Constraints Add Color to Your Life

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Last month, I wrote about the topic of constraints (Do You Artificially Constrain Yourself?).  The topic’s not discussed that often, so I was mildly surprised today, when I came across two independent discussions of constraints.  One was by Chris Brogan (Constraints).  A second was by recognized photographer, C. J. Chilvers (www.alesserphotographerbook.com).

jtpedersen_constraints_470Both of their articles, or manifesto in Chilvers’ case, are well-worth your taking the time to read.  Why? Because I think most of us do not take the time to really appreciate the constraints we work with in our lives.

It’s not just the constraints but the lack of constraints in some cases.

Chilvers spends some time talking about how he and a friend ran into two other photographers in the wild, while on a photography hike.  The four of them started talking about the gear they had, the different cameras, the different lenses they had, why they were in love with whichever…only to notice something.  Here they were, four photographers, in the most incredible outdoor photo gallery, pictures ripe for the picking, yet they’re sitting around talking about their gear, their constraints.

Professionally, I know I’ve encountered similar things.  Ever go to a business meeting and, rather than discuss the wonderful opportunities in front of you, you’re in the hallway (or conference room) talking about the ‘process’ mechanics you’re grappling with instead?  Where’s the value in that?

Chris raises a really good point, as does Chilvers, in that simply having constraints can improve your creativity, challenge you to do your best.  In the case of an automatic camera, removing the automation serves to sharpen your focus on getting the picture right, rather than relying on post-processing after the fact.

Allowing our constraints to define ourselves, or the opportunities in front of us, is incredibly common across the spectrum of our lives.  For instance, this weekend, I will be participating in an Iron Butt Association SaddleSore 1000 put on by the MSTA‘s Michigan Chapter.  In short, this is a ride of 1,000 miles to be completed in under 24 hours.

The SaddleSore is a challenge of logistics, timing, and personal tenacity.  Last year, I passed on this event, because my machine at the time was an unfaired, short-wheelbase motorcycle.  It would have done the job, but I felt it really wasn’t the right machine for the task.  This year, I have a (FJR) machine that will be far more comfortable, more capable.  I changed my constraints.

One of my fellow riders this year will be riding a harder-edged (harder than my own bike last year) sport bike.  All of the attendees cringe thinking of his constraints.  But, you know, his sheer tenacity will see him through (along with some ibuprofen). And, he’ll come out with an extra dose of credibility as a result.

What constraints do you set before yourself?  Which constraints in your life, perhaps placed there with intent, make your life more colorful, more rewarding as a result?

Image credits:
Stay On Path
FJR, author