Living Without Limits

One of the best books I’ve read this year is Tina Seelig’s What I Wish I Knew I When I Was 2 Though I read it three years late the book challenged me to change the way I view the world.

Tina Seelig begins by recounting an assignment she gave to her students at Stanford University. The students were organised into teams and then given envelopes with five dollars and two hours to make as much money as possible. They teams had a couple of days to plan but once they opened the envelope they had only two hours to bring in as much cash as they could.

The most successful students, Seeelig says, are those who realised that “focusing on the money actually framed the problem way too tightly. They understood that five dollars is essentially nothing and decided to reinterpret the problem more broadly: What can we do to make money if we start with absolutely nothing?…”

I realised then that we often place on ourselves constraints which limit us – like education and money. Removing these blinders allows us to see the world differently, and approach challenges with a different mindset.

It may go against common sense but the person without any money could actually be better off than someone with a small amount such as $5. The guy with nothing has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Similarly, the educated person is often too rigid and too committed to “the right ways” and also has too much to lose. However in life, unlike in school, there is never a single answer or “the right way”.

Looking at the world from a “detached” point often reveals countless opportunities. To live differently, we must challenge conventional wisdom.