The Power in Constraint

When was the last time you felt stuck? Constrained either by circumstance or maybe just an unwillingness to get out of your own way. I’ve certainly been there. And at various points I almost gave into the urge to give up, relinquish hope and sink comfortably into that life I always promised myself I would never live.


Many people tragically, stay stuck. They do the same thing over and over expecting a different result. And eventually they even give up on expecting. Before you know it, months, years and decades go by and you’re left with a life of total resignation from what could have been.

But for others, constraints can manifest creativity & growth. And in limitations we discover not only an opportunity to overcome, but to re-invent, often times beyond what we could have ever imagined as our more comfortable selves. It was in a particularly long period of immobility that I began to re-think what was most important to me. I slowly, began taking risks (the responsible variety in this case), exploring new ideas for what I wanted to become and eventually piecing together a roadmap for my own re-invention.

Getting there is the rough part. The process itself can be painful, frustrating and with no visible end in sight. But let’s face it, when things are good, easy and seemingly laid out before us, evolving is the last thing on our minds. Limitations and setbacks keep us on our toes, force us into thinking into the beyond, the unknown and the impossible. There’s a forced sense of clarity that comes with not knowing what the hell you’re gonna do next. 

Innovation works in the same way. With individual problems come solutions for the greater good. Suddenly there’s a set of equations that need solving. A new necessity that begs to be invented. Enough parameters to turn aimless creativity into real answers.

Businesses still clinging to old models and a perceived sense of control are finding themselves stuck in their own existential paralysis. The smart ones are investing in innovation from within, committed to a process that by it’s nature is uncomfortable and vague. Enduring any evolution is hard, but particularly in a real time age. It requires us to find opportunity inside of what on the surface, appears to us as one big ball of blockage. 

Be it in business or life, getting unstuck is a strange and uniquely personal journey. It means finding a balance of letting go and getting strategic. A willingness to explore the unfamiliar and patiently test and learn. But it’s within these constraints that a rare opportunity presents itself to discover the otherwise implausible. And ultimately, what’s more freeing than that?

Image Credit: The brilliant Hugh MacLeod

Laura CiociaComment