We never have everything we need.
We’re always missing some key piece of information. Or some key relationship. Or some key tool that would allow us to quickly and easily do our best work.
This is a blessing!
Because when we are working in less than ideal situations, we are forced to be truly creative.
Creativity doesn’t come from having the time, tools and talent you need to do great work. Creativity is doing great work with the time, tools and talent you’re able to scrounge together at any given moment.
Let’s look at a three examples to expand on this idea.
Vignette #1: The Music Producer
Daniel Lanois is a renowned, in-demand music producer and musician.
Some might argue that he is the best because his success brings him the very best resources with which to work.
However, in interviews Lanois has said that one of his unique abilities isn’t getting the best musicians in the room to play and record. His unique skill is taking whatever musicians, gear and equipment he happens to find in the room and bringing out songs and soundscapes they didn’t know they could create.
Vignette #2: The Military Leader
If you read or study military history, you quickly learn that generals rarely have an optimal combination of people, supplies and battlefield position at a time of enemy engagement.
The best generals throughout history are the ones who accepted the reality they were a) outnumbered, b) out of range of their supply chain and/or c) in a weak position and they won battle after battle desite these limits.
Vignette #3: The Master Chef
Have you ever watched the show, Chopped, on the Food Network?
The chef contestants are given a mystery box of ingredients. These ingredients never logically go together. However, each chef must craft plates that are original, tasty and well-presented. And they must do this in a short period of time.
The winner of each episode is the chef who can create amazing dishes with lousy ingredients and limited time.
So what’s the bottom line for you and me?
It’s this: our creativity doesn’t spring from abundance, it originates from our limitations.
Which means that you and I need to focus on those areas we feel are holding us back. Those limits we believe are keeping us stuck.
Actually, it's in those areas where we are challenged and frustrated where our greatest creativity hides.
(photo of Thomas Edison's Menlo Park Laboratory by Andrew Balet [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons)
Keitharsis is a blog that seeks to help you prepare and prune yourself for your creative work. New essays are published each Tuesday and Thursday.