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Japanese automakers struggled to survive after World War II.

Everything was stacked against her.

  1. The demand for cars decreased.
  2. Production costs rose.
  3. The war devastated the Japanese economy. The automakers could not get access to capital to finance large contracts.
  4. And finally, Japan is a small island. Land is expensive and they couldn't afford to expand their camps.

Cash was a limitation.
Space was a limitation.

They had to find a solution that would bypass their limits.

Toyota has a solution called "Just in time"Manufacturing.

Typically, automakers forecast how many cars will be in demand, manufacture them, and then store them in warehouses until they are ordered.

Unfortunately, Toyota didn't have the money to buy large amounts of inventory, and they didn't have the storage space to store them.

Their new strategy was to build everything as needed.

Production began exactly when the cars were ordered, manufactured within a few days and then shipped. Everything was done "just in time".

Cash and space were constraints, but those constraints forced them to come up with better and more creative solutions.

Toyota would have died if they tried to compete using the same strategies as American companies.

We hate compulsions.

How often have you asked for more resources? If you had more time, money, and options, what could you do?

I realized that we all actually have too many optionsand it affects our performance. Too many decisions created a fear of making the wrong decisions.

This leads to analysis paralysis. It's called the paradox of choice.

Rather than looking at limitations as limiting your growth, I want you to take a look at these Limits of limits.

In fact, I'm starting to add more restrictions to my life on purpose.

Limitations force you to be more creative. You begin to improve your problem-solving skills.

In this article, I'm going to tell different stories about how people have used constraints to improve their performance.

I'm also going to share some practical ideas on how to apply constraints in your own life.

You will see that less is more and that you already have all the resources you need.

Photo Credit: Snapwire via

Using Restrictions to Improve Yourself in Brazilian Jiujitsu

A few years ago I watched a video of how a black belt in Jiujitsu, Brazil, improved.

It should be simple: you follow your trainer's instructions and train hard with other black belts.

But he no longer had these options. He just started a new BJJ academy and didn't have a trainer. A new school meant no partners at the black belt level.

He had to think creatively about how to improve.

If he could only do 100% full performance on his new students, it would be like hitting a video game in easy mode over and over again.

His solution was to make each role more difficult by adding constraints.

Some ideas include:

  • Usually you start every sparring round in a neutral position. He would start each round in a disadvantaged situation.
  • He would let his opponent work his best moves on him, AKA, he would let her use her A game.
  • He would do "marathon rolls". He would take on other people round after round without pausing while they came freshly in.
  • No hands. He practiced his defensive skills by doing jiujitsu with just his legs.

By creating these situations, his jiujitsu actually improved. They forced him to work on his weaknesses and develop a more rounded game.

Photo by Janko Ferlic from

How I Used Restrictions to Learn Affiliate Marketing

Every beginner in marketing faces the same problem: Information overload. There is no shortage of choices when it comes to business models, traffic sources and campaigns.

I was upset at how few options I had at the time. In retrospect, these limitations have focused me on the laser.

First, I only knew two business models at the time. I could either do affiliate marketing or SEO.

I didn't know how to code.
YouTube hardly existed back then.
The barriers to e-commerce were high.

Choosing affiliate marketing was easy. Doing SEO meant all of my balls were in the Google basket.

Second, I had a natural limitation on my traffic source. My day job was at an agency. I spent several hours a day on Google AdWords so it made sense to stick with AdWords.

Then my Google Adwords account was blocked. Facebook will of course be my next option.

Another limitation was my $ 500 monthly budget. I hated it and wish I had more budget to work with.

But this smaller budget overcompensated for me. I did market research and went through the market funnels. I asked the affiliate managers for any information they knew about the offer.

Every dollar mattered.

I couldn't afford to outsource. I had to learn the basics of programming and creating images myself.

Finally, my limited budget meant I couldn't do as many split tests. Each week I focused on part of the campaign. One week I shared test headings, another week I shared test images.

These limitations meant that I had to master every part of the split test.

The most important thing in affiliate marketing is Start.

Facebook groups are not updated all day.
It does not join any other private forum.

Campaigns are started again and again. Because of the limitations I had, I did not waste time on the bright shiny objects syndrome.

I focused on starting and testing.

Limitations can turn your designs into icons

I'm a fan of the angel investor Naval Ravikant.

Last year, he started sharing some of his more famous quotes in visual form on Twitter. I did more research on the designer behind Visual Value and some of his philosophies.

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One thing that struck me is how much Jack accepts restrictions. Each of his images has the following limitations:

  • They are always in black on white
  • They always use the same font
  • They always use a geometric shape.

How did these limitations help him?

First, his designs are iconic. I know Jack's designs when I see them on Twitter. It's like we know if a painting is from Piccaso, even if we've never seen it before.

Next, he's consistent. He creates a new design every day, sometimes up to four a day.

He doesn't waste decision-making energy thinking about which colors or fonts to use. If you go for simplicity, he won't have to spend time learning the latest Photoshop software.

Because of the limitations, he can focus on communicating ideas and extreme results.

How to apply restrictions in your life

I am always learning how to improve with different skills. This is how I use restrictions.

1. Photography. I only take photos with an iPhone and take photos of food. With just one iPhone, I don't waste time choosing tools. Eating is an easy way to remind myself to shoot. The only โ€œleverโ€ I can use to improve my photos is the lighting.

While I've limited my leeway, I'll be an overall better photographer in any situation.

2. Write. I can be verbose with my articles. I add a word count limit to my posts. This word count forces me to communicate my ideas more clearly and become a better writer.

3. Companies. I am currently exploring different companies. I give everyone a low five-figure budget.

A smaller budget means I have to be more strategic. I have to use Lean Startup methods to validate my ideas. My limitations force me to do thorough market and customer research.

Remove to improve

Unlimited choices can lead to analysis paralysis.

Don't see limitations as limiting, but as a tool to improve your performance.

In which area of โ€‹โ€‹your life can you add restrictions?

Featured photo by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels.

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