Constraints drives innovation

When writing my MBA application essays, what annoyed me the most was ‘word-limit’.

I would write a beautiful piece and then find it 300 words over the limit. I would now have to chop the extra words and slaughter its beauty. What travesty!

Cursing the admissions committee, I would edit and polish the truncated version until it came below the word limit.

And yet, every single time, without exception, the ‘truncated’ essay somehow became better — by a mile. Now, the earlier ‘beautiful version’ looked embarrassingly bloated and verbose.

That is how I discovered my recipe for writing: Write tightly till you can’t cut any more words. And then, chop ANOTHER 30% — now you are getting somewhere.

This is true not just for writing but also life in general. With fewer resources, we focus on what matters.

Companies do random things when they have too much money (e.g., rebranding, M&A). Similarly, we accumulate junk in our houses, making our life a nightmare. With too much time on hand, we procrastinate, waking up just before the deadline.

I am not glorifying scarcity and deprivation. But quite often, having less time, money, or resources is a blessing we don’t recognize.

Constraint forces innovation. Excess only makes us fat and lazy.

– Rajan

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