Marcus Aurelius

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
— Marcus Aurelius

A quick followup about creative freedom through constraints, courtesy of the great stoic philosopher and, as Wikipedia alleges, the fifth of the Five Good Emperors. (Extra credit, extra fun: the term Five Good Emperors was coined by non other than political philosopher Machiavelli in 1503.)

In design, the refrain when confronted with challenges goes something like, It’s part of the process. That sounds like condolence, but it should be motivation; I try to expect challenges, and on good days I orient myself to look for the constraints and find solutions therein. Aurelius would tell us our approach to everything in life should follow suit, that every obstacle is an opportunity to practice a virtue, to grow, to succeed not in spite of, but because of adversity.

I may be reaching, but it calls to mind the precept of another ancient teacher, something about all things working together for good.

“Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things.”

— Epictetus

“Everything that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.”

— Marcus Aurelius

Originally published at on August 18, 2015.