Don’t Ignore the Quiet Voice

I was reading Liam Campbell’s post on advice to a programmer looking to get more into design and the question was whether becoming a “designer” was something that one was born with (and therefore hopeless for the developer) or something that can be learned. Mr. Campbell appropriately pointed out that every decision we make is based on our design preference — in essence, we are all designers regardless of what title we have.

I agree.
Design is all around us and our affinity for a particular
style (aka design) hints at our designer inner-selves.

He also dismisses talent, which is where we diverge in our cogitations.

I believe (and have 42 years of data to back it up) that each of us possesses unique talents/gifts/designs/super-powers that, well…make us unique. This, I believe, is also expressed in how we live. It’s most notably present in our satisfaction with various activities.

The analogy of a watermelon seed squeezed between your fingers comes to mind. That seed will squirt out at the point where the pressure is weakest. A skilled seed-squeezer can aim that seed with great accuracy because she understands (sometimes innately) the laws of physics; more pressure at the rear allows that force to propel the seed as it overcomes friction in an equal and opposite direction.

The point is that we tend to move into situations where confidence and strength allow us to find success and satisfaction; where the net energy gain is positive. Conversely, we move away from situations that scare us or make us feel uncomfortable.

This is a natural, even subconscious pattern. And just like Mr. Campbell suggests that we should consciously examine our design preferences, we should also examine why one activity is preferable over another.

What you will find, if the examination is thorough enough, are hints to a purpose.

You see, I don’t subscribe to the notion that we are all the same — stem cells waiting for some sort of “signal” to determine our purpose. I believe it has been done for us and part of our job in this life is to discover it; embrace it; honor it with every fiber.

We are not all capable of being as good as everyone in everything given enough time and effort.

Moving in the direction of least resistance and most satisfaction almost always produces a well-aimed reaction where pressure overcomes friction with explosive force.

A note of caution for the devil’s advocate.
The suggestion to examine what feeds you energy is not an excuse to ignore the uncomfortable or hard or dark places in our being. Health is the goal and at times, that may require shining a light into the darkness; wading into the scary places.

Don’t do it alone — find someone who’s flashlight shows signs of use; someone with some bumps and bruises and has lived to tell the stories — and ask them to go with you.

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