“Look again at that dot [Earth]. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”
― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
I love this quote and the tremendous depth it gives us in understanding where we stand in this infinity of time and the vastness of the universe. It’s amazing to think in this perspective, especially now in this pandemic when many of us have more time for contemplation and “looking out the window”. Right now, it seems that our Pale Blue Dot is “closed for repairs”. The entire globe to one degree or another has been on lockdown for months. Some people contend that this period is a waste of time, but we can also look at these months as an opportunity for reflection. One of the primary pain points our society experiences is lack of time. As I like to say: Time is currency. In the design world, many times we design products across categories based on the user need for more efficient use of time. And now, in this lockdown, we have time – or at least a bit more of it! We get to reflect on many things and dig deep in our minds. I believe that the way we use this time will become even better as we go forward, especially when we focus on a few key tips:
We Have Time to Design our Goals
We’ve been in this lockdown state for months now, and we’re seeing that it will still continue for at least a few months more. Eventually, we will come out of this though. So why don’t we use this time and come out of it not with a beard and a doughnut in our hand, but with our lives changed!
Now we have the time to tackle that art piece we’ve been wanting to create, or develop the talents we’ve been wanting to build, or read the books we want to read, or finally conquer our fitness or weight loss goals. The thing is – whatever you’ve chosen to pursue during this time, you just have to emerge from these months victorious!
I’m no personal trainer, but a couple years back, I lost 47 pounds. People often ask me how I did it, and I happily share what I’ve learned with anyone who wants to know. The main thing I ask in those conversations is “what is it that’s stopping you from jumping on the fitness bandwagon and conquering your goals”? The overwhelming response is always “lack of time”. Now, though, that excuse is gone. Whether your fitness goal is strength, or weight loss, or agility, or whatever YOU want to achieve for yourself – if you don’t emerge from this time victorious in your goals, I want to encourage you to ask yourself: Am I being just plain lazy? Is it possible that these goals are not actually true priorities for me? If either of these are the case, no amount of coaxing, motivation, or inspiration is going to move you. Now is the time. If you want to achieve something, it IS possible for you – perhaps now more than ever! Work on it meticulously and systematically. Discipline is what will help us make use of this time. Let’s seize the day and not get lazy!
1. Find Your Own Ideal User Experience or “Constellation”
When I said that you should achieve whatever YOU want to achieve, what I mean is it must be your goals. This is an idea that’s applicable on a personal level, or for your business, or for your product. You have to find your own constellation.What I mean by that is there are millions of stars in the galaxy. These stars can represent all the different dreams, wants, and desires of people. In this vast galaxy of options and opportunities, you must figure out which of these “stars” or desires you or your company or product wants to solve for and map out your own constellation. Just because another company has chosen this or that constellation doesn’t mean that you should. Just because you see your friend has lost 50 pounds and you want to do that too just because they have – that’s not the right motivation to have. You should copy a successful company or friend’s behavior that allows them to achieve their goals, not necessarily the goal itself. Copying can only go so far. You have to decide on your own goals based on where you are, your current state and ideal state or ideal user experience that you want to create. Then you can chart it out and set off, adjusting as needed and as new horizons open up to you on your journey.
2. Focus on your Strengths
There’s an amazing book called “Soar With Your Strengths” by Donald Clifton and Paula Nelson. It begins with a parable about a mother and father rabbit and their bunny who’s about to start school. On the first day of school, he gets there with all the other animals – monkeys, elephants, dogs, fish etc – and the activity that day is a foot race. Of course, the bunny excels and comes in first place. When he gets home, he’s excited and tells his parents, “it was the best! I love it! I want to go to school!” The next day however, he comes home forlorn. The next day is the same and the next. His parents are baffled and at the first parent teacher meeting, the teacher tells them, “your bunny is really good at running and racing. We don’t need to work on that. What we need to work on is how he’s going to climb trees or swim in a pond.”
This is what happens in our lives sometimes too. Everyone is born with certain strengths and weaknesses. The lesson here is that you need recognize and uncover your strengths. Find the ones that are unique and compelling and capitalize on those. Yes, find mentors, colleagues and friends who can help you work on your weaknesses, but always make sure you focus on your strengths. These are your attributes by which you can have the greatest impact. When we talk about collaboration, it’s always about what unique strengths you bring to the table. Those strengths are the first thing we want to understand when we’re hiring new designers or engineers etc onto our staff. Your strengths are why your team needs you. Your strengths are what makes you sought-after. Your strengths are the best part of you that you can offer to your business, or your community around you.
3. Be Fearless
No – I don’t mean like touching a cobra, or swimming with sharks or wrestling a bear. What I mean is diving deep into the layers and understanding of truth. Be fearless in asking questions, especially in this post COVID19 world. This goes for the goals you want to achieve for yourself, and it also applies in the world of design. You always have to engage in deep and robust design research to achieve your design goals. We do this in our dedicated facility with focus groups where we can control for variables, remove biases, and get down to what’s really going on in the user’s mind, their constraints and patterns of behavior, and how that affects a product or experience. Then once you’ve fearlessly uncovered the realities that affect what you’re trying to achieve, you can translate those into attributes of your product or experience or service (in the design world) and into your own personal results in your life.
These three ideas will help each of us, as designers and creative individuals, to not get lost in these fraught times, but emerge stronger as companies, businesses, and people.
Got a million-dollar idea you want to talk to us about? Want to discuss how you can take advantage of design thinking in this time to fuel your business growth? Or just want to talk shop about design and innovation?
Drop us a note at email@example.com !
Principal, and Director of Strategic Growth
Jeevak, Principal and Director of Strategic Growth, brings energy, passion & curiosity to his role at Sundberg-Ferar. With his unique blend of education and experience in industrial design, engineering and business, he is a rallying voice for the alignment and optimal inclusion of the end user’s un-met needs, and unspoken wants in the core value proposition of a company’s products & service portfolio to generate sought-after shareholder value.