I intended to write a post dedicated to how much I cringe when designers use the "E" word (empathy) and argue that what we designers really need is humility. Then, this week, I was humbled and rethought my approach. Instead, I’ll talk about what I learned from being humbled.
I started this week coming off of a fantastic conference where was I made aware of the many blind spots in my personal perceptions. While that should have been a humbling experience, and it was to an extent, I felt enlightened. In my mind, I was above others with my newly found awakening (hello ego). It was from that position that I found myself in the middle of a conversation defending a stance that I didn’t have much ground to support. Upon reflection, I was forced to confront the fact that I wasn’t an expert on the topic, but most importantly, that I didn’t possess the humility to learn from my fellow conversationalists.
And that’s when I rethought my approach to this post. Who am I to protest against the "E" word and promote humility when I’m the opposite of humble on any given day. Pretty arrogant, right?
So, I’ll use this opportunity to remind myself this: practice the art of saying and living out, “I don’t know, but I’m willing to learn."
Those words, “I don’t know, but I’m willing to learn,” imagined in the context of design are refreshing:
“I don’t know if this logo makes sense, but I’m willing to show it to several people.”
“I don’t know if this is the best answer, but I’m willing to do the research.”
“I don’t know if this comes across bias, but I will ask.”
“I don’t know you or much about your culture, but I’d love to spend time with you.”
“I don’t know if the website flows well, but I’ll share it with people to see how it works.”
“I don’t know if have the best lens for this problem, but I’m willing to collaborate.”
“I don’t know anything about this subject, but I have a library card.”
With that, I’ll leave you with the weekly links. I haven’t consumed much online information this week, but I’m in the middle of two excellent books that have paired well together (a “book cocktail,” as I like to call it) and influenced my learning this week.
"And so in order to wake up, one thing you need the most is not energy, or strength, or youthfulness, or even great intelligence. The one thing you need most of all is the readiness to learn something new.”
"The fundamental problem is the orientation of the will: we suffer from a settled determination to avoid thinking. Relatively few people want to think.”
Meg and I were in the car, traveling south, this weekend and caught up on several hours of podcasts.
The following three 99 Percent Invisible episodes on how arrogance–an overdose of confidence or the opposite of humility–can drive designers to make bad decisions that have detrimental effects on the people they hope to help.
Thanks to Austin Kleon for promoting How to Think, Father Bob Ross for recommending Awareness, and Megan for proofreading and encouragement.