The Importance of Constraints

Like anyone else, I do not like to submit to things that are out of my control. The fact is, we really do not have much control over anything. A hard swallow perhaps, but true. This piece was another exceptional lesson in constraints.

In a previous post, I spoke of motivating employees and working the human condition into over-time. Both of those stories taught me how to deal with the notion that not having any control was something that I could either thwart, creatively, or recognize that the struggle is real and learn how to work with in it.

In a comparison with those two essays and reflecting on other events, control was never a factor, but learning to live with constraints. Constraints are a wonderful thing. They set boundaries, limitations and allow for some critical thinking. Strategizing at its best; working around and through obstacles.



Last spring I ran a workshop for students on graphic design. When I gave a brief idea of how design functions (color, imagery, balance, visual language stuff) I cut them lose to design anything they wanted. Most of the students just stared at the screen. The others played with the software, but with little results. After 15 minutes, I told them that they had to design a social media post that was promoting a chili cook-off. The only requirements were to know where, when, and what to expect when I saw this post as well as being able to visualize myself attending this event. One student was done with-in minutes. Completely nailed it. The others were not too far behind.

Complete and total freedom sounds wonderful, but when there is no direction, there can be a struggle. By the looks on their faces they might have begun to accept the lack of direction was crippling. They had no control over why they couldn’t create. Once they were given guidelines, again out of their control, they were comfortable moving forward.

By no means am I an expert in social science and will not pretend to be. I am simply, taking mental notes and journaling the importance of understanding how I can improve my own processes.