In our last +1, we got our inner Freak on as we spent some time with Dav!d Rendall and learned to embrace constraints as we reminded ourselves to approach this whole game of life as Optimalists rather than Perfectionists—using our ideals as GUIDING STARS not distant shores.
We explored the value of constraints on a high level.
I promised to talk about the idea in a little more detail in terms of choosing what we want to do with our lives AND in the day-to-day of actually making things happen.
Dav!d kicks off the chapter on the power of limiting our options with a quote from Seth Godin who tells us: “You really can’t try to do everything, especially if you intend to be the best in the world.”
And, as I read this chapter I thought of chats I had back in the day with Steve Chandler when he and I worked 1-on-1.
He loved Alan Watts’s wisdom that tennis is more fun with a court (constraints!) and Igor Stravinsky’s wisdom that “The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision in the execution.”
He tells us: “In this age of information abundance and overload, those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out, so they can concentrate on what’s really important to them. Nothing is more paralyzing than the idea of limitless possibilities.
The idea that you can do anything is absolutely terrifying. The way to get over creative block is to simply place some constraints on yourself. It seems contradictory, but when it comes to creative work, limitations mean freedom… The right constraints can lead to your very best work. My favorite example? Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat with only 236 different words, so his editor bet him he couldn’t write a book with only 50 different words. Dr. Seuss came back and won the bet with Green Eggs and Ham, one of the bestselling children’s books of all time.”
(btw: As I reread that, I thought of our Note on the brilliant biography Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel where we talk about those exact same constraints. Check it out!)
As I chat about in our Notes on Steal Like an Artist, I LOVE constraints.
They are my friend (when I remember them).
Obvious constraints I use creatively include: Each PhilosophersNote is SIX pages long. Not 3 or 8 or 12 or… SIX.
The +1s are short and sweet not crazy long. (Except for the rare +11. lol)
The Optimal Living 101 classes and Mastery Series sessions? They’re each 10 Ideas and around an hour. Not 3 or 7 or 14 or 22. TEN! (Hah.)
Back to YOU.
What limitations can you impose on yourself?
How can you CONSTRAIN your options more so you can enjoy your life more?
Simplify. Go all in. On being your best.