Posts tagged solutions

Limiting Yourself Can Boost Creativity

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When I was growing up, my mother would say, “Look at Picasso’s early work. He knew how to paint conventionally. Then he came up with his own style. But the early work tells you that the later work was the result of his talent and vision, not the result of someone who couldn’t paint shapes correctly.”

In college, I had a seminar class led by a professor who would only accept two-page papers. He said that if we couldn’t make and support an argument in that amount of space, we hadn’t focused our topics enough.

A few years later, I worked on a print project that had specific space limitations. The freelancer said, “I can’t be creative if you’re going to be that strict.” I pointed out that all work is done within certain parameters, and that I thought she could do a great job within the ones we had. Lo and behold, she delivered.

I was reminded of all of this as I read Seth Godin’s post about embracing constraints. As he says, “Once you can thrive in a world filled with constraints, it’s even easier to do well when those constraints are loosened.”

There’s a lot of validity to this. Identify your goals and find ways to meet them. If you can do this when your resources are limited, then you’re really developing your skills and thinking creatively about challenges and solutions. If you can create something beautiful by coloring within the lines, you’re going to be much better able to choose how to color outside them.

3 Ways to Handle Criticism

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We all have room for improvement. And we all want to get it right the first time. All too often, this results in conflict. Here are some tips on how to handle that.

1) Accept that you’re not going to get it right the first time, every time.
Life is one big learning experience, and sometimes we just screw up. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and find a new approach to whatever didn’t work. People are more likely to overlook your errors if you acknowledge them and look for solutions.

2) Recognize that it is not “My way or the highway.” There are lots of solutions. Is yours the best? Maybe. Maybe not. When someone disagrees with your idea or approach, focus on what is best for your project, rather than what is best for your ego. If your way is best, be prepared to demonstrate why. If it’s just “your way,” consider the merits of “their way.”

3) Consider the source. Sometimes the criticism comes from someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about, and isn’t a stakeholder. The comment is still worth considering, because someone with an outside view may have a perspective you don’t, and can’t. But if the criticism is based on a lack of familiarity with project goals, organizational mission, or previous decisions, then it’s probably fine to let it lie.

Please note that #3 is not a license for rudeness. Being a jerk will come back to haunt you.

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