U2's Lost Lyrics

U2's Lost Lyrics

In 1981, Bono, Larry, Adam and Edge were preparing for a much anticipated 2nd studio album...

'October’ saw the band rising not only to the usual challenges of proving that you’re more than a one-album wonder, but to the specific pressure of creating new work as the clock ticked ever louder. When Bono’s initial lyrics for the new songs were lost, he had to rewrite them in the studio at Windmill, with producer Steve Lillywhite poised to press record. [source]

Setting deadlines and forcing yourself and your team to treat them as do or die enhances your creativity like a genius on LSD. When Bono lost the lyrics to an entire album's worth of songs, he was forced to create and fast.

When it comes to creativity, restraints harnessed are accelerators to creativity.

It's inherent in the developing world if harnessed properly. When there's no fuel for sale in the nation, how do you get fuel? You befriend the man who has fuel in 50 gallon drums and swap him cigarettes for fuel. Addictions are always pricey.

Examples of restraints on creativity:

  • No Money
  • Limited time
  • Not enough skills
  • Not the right people on the team
  • Not my ideal situation

Harnessing this:

  • Bootstrapping—what is the minimum dose of effectiveness (MDoE) that can take us from Point A to Point B?
  • Forcing results within time constraints and then shipping your iteration. This requires intensity, working on the ultimate in importance, and effective prioritizing (see MDoE).
  • Fun teams—the more fun you have, the more you want to push the limits.
  • Set goals then celebrate.

Bono locked himself in a room and wrote lyrics. He ended up writing one of the most legendary albums of rock n’ roll (Gloria, Tomorrow, Fire).

How does your team view deadlines? Do you even have them? With our teams, our goal is to create an internal culture that hates missing deadlines, loves the constraints they present, and encourages each other to go above and beyond what they personally thought possible on each assignment.

It's hard to set deadlines on yourself, but when you have a producer sitting there ready to press record on your new lyrics, your brain forces the ultimate creativity to come out. It's a matter of survival. If you can harness this on your next project, the limits are merely what you make them.

If it happened to U2, it can happen to you too. Two lessons to learn, back up your files and use restraints to pump your creativity with steroids.

Now for a great U2 music video:

Click here if you can't see the video above.

(photo via robert hensley)