Embracing Limitations

Finding new and creative ways to work with the things that hold you back.

I’ve been haunted by the inability to focus ever since I was a kid. Call it whatever you want… attention deficit, obsessive compulsiveness, it really doesn’t matter. Some say it’s a byproduct of creativity — a curse you have to reign if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur. Along those lines, I’ve always interpreted my lack of focus as a limitation holding me back from being great at just one thing.

Like so many others, I’m inspired every day by nature, people, problems and ideas — all of which make me want create endless things in parallel, both digital and physical. So, I go off on tangents, creating whatever/however I can, putting things out there with good intentions of growing them into sustainable ideas, products and services. There’s no better feeling than making an idea come to life, and the process of doing so is what I love most. But then, something awful happens every time. The minute I finish something new, I fall off that proverbial cliff, lose interest and begin the process all over again on a different idea.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve had one great success followed by countless failures — the difference between being for the most part good timing (right thing, right place, right time). When timing is on your side, even those so-so ideas can succeed. Once you do have something substantial to concentrate on, focus becomes less of a problem — but (depending on the type of person you are) not for long. I’ve heard enough stories and have had enough personal experience to know burnout on some level is fairly inevitable for most creative professionals.

I’ve tried for years to overcome my inability to focus on just one thing thinking it would be the solution to all my problems, but now I’ve decided on a different approach. Going back to what I love most (the process of taking an idea and making it real either in concept or finished product) — I’ve realized that maybe the thing I’ve considered to be a limitation for so long is something I actually need to embrace.

All I really want to do is design and make things as I’m inspired by problems and ideas. Instead of trying to focus and build businesses around every idea, I’m just going to put them out there, open source, for anyone to use and then move on to the next. I’m banking on there being value in that process and hopefully by embracing my lack of focus, I’ll be able to overcome it in some weird backwards way. So far, just shifting my perspective has worked wonders for my frame of mind. The anxiety of having to focus on just one thing is completely gone because I know that once I get an idea out the door, I’ll be able to work on something new without remorse.

So, what’s holding you back? Maybe it’s something you’ve tried to change because everything you’ve read says you should, but at your core, it might just be a part of who you are. I’m not suggesting we give up and give in to our limitations (I’ll never stop trying to make myself better), but maybe shifting your perspective and working in a new creative way with your limitations might help you push through.