Constraints, Creativity, and the No. 2 Highest Paid Dead Celebrity
The highest paid dead celebrity of 2020 was Michael Jackson. No. 2 on the list is the children’s author, Dr. Seuss. He died in 1990. According to the Associated Press, Seuss earned $33,000,000.00 in 2020. The book that made Dr. Seuss a global superstar was, The Cat in the Hat (1957).
Just think what you could do if you had a bigger budget and fewer restrictions.
Gartner finds that day-to-day pressures, resistance to change, compliance restrictions, executive resistance, and lack of funding are the top five barriers to innovation.
You feel like you need more, but maybe you have too much.
Constraints make you creative.
The Cat in the Hat had a word list just over 200 words. Dr. Seuss wrestled for months to find a rhyme on a list of words a first-grader understood. The story was born when he finally saw ‘cat’ and ‘hat’.
Dr. Seuss thrived using made-up words. But constraints made him a phenomenon.
Success isn’t about getting what you want; it’s about using what you have.
Leaders live within constraints. The question isn’t, “What do you wish you had?” The question is, “How will you maximize what you have?”
Spend less time complaining about things you can’t do.
“I wish I could…,” is a destructive myth.
“If only,” is pathetic.
It’s what happens after you can’t go any further that matters most.
I see what you can’t do. What can you do?
The story that took Dr. Seuss over the top began with two simple words. After The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss’s editor bet him he couldn’t write a book using a shorter word list. He wrote his best seller of all time, Green Eggs and Ham, using a list of 50 words.
The constraints of innovation create innovation.
How do leaders stifle creativity?
How might leaders inspire innovation today?
“The question isn’t, ‘What do you wish you had?’ The question is, ‘How will you maximize what you have?’ ”
This question resonates strongly with me, having helped run a meagerly-funded public safety agency for a couple of decades. No matter how tight the purse-strings of our funding body, the mission remained the same and the calls for service only increased. We used to jokingly quote the old saw, “We have done so much, with so little, for so long, that we are now qualified to everything, with nothing, forever.” The maximization of available resources, plus the identification and marshaling of external resources (finding grant money wherever it was available, coordinating with other public and private organizations with complementary missions, etc.) were essential to providing adequate levels of service despite tight budgets. Creativity and innovation were encouraged and fostered throughout the organization; I used to tell my people, “Bring me ideas that scare me a little, and I’m not easily scared.”
Without widespread innovation and creativity, we could not have served our community nearly as well as we did.
Wow!! Thanks for jumping in today Jim. It’s so easy to whine about what we don’t have. It takes leadership to shift toward positive action.
How might leaders inspire innovation today?
Provide a simple clear challenge. such as, “write a best seller children’s book only using a list of 50 words.”
Dan, are you up for a challenge? Write your next blog only using sentences that have 3 or fewer words.
Wow! That’s a challenge. (Do contractions count?)
Fascinating post! Who would have thought that creativity and innovation are born from constraints? I was reminded of my own experience that helped validate this idea, though: “What can I make for dinner with only what I have to avoid going to the grocery store?” Boom! New dinner ideas are born! I put off grocery shopping for at least another 3 days, coming up with ideas to use what I already had. (Gotta say: Running out of dog food is what caused me to finally make the trip to the store.)
Thanks Rebecca. I assume you weren’t eating dog food!! 😉 Seriously, the idea of using what is within arms reach to do something useful is a wonderful challenge.
You can’t do more with less; you can only do less with less. That’s why constraints make you creative: they force you to think about WHY you are doing what you are doing so you can identify what absolutely needs to be done. In other words, constraints are the cure for scope creep.
Thanks Jennifer. Your insight expands the conversation by narrowing the focus. I suppose it’s easy to wander around, but asking ‘why’ helps narrow the field of vision.
Just for clarification, what you CAN DO is not restricted by past job choices — growth is multi-dimensional
Thanks for adding your insight. It’s important not to limit ourselves by things we have done in the past.