Embracing constraints

Embed from Getty Images


I’ve always thought constraints were negative. After all, they tend to speak lack. A constraint can feel like a roadblock to progress. A reason to stop, to chuck the towel in.

In Whitney Johnson’s podcast episode titled, Embracing Constraints, she talks about how constraints can actually help us. They can be a catalyst for doing better, more creative work.

To change our perspective on constraints, she recommends reframing how we speak to them. Instead of saying “I can’t because…”,
try saying “I can, if…”

In the podcast, Whitney shared this wonderful story.

“In 1954, an editor at Houghton Mifflin read the now-famous article “Why Johnny Can’t Read”, concerned, he challenged one of his friends: “Take 225 unique words every six-year-old knows and “write me a story they can’t put down.” It took a year and a half and at one point, he was so discouraged, he almost gave up. But when Theodore Geissel published The Cat in the Hat in 1957, it was an instant hit.”

What’s your constraint?

Is it …
not enough time,
not enough space
or feeling closed in by too many rules?
Is it a lack of perceived talent,
not enough buy-in
or perhaps it’s feeling insecure or shy?

How would reframing that constraint change your next move?


5 thoughts on “Embracing constraints

  1. Pingback: Rookie Smarts
  2. Hello Jacqueline,
    I have missed seeing you around. Hope you and your loved ones are well.

    My constraints are based on fear. Fear that I may not have enough time left in life to fulfil my dreams, Fear of history repeating itself, fear of not being able to shake free of a negative history, and fear of success and the added burden or responsibility it could bring.

    Loved the theme of this post. Thank you for sharing.


    1. Hi Carol – thank you so much for reaching out. And yah – so lovely to put a face to the name – love your photo and your beautiful smile! Your comments have reminded me that my intention was to post once a week yet, since lock-down that has gone out the window. I need to start writing again… Ironically, my constraint is time or is it?

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s