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Blog // Thoughts
September 3, 2015

Why Are There No Missing Tools?

Many of favourite childhood memories involve afternoons spent in my father’s garage. I remember going to look at the simple prefab structures, thin metal stretched over wooden frames, that my father thought would fit in our back yard, then a few weeks later, watching the new structure take form. I never imagined how many laughs and […]

Many of favourite childhood memories involve afternoons spent in my father’s garage. I remember going to look at the simple prefab structures, thin metal stretched over wooden frames, that my father thought would fit in our back yard, then a few weeks later, watching the new structure take form. I never imagined how many laughs and life lessons would emerge from that modest building.

Model Obsessions

In my early teens I fell in love with remote control cars. There was a hobby store near my home, a magnet for local boys, that had a healthy selection of model cars and parts. The only problem was, the imported, ready to assemble kits were far too expensive for me to buy, or even ask for as a birthday or Christmas gift.

But, I could afford, with my modest pocket money allowance, to buy spare parts. So I decided to build a car, using the tools in my father’s garage and any scrap bits of metal I could find. Any pieces I couldn’t make myself I would buy (like bearings, steering arms or motors). Over the course of several months I figured out how a remote controls worked from looking at free brochures and reconnaissance trips to that local hobby store. Eventually, I built a solid model car that could run and turn; at which time my father helped me finish by buying a remote control unit for my birthday. Then I was driving my very own, hand built, remote control car around the neighbourhood.

The Kind of Creative Freedom That Matters

One of the biggest misunderstandings many folks have is the belief that in order to be creative they need to be free from any limitations or restrictions. They believe unconstrained freedom is essential for creativity. If anything, the complete opposite is true.

It’s in the face of limitations that our creativity reveals itself. The creative freedom that matters is the freedom to accept our current circumstances and make something anyway. That kind of freedom is tough, reliable, and able to cope with struggle and disappointment.

The danger in longing to be limitation-free before we create is that it makes us susceptible to trying to buy our way to creativity, to focus on what we don’t have, or how circumstances don’t always go in our favour.  We try to consume our way to creativity, which is an expensive, and unreliable way to live and work. There’s always a potential excuse for not creating.

The No Missing Tools Challenge

Here’s a challenge for you, what if you drew a line under your possessions right now and said, this is enough? What can you make with what you have? Chances are, if you’re a serious hobbyist, as a photographer, musician, painter or whatever, you already have enough stuff to make something that you could share, exhibit, play or sell to the world.

The question – what can I make right now – will, of course, beget a further question, why am I not making that? For most of us, the thing that holds us back has nothing to do with not having another lens, guitar, or whatever tool we use in our creative work.  It’s worry, self-doubt, fear or something else, deep within us, something that buying another tool, book, or course can never fix.

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