Have you ever noticed that when you have less options, you become more creative? There is even a popular saying, started by Plato by the way: „Necessity is the mother of invention“.

In fact, what can seem like a dead-end problem can often be just the constraint that leads to an unbeatable solution. An example of this is something that happened in 1941, during the World War II. Great Britain was going through a severe shortage of all kinds of metals. This was a huge problem for the aircraft industry. But Geoffrey de Havilland, an aircraft designer, had a stroke of genius. He realized Britain had plenty of wood and timber. So he designed a very simple fighter plane that could be made almost entirely of wood. It was called the „Mosquito“, a name that reflected on the qualities of the construction: it was small and light and could be fitted with small and light engines at half the production costs of steel aircraft. And as a consequence, the Mosquito was faster than any German fighter plane which made it practically unhittable and almost eliminated the war casualties of the British fighter pilots.

Another striking examples of how a constraint may be a shortcut to creative genius is Ludwig van Beethoven‘s handling of a hearing condition that rendered him stone-deaf by the age of 44 in 1814. His perhaps most prominent masterpiece, the Ninth Symphony, premiered in 1824 and he directed it himself by giving cues to the conductor. But as the story goes, the composer had to be turned around to see the tumultuous applause of the audience because he could hear neither it nor the orchestra. How did he do that?! How did a composer and a performer handle such a severe constraint? At some point he had stopped playing concerts and thus lost a lucrative source of income, but he never stopped composing. In fact, some say that the stages of progression of his hearing loss which affects the high and low frequencies first, is detectable in his compositions. Be that as it may, I am here to tell you that this condition is no fun as I happen to have it too but nowadays surgery can help. Beethoven had no such resources but what he never lost, was his inner hearing and the ability to compose! In fact he produces his most prominent work while being legally deaf!

We all have our inner mind and inner sight and inner hearing and the awareness that go with them to make meaning of things. These stories illustrate how a severe constraint can become a shortcut to superior insights and solutions. And it is often the constraints we perceive as obstacles that drive our most creative and ingenious efforts not only to quicker and superior solutions but even to major breakthroughs!

Perhaps there are constraints in the way you manage your business or just everyday life which can lead you to come up with new ways of achieving an outcome you have never even considered possible before!

Because a black belt is just a white belt who turns obstacles into shortcuts!

© Teodora Rudolph. All rights reserved 2017, Zürich, Switzerland