In praise of constraints

A mountain road winding between snowed-over trees.

Photo by Kimon Maritz on Unsplash

It is so much easier to work within a constraint. It doesn’t matter if it is a pattern for a scarf you’re knitting, a product spec for the software you’re building, or a prompt for the piece you’re writing.

I’ve heard the confused argument that, since autonomy is one of the core components of motivation, the fewer constraints you give your team or your employees, the better. That is, of course, bullshit.

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Photo by Alexander Possingham on Unsplash During the first couple of years of my career, I was preoccupied with “doing enough work”. I was afraid that if I didn’t produce working code fast enough, I would be found to be insufficient, lacking “what it takes” or, worse, lazy. I would come to the office on Saturdays and Sundays to put in some extra hours. It felt good.

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On Love

A neon light in the shape of a heart

Photo by Connor Wells on Unsplash

I’ve been asked to define “Love”. To compare it to an essay. But I do not think this comparison fits.

When I hear “essay” I think of something intellectual, well though-out, planned. Perhaps over-thought or maybe even over-wrought. Brainy. Something my mom would be proud of.

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Book notes: The Power

Cover of The Power (Naomi Alderman, 2017)

The Power (Naomi Alderman, 2017) was not an easy read. It contains staggering violence, inhuman misogyny and misandry, unbearable suffering and loss. It did not end on a happy note. And yet, this novel sank its teeth in me and dragged me all the way to the last page almost against my will — I just couldn’t look away.

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Throw More Pots

A bunch of ceramic pots. Image by johannatherealtor on Pixabay.

A bunch of pots

I’m a striver. I strive to be a better knitter, a better cat herder, a better writer, a better engineer, and a better human (among other things). I’m into setting goals, making lists, and practicing rituals for reflection, revision, and planning. (Hey, I never said I was fun.)

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Author's picture

Ana Ulin

Working to be a better human every day. Steward of engineering teams. I see you.