The Myth of Options

Brian Eno has produced and composed music ranging from U2 and Coldplay to the opening tunes for the London Olympic games. The man works with huge budgets, top grade studios, outstanding talent, and access to any type of instrument you might desire. And yet.....

Fence_a3The first thing he asks of those who step into the studio with him is, "What are our limitations?"

This isn't an existential question, or even a question of abilities, but rather, What limitations are we going to impose on ourselves?

Have you seen an episode of Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares recently? The second most repeated action he takes (trailing close behind his affinity for the F-bomb)  is carving down a monstrosity of a menu to a handful of items. Every. Single. Time.

Or another example. The first time I went to Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago, world leaders in high end specialty coffee, you'd think they'd offer varieties and preparation methods coating an entire wall. Nope. Three choices done well, all via pour over. Both of my visits have been very rewarding.

And not to suggest my abilities are even close to any of those mentioned above, but this site has it's own boundaries. If you'd take the time to check you would find find that practically all (with rare exception) of these posts are less than 500 words. Since I imposed that limit on myself several months ago, I would argue that both my thoughtfulness and aesthetic improved significantly.

It's easy to assume that more options means better outcome, and yet so many artisans at the top of their game offer clear limits from the beginning.