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The Power of Positive Constraints

lee-lefever-autographIn his CreativeMornings presentation in Seattle this morning, Lee LeFever, founder of Common Craft and author of The Art of Explanation, broached the subject of constraints.   Constraints generally have a negative connotation.  For champions of free thinking and unbridled creativity, constraints appear to be the things holding you back, the things keeping your imagination in check.  But constraints can also be incredibly liberating.  In the context of Lee LeFever’s presentation, this set of constraints helped to shape the direction of his company and its product.  But what if we apply this same process to our day-to-day lives?
It is okay to make your happiness a priority.  And sometimes, this means saying, “No.”  A set of constraints can be a set of rules to live by.  It can be a set of goals and values.  Defining what will make you happy allows you to say, “No” to the things that will diminish that happiness.  It’s not about holding yourself back, it’s about having a set of guidelines to create accountability, a set of guidelines that will directly contribute to your happiness.  Happiness is made up of a series of choices, of thousands of micro decisions over time.  In creating positive constraints, you can create freedom.  You develop the power to say, “No.”  You optimize for happiness.


  • Peter Chee

    June 13, 2014

    Great blog post Kate! I enjoyed hearing Lee’s entrepreneurial journey in how he and Sashi created Common Craft. It was great to her comments too. They definitely have a set a constraints that they have built their company around which directly lead to high level of happiness and fulfillment.

    • Kate Bailes

      June 17, 2014

      Thanks, Peter! Lee and Sashi are very conscious of what kind of company they want to have and what products they want to create, and this has made them incredibly happy. And I agree, hearing Sashi’s feedback was great!

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