Posts tagged humility
I Don't Know, But I'm Willing to Learn.
Book Cocktail – How To Think + Awareness

Book Cocktail – How To Think + Awareness

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.

Enjoy,

D.J.


Awareness by Anthony De Mello 

"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.”

How to Think by Alan Jacobs

"The fundamental problem is the orientation of the will: we suffer from a settled determination to avoid thinking. Relatively few people want to think.”

Bonus Links

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.

Ep. 298 - Fordlandia
Ep. 296 - Bijlmer (City of the Future, Part 1)
Ep. 297 - Blood, Sweat & Tears (City of the Future, Part 2)

 

Thanks to Austin Kleon for promoting How to Think, Father Bob Ross for recommending Awareness, and Megan for proofreading and encouragement. 

Curiosity Didn't Kill The Cat
Mandy Smith in the Oratory at Grailville on Monday.

Mandy Smith in the Oratory at Grailville on Monday.

 

This week I was confronted with how much I don't know— and it's not the first time this has happened. A feeling of weakness usually follows. To avoid that feeling I try to do and learn things to compensate for my sense of inadequacy. And that's never enough. 

But in a moment of clarity, I realized that there's a better perspective; an option that's less confrontational and more hopeful.

The less I know, the more curious I can be. 

Consider the example of a conversation. With a perspective of abundant curiosity, I am more likely to listen and ask questions. Alternatively, with an attitude of scarcity (or overconfidence), I’ll either become reticent or overcompensate by sharing information and giving advice that’s not valuable to the listener (or me).

Through these thoughts, I’ve had the realization that the world doesn’t need another white male with all of the answers. What’s more valuable is someone who’s curious and humbly accepts their limitations. That's my intention as I continue to write this blog.

You may be wondering what killed the cat?

Maybe it's overconfidence, not curiosity, that killed the cat.

Most of the links below reflect my curious intention for the week. It’s odd how when you think of a word it often shows up in elsewhere. For instance, The CreativeMornings global theme for February is curiosity. Don’t forget to sign up for the Cincinnati event this coming Monday. Tickets go fast.

Enjoy,

D.J. 


A Morning With Mr. Schickel
Here’s an artist who wasn’t confined to his medium and let his curiosity transport him from the design of stained glass windows to building church structures that supported those first visual portals. 

Josh Clark, The Era of the Algorithm, CreativeMornings|NYC
Josh shares how machines have an overconfidence issue, which is often a reflection of their creators. He suggests that as designers we become more mindful of the self-importance we project into the tech we create. He calls for “systems that are smart enough to know that they’re not smart enough.”  

Hurry Slowly, Episode 017: Bill Duggan You Can’t Rush Aha Moments
I like the idea that we can only create out of what’s in our memory. Instead of laboring to force a solution, perhaps it’s best to step back and learn. Become curious. It reminds me of a line from Pachinko: 

“’Just study,” Hansu has said. ‘Learn everything. Fill your mind with knowledge—it’s the only kind of power no one can take from you.” Hansu never told him to study, but rather to learn, and it occurred to Not that there was a marked difference. Learning was like playing, not labor.” 

How Jason Kottke is thinking about kottke.org at 20
Chris introduced me to Kottke.org. It's one of the longest-running blogs on the Internet. I go there pretty much daily and find many delightful and thought-provoking perceptions. Reading this interview makes me wish I were involved in the internet’s early days.* At least I get still get to enjoy the curious mind of Jason Kottke and all that he generously shares each day.

*I'd like to write about this more.

Marionettes episode of 'The Crown'
Easily my favorite episode of The Crown so far. It portrays how to be genuinely useful in protest. In this case, it came down to humility and deep respect for the crown. For more on this type of protest, check out the Generous Orthodoxy episode of Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History podcast.

Buddhist monks on the value of video games
I’ve quoted this article a dozen times this week. For me, it’s a reminder to forget the carrot at the end of the stick. Be present at the moment whether that’s a video game or meditation session. 

The advantages of organizing knowledge in terms of country and place 
I wish I had a physical space where I could hold clippings and curiosities in designated spots. For now, I have Moleskines, Evernote, Dropbox, and this blog. 

Fine Amnesty Day 
I owe the Cincinnati Library $1.20. Not for long. Thanks to sharing Meg. 

 

Kudos to Tyler, Chris, Jocelyn, Meg, and Mandy on tips on this weeks links.