In 1975 Stephen Spielberg was in the middle of directing a movie that would become a Hollywood classic. The revolutionary techniques used in this film would forever change the movie industry. Once it was completed and released he would shatter box office records.
But there was one major problem.
The shark wouldn’t work. Day after day production was delayed to repair the most sophisticated and expensive animatronic equipment ever built. And without a working shark, it was going to be pretty difficult to make the movie Jaws.
With anyone other than Spielberg at the helm Jaws would have been a theatrical and financial disaster. Yet somehow, Spielberg was able to take the limitation of a broken shark and make one of the greatest movies of all time.
Spielberg understands that limitations can be a good thing. They can force you down new paths to find creative solutions. The end result is often better than you ever could’ve done with no limits.
We’ll come back to Spielberg and Jaws in a minute, but first I want to show you five common limitations and how you can transform them into a strength instead.
You’ve got a wife, kids, and a full time job. How could you possibly take on any additional work (and yes, it is work to build your dream)?
One great thing comes from having no time: You have no time to waste.
Every single thing you do must be important and contributing to your vision. Instead of wasting time designing an elaborate website, you build an extremely focused one. Instead of endlessly tweaking an idea before you run with it, you GO!
To be successful and bring your vision to life you have to relentlessly execute only the most critical tasks (I highly recommend the quarterback method to help).
You might think having no money is a serious limitation to winning. I think the opposite. When you don’t have any money, you don’t have any money to waste. And when you don’t have any money to waste, you’ve significantly lowered the financial risk. What have you got to lose?
Having no money means your plan needs to fund itself somehow. The how is where you get creative.
Zappos began selling shoes online without any shoes at all. Seriously. They setup their website, and when someone purchased a pair of shoes, someone from Zappos went to the local shoe store, bought a pair, and mailed them to the online customer. No money to rent a warehouse. No money to stock inventory. No excuses!
So you want to start a business, but you can’t seem to find a great idea. Perfect. This is the perfect beginning for many successful ventures.
When you don’t have any idea where to begin, you have a completely clean slate where you can begin to learn. Talk to people with an open mind and see what problems they struggle with. Keep an eye open for solutions where you can make their lives easier.
Dane Maxwell never set out to build a seven figure document management business. He set out to research. He interviewed real estate professionals, found a problem, and created a solution to solve it. Simple.
It seems so easy watching a celebrity launch something new. They announce their new idea, and instantly thousands of loyal followers flock to it to support. When you don’t have that level of fame it can seem impossible to break through.
Jon Acuff taught me that having a small audience is a blessing in the beginning. You’re free to mess up without the whole world watching. You can experiment with ideas to find what works.
Remember when Netflix changed their pricing model and lost 800,000 members? They had a loyal audience, and there was some real backlash! They didn’t have the luxury you and I have to experiment in secret to find what works.
Maybe you don’t know how to do what you want to do. This can be a good thing. When you work in a field for a long time and build up a ton of experience, you also become somewhat blind to alternatives. There is your expert way to do something, and that’s it.
Coming into something completely fresh allows you to question things that experts won’t, and often times leads to a fresh take on a tired idea.
The Dollar Shave Club guy wasn’t a veteran of the razor business. He was a regular guy who wanted to know how to get a good shave without forking over your life savings for blades.
How Spielberg Made Jaws Work
It’s a simple choice really. Are you going to let your limitations define your success, or will they unleash something new and amazing?
Spielberg used the limitation of a malfunctioning shark to create cinematic greatness.
- Instead of footage of a ferocious shark hunting down a boat, he used the iconic shark fin cutting through the water.
- Instead of a giant shark jaws surging towards a fleeing swimmer, he showed the vulnerable kicking legs and murky depths.
The end result wowed critics and packed theatres for weeks! What’s holding you back?
What limitation have you turned into a strength?