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In and out of the box

There's something paradoxical about poetry: the rigid structures of such classical formats as sonnet, haiku, even lymeric, seem to inhibit the free-flowing creativity most often associated with verse.

Don’t they?

In his book Imagine, Jonah Lehrer argues that too much freedom granted by too little structure may actually impair our imaginations, allowing them to run wild and lose focus. Through strict adherence to the rules governing the arrangement of words, the poet has to search harder, compose with more deliberation, and prod his imaginative abilities to find the perfect word that fits the limiting space.

In other words, less freedom inspires greater creativity.

Whether in artistry or in business, when we’re forced to work within the confines of structure, we can end up producing dazzling explosions of innovative genius. Jonah Lehrer sums it up this way: we break out of the box by stepping into shackles.

And even if you’re not a poet, the same principle applies in every aspect of your life.

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