One part of my working life is teaching college students Human Resources. This semester I have five sections of an introductory course. There are learners from all years, but over 75% of the class are first year students in their first semester of college.
In the past, I’ve found it hard to get people in the habit of note-taking. Sometimes students will arrive at class without paper or a pen and other times they’ll open laptops for ‘notes’ but then spend their time surfing sports scores or updating their FB status.
I'm a recovering perfectionist and it still pains me to share work that I haven't poured over until I am 1000% confident it can be seen by another human. For years, I lived with real discomfort when work had to be 'handed in' (given to a client, submitted to a colleague, signed off by leadership) and I wasn't done with it. I found it hard even to share an unpolished draft of something, even to people I trusted and admired. Now, I share things that are very drafty with much less anxiety. What changed?
There were a number of great talks at WDS this year, and one of my favourites was given by Scott Berkun (@berkun and author of many books including Confessions of a Public Speaker). It resonated with me because he spoke so clearly about the damning effects of our narrative bias.
Scott argues that when work is challenging or we don't achieve success, we're caught off guard. He says that we have a narrative bias - on some level, we expect our lives to follow the narrative structure of books and movies. When we are denied our storybook ending, we don't shrug our shoulders with a 'c'est la vie', we are confused.
I love art exhibits where the rough sketches of a painting are framed along side the finished version. I feel like I get to know the artist through their abandoned ideas and last-minute additions. Those exhibits fuel my fascination for how things comes to be and who creates them.
This spring, as I was reading Austin Kleon's manifesto Share Your Work and rereading Brené Brown's Gifts of Imperfection, I realized that sharing our processes - along with the miss cues and mistakes - can be very powerful. Scott Berkun analysis of the Narrative Bias at this year's WDS reminded me of Austin and Brené's messages. They have convinced me that we can start to undo our bias towards perfection by showing our work in progress - the stuff that is half-done and half-good.
There are bazillions of design books and even more ‘learn to draw’ books, so I recommend browsing the shelves of your local library or bookstore to find ones that appeal to you. Some of my favourites have been in the kids’ section (which, when you see some of my drawings, makes sense).