The other day I was driving behind a truck.  Stamped in the metal back of the truck were five letters, something like VEREX.  My attention was caught by the “R.”


It had a couple of notches on the left and right sides of the top-half of the R.  Kind of like the ones in this picture of the letter B: 


In fact, if you look, you’ll see some attractive lines that help deliniate all three of the letters in the picture.  


I found myself wondering, why were those notches there on the “R?”  They do make the design of the word more appealing.  But did they have to be there?


The notches lead to the “holes” inside the letters, the holes which on a stamped letter are actually solid pieces.  Those notches connect the “holes” to the rest of the metal plate.  Without them, the little “holes” would fall down!


The lines are a result of a necessary component of the design.  They have to be there.  And they happen to look interesting.  


Sometimes limits create opportunities for better results.  Things that seem to be a curtailment of your choices may result in something better than what you would have originally created.  You can see this everywhere.


Architecture is full of these limitations, especially the older buildings, those massive stone structures from the 18th and 19th centuries.  Architects and masons had to design them in particular ways so that the structures could support their own weight.  Arched windows, borders, brick patterns, all of these things are both necessary and result in something pretty to look at.


In the world of sound, people who really know how to write for the orchestra create different music than people who just piece together orchestral sounds from a keyboard.  Each of those instruments have limitations that must be respected for the piece to be playable.  What’s amazing is that, when you respect the limits of the instruments, even using synthesized versions of them, you end up with music that sounds better.


Limitation is also the magic behind our favorite music albums.  They were collaborations between extraordinary people who had to make real compromises with one another, sometimes against their will.  They were always up against the clock, and under a budget, and henpecked by corporations that had completely different ideas about what the band should be doing on this latest record.


I care about this because I am always bemoaning my own limitations.  I wish I could write better, orchestrate more fluidly, draw like Rembrandt.  Yet, in the end, my limitations, and what I do to get around them, produce a result that is compelling in a unique way.


I wonder if this is a comfort to you.  As you deal with the limitations life, work and family have placed upon you, things that prevent you from doing “what you want,” do you consider that so many good things in your life have come as a result of having to overcome these obstacles?  Does that empower you to go further with what you have, and with what you have to do?

***Innovative News***

The tentative release date for our album is July 2!  Watch for more information at this space.  Also, check my "Press" tab to see my recommendation for's books that team leaders should read.  

Adam Cole is an author, educator and performer who blogs weekly on the subject of listening, creativity and artistry.  He is the director of Innovative Approaches to Music, a comprehensive look at the benefits of music learning.  To take a quiz on what kind of music warrior you are, please visit

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