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Limit Creativity, Get Innovation

Limit Creativity, Get Innovation

Go create something. I don’t care what, how much it cost, the purpose, or the form, but the result must be supremely innovative, worth every penny, and profoundly significant to the human race. Take your time.

The reasonable person finds this overwhelming. Creativity’s root is the tension filled conflict between the imagination and the physical: input and output, insight and achievement, learning and performing. Remove conflict and there is no need for creativity. Imagination v. reality – like a courtroom battle — negotiation leads to creative solutions. In onerous jargon laden corporate speak: look for the win/win.

I recollect just enough from algebra 101 to make my neuro-memories retrieve the brain pain of too many variables – x ,y, a, b, c – give me an integer – please – I don’t know what Vanna White sees in those vowels. The vagueness compelled me to walk clinging to the hallway walls attempting to reconcile formless reality as I struggled to see the patterns. Orientation needs form and the walls offer structure; something to support yet overcome.

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Authors note: Beware of those who are chronically structured: desks with paperclips stuck to magnets, micro-vacuum for computer keys, viral wipes for the phone, everything at right angles, nothing astray, and not a speck of dust. Move a chair and you’d better duck a piercing gaze set to stun. Uncomfortable with the randomness of imagination, it’s discarded for existential freeing formality. Think out of the box? No way, the walls to the box are too perfect. Besides that, It’s a padded box; very comfortable.

If you’re human, you’re creative – or at least potentially so – even if all you create is morning coffee with your special recipe of Folgers, Maxwell House and a little cinnamon. Do you really think the pleasure of life creation (a.k.a. orgasm) is a coincidence? I’m no spiritual guru, but if you want to know the meaning of life, creativity is the low hanging fruit. Like a non-linear river, it flows: imagination > passion > discovery > craft > innovation – input, output and over again.

The idea is that without conflict (constraint) there is little to challenge the creative spirit. It’s as though the river has no banks. It’s a life-sized puddle. Even unbridled creative freedom seeks structure like a paper clip to magnet. Add to the assignment: go create something, anything, but use oil paints, or play in 4/4 time, suddenly the puddle isn’t a puddle – it flows. The canvas size, instrument quality, budget, deadline, or whatever, all count as conflict, and conflict inspires process.

To borrow from personal experience, I was handed an assignment to take photographs in a Parisian garden of business people interacting. Anyone should consider an open assignment like this a blank canvas rolling in opportunity. Yet, I found my creative river was too wide, nearly a puddle; low flow. I adjusted by limiting the subject to two business people and my tools to a single camera lens. This is to say, I narrowed the channel to swell the creative tide.

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Childish artistic abandon is high in conflict: a freely imaginative and high discovery conflict that’s markedly limited in craftsmanship, insight, and intelligence but not in spirit or a fearless disregard for the impossible. In contrast, a highly skilled musician in mid career confronts with near limitless skills yet with bound passion. We learn to bridle creative passion because our bank account says, “don’t mess up” or our pride demands we out perform reputation. Aware of the impossible and fearing failure, well-healed creatives are drawn to comfort.

Creative comfort is like a professional athlete outrunning a three year old in high heels – it’s a skill mismatch owing to insecurity and laziness; Impressive and uninspiring at the same time. If creativity is your profession, failure isn’t an option at the day of delivery, yet avoiding the breakthrough borderline is to serve leftovers; tasty, but often not as good as the first time.

Dispense with the invisible nuance. Creativity is a mix of imagination, passion and craftsmanship. Like an algebraic equation, the variables aren’t equal but, nevertheless, are intimately related. For instance, high craftsmanship can carry passion and imagination on an enviable journey. Reaching new heights of world-class craftsmanship can be all-consuming, forfeiting passion and imagination. Time to reframe the conflict: perhaps a little more passion letting skill take care of itself.

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Mary Ann Mayer – Google VP – in an article for Business Week titled “Turning Limitations into Innovation” pointed out that “Creativity is often misunderstood. People often think of it in terms of artistic work — unbridled, unguided effort that leads to beautiful effect … They’re beautiful because creativity triumphed over the rules. … Creativity, in fact, thrives best when constrained.” She continues by stating, “it is from the interaction between constraint and the disregard for the impossible that unexpected insights, cleverness, and imagination are borne.”

Without doubt, “rules were meant to be broken” is an original utterance of an innovator. Artists don’t meticulously color inside the lines without existing beleaguered by craftsmanship. Constraints aren’t rules as much as they’re challenges to overcome. Don’t like the outcome? Break the rules or revise the constraints.

The proclivity to relax is often more powerful than the urge to innovate. Inspiration may involve breaking the rules and sending the imagination in a new direction. Inertial creativity is characterized by the comfort of least effort v. the pleasure of innovation. Introducing new constraints, thus spicing the conflict, tends to inspire innovation. Otherwise stated: get off your butt and try something outside your comfort zone – but first, redefine the zone.

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Artists sink into despair with a canvas too large and blank before passion smothering constraints have an effect. Creation is native to humanity; we’re born to it and because of it. Traversing the conflict of imagination and reality includes framing a canvas. An innovative solution is a dependant of the constraints, and realized in spite of the rules.

The author, Bruce DeBoer is a professional photographer and writer from North Carolina, USA. He can be reached through: http://www.DeboerWorks.com or http://www.PermissionToSuck.com

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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