Posted on Apr 29, 2011
I respect my limitations, but I don’t use them as an excuse.
– Stephen R. Donaldson
If I gave a child a stick, what would I be giving them? To the child, I would be giving them a gun, a sword, a boat, a tool for digging or drawing, something to reach high places, and very likely, something to clobber their sibling or friend with. If I gave you a stick, what would I be giving you?
Children have not yet learned to be limited by what is placed before them. What they do instead is use imagination, creativity, and more than a little energy to make up for what is lacking. Even with nothing in their hands and no toy to be had, a child’s imagination is more than enough to provide their entertainment.
If “necessity is the mother of invention,” then surely, limitation is the father. When you have a task set before you and when you are limited by your tools or circumstances, do you submit to the limitation, or do you get creative? Whether it’s using a butter knife as a screwdriver or inventing something never seen before to solve a problem, we’ve all overcome obstacles in spite of what hinders us. We should therefore no longer see limitations as things holding us back. Instead, we should see them as strengths and avenues for creative breakthroughs; they are the springboard to show off how exceptional we are.
Think about the moon landings: how many calculations and systems had to be perfect in order to land men on the moon? With less computing power than what comes standard in a modern clock radio, America somehow managed to do it, limitations and all. In spite of our limitations, or because of them, the space race launched America into the information age and a new age of prosperity.
What happens when your Internet connection dies, or your preferred tool is, for some reason, no longer available? Do you stop work? For a short time, maybe, but eventually we have to find something to do. And we do; some of us begin to brainstorm and plan out our next moves, some of us use alternative tools, some of us find new routes altogether, but we all get creative.
The limitations we face can be the breeding ground for our creativity. They force us to rethink old beliefs, to challenge long held notions, to stretch beyond comfort zones, and to shatter paradigms. Far from being the weights holding us back, our limitations may be the foundation for our achievement, genius, and future.