impossible to know where to start.
That’s where the concept of constrained creativity can enhance your ability to focus, foster collaboration and surprisingly: generate novel ideas.
The Constrained Creativity of a Kite
At this point, you may be asking “what is constrained creativity?”
As a kid, I loved to fly kites at the beach.
We didn’t fly the kind of kite most people are familiar with, we flew trick kites.
I remember watching our trick kites rip through the air at amazing speeds. They’d be flying towards the ground so fast and with just a few feet before crashing, whoever was flying the kite would pull one of the strings and whoosh it would shoot back up in the air.
A kite with one string can usually stay in the air and at best catch a breeze and flutter.
A string is a constraint on the freedom of a kite to just go wherever. A string allows physics to take a kite higher and stay steady.
You would think that with two strings a kite would be able to do less, but something really amazing happens when you add a second constraint to a kite: you gain the ability to have fine tuned control.
What’s even more wild: If you remove a string, a kite is pretty much useless. It’s unpredictable. It leads to a frustrating day at the beach chasing it around trying to get it back.
Adding enough of the right constraints can surprisingly create a wide range for creativity.
A Flight Plan for Your Constrained Creativity
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be helping you create a flight plan for your constrained creativity.
I’ll be exploring seven powerful ideas that can transform the way you approach your projects, your work, and your life.
To get an idea of what’s on deck, here are 7 examples of what to expect in the next two months
I’ll demonstrate how Startup Weekend is a real-world example for embracing limitations for enhanced focus.
I’ll walk you through how you can find a growth mindset through reinterpreting constraints as opportunities.
I’ll delve into how the Blue Ocean Strategy is inverting constraints to generate novel ideas.
I’ll showcase how LEGO Serious Play is a tool for using constraints to foster collaboration.
I’ll reveal a strategy for how to use experimentation for challenging assumptions and breaking norms.
I’ll share how jazz musicians mix their mastery with improvisation for balancing constraints and freedom for optimal creativity.
I’ll explore one of my favorite tech ideas, Kaizen or the philosophy of continuous improvement for iterating towards refinement and learning from constraints.
Some Strings Attached
So I hope that with a better understanding of what constrained creativity and an understanding that with some strings attached, you could soar and swoop with ease and delight, that you’ll join me for this eight-week journey.
Together, we will discover the many ways in which the right balance of constraints can inspire our imaginations, catalyze our creativity, and take our thinking on transcendent trips.
See ya next week!
A Curiously Constrained Creative,
P.S. If you’re curious about my new format, you can read more about how I’m planning my newsletter on my website. It’s a constraining system to help me be intentional about not meandering.
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