A lot of social entrepreneurs, and non-social entrepreneurs for that matter, face limitations each and every day. Indonesia-based Nadya Saib previously spoke about her challenges working in an environment where women face the social stigma of striking out on their own. Others have warned about the difficulties of walking on uncharted territory.
For artist Phil Hansen, his limitation was a tremor he had developed in art school that caused his hand to shake involuntarily. This tremor was the result of many years using the pointillism technique to produce drawings made up of many small dots.
This was devastating for Hansen. He even had trouble drawing a straight line.
In the end, Hansen left art school and later dropped art altogether. But this wouldn’t last long. Hansen just couldn’t stay away from art and decided to see a neurologist about the tremor.
The neurologist told him he had permanent nerve damage, but also made a suggestion that would become the turning point for Hansen. The neurologist told him to embrace the shake.
So he did.
In his TED talk, Hansen shows the art he made using squiggly lines instead of his beloved dots. He realized that despite the tremor he could still make art that he loved. He also realized that he could still produce art using the pointillism technique, but rather than small dots, he would paint on larger surfaces that wouldn’t cause his hand to hurt.
“Embracing a limitation could actually drive creativity,” says Hansen.
Hansen began painting by imposing certain limitations. For instance, instead of painting on a canvas, what if he could only paint on his chest? Or instead of painting with a brush, what if he could only use the side of his hands?
“What I thought would be the ultimate limitation, actually turned out to be the ultimate liberation,” says Hansen.
“Learning to be creative within the confines of our limitations is the best hope we have to transform ourselves and, collectively, transform our world.”
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