On Beauty (3 of 3)…

I have a thing about beauty. Not beauty in the traditional sense of the word (still love that type of beauty), but the inherent beauty in problems and solutions. Every problem we face challenges us to rise to the occasion and arrive at a solution, one that is beautiful and worthy of the problem.

When you respect and devote yourself to the problem, your solution may not be perfect but it will be beautiful. And to respect and devote ourself to a problem means we need to take the mind, heart and soul of an artisan.

Great! It makes a lot of sense but how exactly do we throw our “soul” into a problem? Normally we throw time, money and/or people to problems and that tends to fix things. But this can be expensive, wasteful and at times, quite unimaginative and soulless.

When you see true beauty in a solution (or anything for that matter), there is an elegant interplay between the potential answers to the problem and the constraints evident in those answers. When we are constrained, we tend to become more creative, imaginative, ingenious. As Marissa Mayer said,

“Creativity loves constraints.”

Yet constraints get a bad rap. We view them as restrictive and limiting and many times, we fall victims to the constraint and can’t see a way out of it. In A Beautiful Constraint, Adam Morgan and Mark Barden suggest when faced with a constraint, we tend to adopt different personalities as it relates to that constraint:

  • Victim – someone who lowers their ambition when faced with a constraint.
  • Neutraliser – someone who refuses to lower the ambition, but finds a different way to deliver the ambition instead.
  • Transformer – someone who finds a way to use a constraint as an opportunity, possibly even increasing their ambition along the way.

What determines which personality we adopt is a combination of three factors:

  • Mindset – do I believe it is possible?
  • Method – do I know how to start to do it?
  • Motivation – how much do I want to do it?

Clearly a High score on all three of these will shift us towards the Transformer stage more readily and in some cases, even become what Morgan and Barden call a “Proactive Transformer“, someone who deliberately imposes constraints to drive better thinking or new possibilities.

An artisan exists comfortably with constraint. Me? Not so much. But I am getting better at it. I have always been an excellent Neutraliser and that has worked well for me. Lately, I have been setting myself up with many constraints and while I am nowhere near the Proactive Transformer stage, I am slowly seeing the beauty in this strategy.

What about you? How do you deal with that constraint?

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