The Amazing Creativity and Productivity Hack I Learned From an 8-Year-Old

mindset May 27, 2020

One of my favorite shows is Gordon Ramsey’s MasterChef Junior.  It features a bunch of 8 to13-year-old kids competing for $100,000 and the coveted MasterChef title.  

And boy, can these kids cook!

My favorite episode was from Season 2.  Adorable 8-year-old Abby stunned the judges when she created an amazing dish with only 2 ingredients.  It was quite an accomplishment, especially since all the other kids had a lot more ingredients to work with. 

I know … it sounds unfair.  But it started with a challenge to cook as many perfect, sunny side up eggs as they could in 10 minutes.  What the judges didn’t tell them was that each successful egg earned them an ingredient for the REAL cooking challenge – creating a signature dish for their future dream restaurant.

The kids cooked anywhere between 4 and 10 perfectly sunny side up eggs … except poor little Abby.  She only managed to cook 2 that were good enough to pass the judges’ high standards.  That meant she was only allowed to choose 2 ingredients for her signature dish.

Sounds almost impossible.  But what Abby pulled together knocked the socks off the judges.

Abby’s dish was brilliant!  She made Broiled Salmon with Asparagus Five Ways – sautéed, boiled, fried bottoms, fried tops, and asparagus soup. The judges liked it so much Abby was named one of the 2 top chefs of the evening!

The Secret Behind Abby’s Success

Most people think having fewer resources puts them at a disadvantage.  In fact, little Abby burst into tears for the first time that season when the judges explained her fate.  (I would have, too.)

But this is the unexpected benefit of limitations.  They force us to be creative and think outside of the box. And people often do amazing things that they wouldn’t have thought to do otherwise!  

In fact, imposing a limitation is one of the productivity hacks many copywriters use.  We often give ourselves a fake deadline which helps us to write better.  Writing fast helps to disengage our logical brain, which gets in the way of creativity. That allows us to write a “shitty first draft” that we can go back and edit later.

The other reason why self-imposed time limits are good is that they circumvent another common problem …

The dreaded Parkinson’s Law

As you may know, Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”  Basically it means that you’ll take as much time to accomplish something as you are given.  That’s why projects without deadlines tend to drag on forever.

I’ve been dealing with this problem myself.  I’ve been working on a website update for almost a year!  Never mind that one of the things I do is to help health & wellness coaches with their websites.  That doesn’t make it any easier. 

But what IS putting a fire under me is that I’m about to launch a course that will help health & wellness coaches attract and engage more clients using their website.  And my website has to reflect what I teach.  I can’t launch my course until it does.  So not getting this project done is literally costing me money!

Unfortunately, it’s hard for most people to take self-imposed limitations seriously.  We know they’re not “real,” so it’s easy to ignore them.  To get around that problem, you can use the carrot and stick approach.

For the carrot, promise yourself a reward if you stick to the limitation.  That adds a gaming element to it, too.  For the stick, commit to donating $100 to an organization you’re vehemently against … like the opposite political party.  

If that idea just made you cringe, you found yourself the perfect motivator!


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