Compression and release: life lessons from architecture

Posted by on October 25, 2021

Compression and release: life lessons from architecture
Small, dark hall and low doorway…

I had the opportunity this month to visit Taliesin West: visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Arizona winter home and school.

One of the things I got to experience on the tour was Wright’s use of “compression and release.” He would force a visitor through a small, tight entry space (the compression) before the person would pass into a larger space – and a feeling of freedom (the release).

I think life is like that, too. We go through new challenges that provide us with growth spurts. When we learn the difficult lesson that is in front of us, we often find new confidence and the release of leveling up in our lives and careers.

Growth can be tough and even painful. And sometimes it feels like multiple lessons are piled on us at once. (I know I have muttered an old Oprah prayer on occasion, “Lord, please don’t teach me anything new today.”)

Into the release of this amazing space!

But the real trick, I think, is to not avoid the challenge. The lesson may be hard, but it can be even more painful to remain small. It’s like the Anais Nin quote, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

The best we can hope for is that life serves us up right-sized lessons/compressions at a pace that isn’t overwhelming. And as we meet these challenges and grow, we are released into even better phases of life and work.

Where have you experienced compression and release in your life or career? Have you met those challenges – or tried to avoid them?

Here’s to your growth!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at