Everyone has one in 2020, something that changed your plans or kept you from doing what you expected to do this year. So what is the lesson from 2020? How about Embrace Your Constraints!
Real Constraints vs Self Imposed Constraints
Life has real constraints that we need to accept and adjust accordingly. Gravity, time, race, or height are not really changeable. But most constraints are self-imposed. Most entrepreneurs I talk to at my incubator tell me they are constrained by capital (isn’t everyone), people, technology, brand awareness… ! The list is endless. You can identify them by how they are described. When someone starts a sentence about a situation with, “If I only had….”, or “I lack…,” or “Yeah, BUT….” they are allowing self-imposed constraints to cloud their thinking.
Seth Godin in his latest book, The Practice, reminded me that embracing rather than complaining about constraints triggers real creativity and innovation. Once you accept constraints as the borders of your puzzle, you can begin to put the pieces together of your latest creation. More great thinking is found inside the box than outside!
Gene Hendrix taught me the truth about constraints. Gene owns his own tree service company, a dream he had since he first climbed a tree. Gene fell from a tree, severed his spinal cord, and wound up paralyzed. Talk about constrained! When his physician came in to discuss his options with his disability, Gene cut him off. “Doc, don’t tell me what I don’t have; tell me what I still got.” Gene embraced his constraint and let his God given creative juices go to work. He invented a hoist system to move his wheelchair from his truck bed to his door. He installed hand driven controls on his truck and away he went. When people heard of his approach, his business actually grew.
In the process with more time on his hands, he discovered a new talent: spiritual poetry. Every day he knocks out poetry about God’s hand on his life. He still coaches his boys and remains active in his community.
Learning to Embrace Constraints
When you feel you have hit the proverbial brick wall, try the following three approaches:
Retrace - Most of us believe our dilemmas are unique. Rarely is this true. Spend time researching what others in your situation have done. The more you look into others’ progress, the more you discover they had constraints and just worked within them until they found a solution.
Replace – When you replace negativity with “tell me what I got,” you activate the creativity that God wired into everyone. Watch any two year old playing and realize they have more constraints than adults, yet seem to come up with infinite ways to play within their constraints. Worldwide.
Grace - Crazy as it sounds, offering gratitude to those that put you in your predicament opens your creative door a little wider. Someone or something put you in a position to find something you never realized was waiting on you to find. Gratitude relaxes you and allows you to more quickly get into the flow of looking for options.
Share - One final thing: When embracing constraints results in your progress or continuous improvement (and it will), follow Seth Godin’s advice. In , The Practice, Godin recommends that you generously share your work with mankind. Great advice from Seth.
Wishing you a 2021 full of embraced constraints.