You may not have ever thought of limitations as a good thing, but if used correctly, they can inspire genius! Whether you’re facing your next big step in life, a brand new responsibility, or looking to explore your creative side, we’ve got just the motivation for you.

You don’t want to miss out on the inspiration in today’s video—it’s a blueprint to endless creativity! Particularly, with these fun friends as our guides:

Image: David Zinn sitting on his front porch steps with his little creations gathered around him

Courtesy of Jonnie Lewis

The upside of limitations!

Most of us probably don’t hear “limitations” and relate them to something entirely good. And yet, they seem to be one of life’s renewable resources. They’re always present! So what if we stopped looking at them as hurdles in the way of our progress, and instead saw them as a tool? One that we can always tap into for motivation and inspiration, particularly when we find ourselves stuck and unsure of how to move forward.

When street artist David Zinn first went out onto the sidewalk with a box of chalk, suddenly, he knew what to do. A flood of ideas came to him, for he wasn’t facing a smooth, blank page where anything could happen. Instead, this surface had constraints: lumps, bumps, cracks, holes, random pieces of grass—a far different terrain than the perfect page he was having trouble navigating in his sketchbook.

Working in nature, these obstacles forced him to find workarounds. And these sparks of inspiration—of possibilities considered and solutions found—fueled by those limitations unlocked exactly what he was going to do next.

Filmmaker Jonnie Lewis created this brilliant short, 3-minute film about our friend David Zinn, called “Around the Block.” (Get it? Creative block?) Here’s the fun inspiration you need to take that next big step!

Looking for more of David Zinn’s brilliant little creatures? Check out his website, or the book “Underfoot Menagerie” with over 100 of his drawings! It’ll keep them around forever, even after they’re washed away with the rain. Or give him a follow on Instagram or Facebook to have his work pop up in your social feed.

And check out more fantastic work from the filmmaker who brought us this beautiful video, Jonnie Lewis, over on his Vimeo page or website. Give him a follow on Instagram, too!

Want to try your hand at creating some chalk art around town? Our affiliate partner, Blick, is a fantastic place to get all of the supplies and every color of chalk you need to start sparking your creativity. They even support the amazing Pasadena Chalk Festival, providing them with the materials to invite people into their communities’ streets to fill their home with impermanent works of art. As an affiliate, when you purchase from Blick using links that we provide, EWC gets a small commission, too!

The secret to success!

It’s a really, really, top secret bit of information, are you ready? You sure? Ok—do it. That’s it! Do something, anything at all. Use what you have and go for it. In place of upsetting Nike by saying their trademarked slogan, I’ll repeat what David said:

“So, you could sit there and sweat and strain. ‘Oh, maybe I should wait for the best idea.’ But out on the sidewalk in the middle of the day, you don’t have time to wait for the best idea because if you wait it will get dark, or it will start to rain, and you’ll go home having created nothing. If you’re going to draw anything today, you better start. Because it’ll be dark eventually and it’ll be too late.” —David Zinn

Life’s fresh starts can put us under a lot of pressure. You may be heading into a new adventure with a million possibilities swimming through your head and no idea where to begin. Or, the opposite might be true: you could be at the beginning of something new without a clue what to do next.

Use the limitations that you find in your life to your own benefit; use them to inspire you. It doesn’t matter if the ideas are actually any good, as long as you’re doing something. Even just going for a walk and enjoying the randomness of the world, you’re laying down the tracks for more ideas to flow in.

For a great look at how to get going and actually begin, you need to check out what these legendary creatives have to say about the process in this article:

10 minutes

Unleashing Creativity… A Simple Guide for All

If you've ever tried to create something, you know the whole process can be quite frustrating. From finding that great idea to showing the final piece to someone, here are 3 short videos (from a few creative minds you may recognize) that can help us rethink how well we're doing.

Read More

And remember: none of these ideas that you pursue need to be permanent. David’s chalk creatures are the perfect example: they exist for a moment, and then go away with the next rain. You don’t need to totally commit yourself. No one needs to see what you create or do besides you! Try it out and move on whenever you feel like it, to whatever the next idea is that has now come unblocked.

“The Obstacle Is the Way”

If you’d like to dive deeper into the idea of using the obstacles in your life to your benefit, I highly suggest getting yourself the book “The Obstacle Is the Way” by Ryan Holiday. He beautifully leads us through the ways to find a path forward when we’re feeling super stuck and frustrated. It’s one of those books whose wisdom will always come back to you—I can’t recommend it enough!

And for another great story on using one’s limitations to bring forth ideas that no one had ever considered before, you need to hear Daniel Kish’s story. After losing his eyes as a young child, Daniel learned how to see with the click of his tongue. That’s right, Daniel learned how to echolocate—you know, like bats and dolphins do—and has been teaching others who have lost their sight how to do it, too!

15 minutes

Living Beyond Expectations: Daniel Kish

Despite not having eyes, Daniel Kish has taught himself to "see" with human "echo-location" and he is teaching others. His story is a remarkable testament to what happens when we never get the memo about things that are "impossible" and instead make what we have work for us!

Read More

As always, my friend, stay open to new possibilities. The limitations put into your life may actually be your superpower!

  • Sam

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Notes:

  1. Lewis, Jonnie. “Around the Block.” Vimeo, 9 Feb. 2021, vimeo.com/497319882. Accessed 9 Feb. 2021.

Sam Burns

Editor in Chief

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.