Amazing! This was the reaction Team Cucumber had at the end of the two-day Design/Content conference put together by some of the brightest creative minds in Vancouver. The organizers did an amazing job selecting the speakers and providing a good balance between research and inspiration. We will be following up with some interesting design research and facts blog post shortly – but for now, here’s some collateral wisdom for you to ponder upon first.
Put your ego aside
It may sound simplistic and maybe even a bit cliche, but this is one of the biggest reasons why we designers and marketers get ourselves in trouble. It’s when we take our work too personally and get attached to what we do way too much. Seriously, who hasn’t done that? I know I have. At some point I actually thought it was a good thing – my work was my baby. But then, over time I ended up with so many “babies” in my hands, I couldn’t properly take care of them all any longer. And that’s not a good thing.
So this is my personal interpretation of this principle: a good way to check if you are creating from your ego and not from your heart, is when you worry about your concept being accepted and liked by your client/your team, more than you worry whether this is the right solution for the end user of your product. Always (and it really means always) stay open-minded in your design work when presenting your concepts to the team or the client, and know that it’s never about you (and I mean it – never).
Don’t forget to breathe
You know the concept of a “creative block” – I truly believe it doesn’t exist. The moment when you stop feeling creative or frustrated with the process of creating, what really happened is that you simply got disconnected from your main “why”– from the main reason why you were doing what you were doing, and where you were heading.
Remember – it’s ok to pause and to breathe.
What do you do when you are lost in the woods? You stop. You don’t panic. You look at the map. You try to think clearly. Same with creative work. If you feel like you are not going anywhere – stop! Stop thinking and start breathing. Your creative juices will come back to you, the moment you do that. Works like a charm. Every time.
I really loved this reminder, as we ourselves here at Cucumber, made it a habit to meditate as a team in the morning. Some people might still think it’s weird, some people think it’s a waste of time, as we need to focus on strategies and our to-do lists instead of focusing on the body, heart, mind connection. But guess what – the moment you connect the three – the creative block goes away, you feel better about yourself and you like people around you more. And that’s a helpful thing.
Naturally, it takes practice to be able to find that “happy place” in the midst of the deadlines and strict project requirements, and this is exactly why it’s so amazing to have this conversation going at an industry conference! Because it’s as important as the actual strategy itself. Maybe even more important, actually.
Last but not least – really, truly make sure that you serve your customers with your design. Don’t make it your day-job (or your “passion” for that matter. Remember? It’s not about you). Don’t think that your boss, your work environment or your colleagues are in control of what you create. You are! When you change the narrative from “doing design” to seeing your work as something that has the power to make someone’s life better.
I guess at the end of the day it all boils down to being a good human – and that’s not only when you are kind with your grandma or your kids, it’s when you keep your cool in every aspect of your life, and know – what you do matters. Do it well.