The Beauty of Limitations


Hyma Pillay


2 min read

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Talking about limitations seems to be a forbidden topic in personal development. We are often encouraged by self-appointed gurus to think of personal growth as something infinite.

While we at Potential Matrix do think that personal growth is often a lifetime journey full of rich beautiful moments, we should also look at the flip side of the coin: how limitations and constraints can help us grow even further.

What we mean by this is that limitations help you:

  • Clarify your goals
  • Be more productive and creative
  • Appreciate life

Let’s discuss these points further:

1. Limitations help you clarify your goals

There are many stories on how entrepreneurs were born out of survival instincts in poor impoverished communities.

When faced with various limitations in your environment, you need to find the best ways to utilise whatever resources you have. This ultimately leads to a greater level of productivity and creativity.

2. Limitations help you be more productive and creative

When I was young, I remember being told by a teacher to draw “anything” on a piece of paper. I just looked at her blankly, not knowing what to do, until she told me to draw an animal out of exasperation.

Immediately my mind could focus and I picked the lion, my favourite beast in the wild (perhaps I watched too many reruns of Lion King).

Now as a writer and photographer, I am all too aware how many of my peers in either or both industries seem to think that the notion of “the sky is the limit” is the best rule.

While that notion is beautiful in theory, it does not quite work in reality. It is best that we set certain guidelines to push ourselves to be more productive and creative on a daily basis.

For example, I set a personal rule to write not more than 500 words on a blog post. I hated it at first. But, I then got used to the rule and began to see how powerful the limitation could be.

Instead of rambling on and on and lose my audience in the process, I benefited much more by having a writing cap and being forced to be concise with my words.

3. Limitations help  you appreciate life

The notion of seemingly infinite growth of things is silly. We have only one earth with only that many natural resources – that is probably the most powerful limitation that the human race faces.

As written, limitations can be powerful tools of resourcefulness, productivity and creativity. So, we should rightly appreciate limitations and make the best out of potentially frustrating circumstances.

Ian Chew is a branding strategist and co-author of Potential Matrix™. Specialising in content marketing to nurture brands, Ian has been featured by Canadian Geographic, CBC and Global TV News for his expertise. He can be reached on Twitter @chewingbranding. For more insightful leadership content, visit


First published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 8 November 2014
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