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You know the feeling when you've just finished a big load of intense work? A difficult design, a complex tender set, perhaps an important report or organising a large event? You've worked hard, pushed through the ‘I really don’t feel like doing this part’ and the ‘Oh man, there’s still so much to do.’ You’ve refined and checked the details and finally, it’s d.o.n.e…DONE.
It feels pretty good. You’re tired but also enjoying the heady satisfaction buzz. Shaky breath in, big letting-go breath out.
And then, through whatever intervention or accidental eye-opening, you know you’ve done it wrong. You weigh it up for a moment. Maybe it won’t matter, maybe you can just ignore it. But no, deep down you know that what you now understand better, really matters. And what you’ve just finished, is now either partially or fundamentally flawed. And that’s just not ok.
So what do you do?
Well, obviously, if it’s going to be put out there as your work, a flawed result probably won’t sit well with you, right? So you steel yourself, you check the time and you get down to fixing it.
But what if it’s not something that is immediately obvious as a mistake? Perhaps it’s something to do with how you manage your project, your team or your business. What if the way you’ve done it, is how everyone around you does it? Nobody would raise an eyebrow even though you now know you could actually achieve a better result by changing something. Perhaps you’ll get to it later. Yes, that’s it. You’ll just go with what you have now and soon you’ll figure out how to do things differently…when you have the time and head space. You’ve already worked so hard and there’s so much else to do…really, it’s fine.
And you get on with your next task.
So here’s the thing: I was finishing something the other day which I’d been pouring maximum energy into for quite some time. It’s been coming together nicely, with many late nights, many sacrifices, a fair bit of angst and many little triumphs. After the very last round of looking over how it all fitted together and double-checking the details, it felt absolutely amazing to finally take that last step and hit publish. I let out a big breath, threw my arms in the air and said, “YES!!”…to the cat, since there was no-one else around. In true cat fashion, she couldn’t give a rat’s whisker. But I didn’t care, because what I had been working so hard on, was DONE.
I walked away from my desk, made a cup of tea, grabbed a biccie and plonked myself down on the comfy couch with my Kindle. A bit of well-deserved downtime.
Two minutes later I’m standing wild-eyed in front of my computer, staring at the work I had just completed – work which now obviously contained a massive flaw in my overall approach. A flaw which could quite possibly wreck what I’m trying to achieve. My chest feels hollow as my heart drops into my shoes.
Thank you Sam Horn, your book is truly amazing. Four pages in and your advice hits me like a brick between the eyes. You taught me something that I couldn’t help but understand and relate to - and therefore couldn’t ignore. Which meant that the final outcome of my previous understanding is now not good enough anymore.
Fix it next time around? I don’t think so. I care too much about the intended long term outcome, so…
Deep breath in, steel myself, get back in there and fix it.
It was all awfully confronting. And you know what, I knew while I was fixing it, that I didn’t have all the skills and tools to do it as well as someone with Sam’s experience and understanding could. I might even have made a couple of mistakes she would have pointed out at a glance. Yet I understood the fundamental concept of what she was teaching and as it turned out, that was enough to take a good stab at it and make what I had created, better and more effective. A good step closer to the intended outcome.
How often does it not happen that we learn something which shifts our perspective in an important way, yet we don’t change what we are already doing? We’re busy, we’re leaving it for later, we’re waiting for that magical moment when the stars align and we have all the time, skills and energy to pull it off properly. Except that time never comes.
So my advice? When you learn something that resonates strongly with you and changes your perspective, get in there and take action. Make a start. Maybe it’s career advice, parenting or relationship advice, leadership or business advice. Even if you can’t see the whole road and you don’t know exactly how you will see it through, if you have a new understanding about what you should be doing, MAKE A START.
The amazing thing is that once you start with a worthwhile change, it becomes easy to learn and flow and get better from there. You get in this habit of acting on good advice and a surprising amount of momentum builds, energising those around you and drawing in help from all quarters. You want to talk about collaboration and achievement beyond the stressful hum-drum of business as usual? THAT’s how you do it. Immediate change in the moment of new understanding.
And that’s a pretty cool way to experience life and work.
Yours in Action
And speaking of taking a step up, professional designers, have a look at my current innovation focus under the training tab above.