The power of restriction of Dr. Seuss


In 1955 Dr. Seuss (his real name was Theo Geisel) received a challenge: to write and illustrate a book that would not bore the children learning to read. So in 1957, Dr. Seuss produced “The Cat in the Hat” that was written with only 236 different words. This book was a great success among the children, as it was entertaining and educational at the same time.

In 1969, Bennet Cerf, the founder of Random House, met with Theo Geisel and made him a bet, that he write a book for children using only 50 different words. Geiser, of course, won the bet, as he wrote and illustrated the book called Green Eggs and Ham, a book that sold millions. Dr. Seuss took the restriction of the 50 words and turned it into a great opportunity.

The lesson here is that limitations can be transformed into possibilities. Many have the idea that “more is best” when many times “less is best” if we can discover the potential of the limiting situation.

How many discoveries were made thanks to the limitations! In the midst of restrictions creativity can be found. Toys for children, inventions, scientific discoveries, music, books, poetry, painting, projects… started with restrictions. Many of these inventors had serious illnesses, poverty, economical disasters, and obstacles. Yet today we enjoy so much of these because of people who created under circumstances of restriction.

What lessons can we learn from the power of restriction, the power of limits and restraints?

Limits can take us to find the “needle in the haystack”.

Restrictions can help you find that which in abundance you would not be able to discover. There are opportunities within your limitation, your restriction. Do the best with what you have in hand. Improve the talents you already have. Go beyond your circumstances. Instead of complaining of your lack of money, of the situation in which you are at the present today, find the hidden opportunity. Focus on your potential.

As a child, Dr. Seuss would go to the zoo with pencil and paper to draw the animals. As a child the seeds of creativity were being planted in his life. Dr. Seuss’ first book was published in 1937 (and had previously been rejected 27 times). This is an example of his perseverance. He did not give up. Years later, using only 50 words, Dr. Seuss revolutionized the world of reading for children with his unique artwork and words.

What are you going to invent and produce with what you have in hand today, even with your restrictions?

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