I am blessed in that I have chosen a career I am passionate about. I work in a field that inspires. My career is not just about punching the clock and going to work, but about the work I do and how that work carries through my life. I take it home with me. I live with my career. It helps define who I am.
I think about advice I would give to designers who are starting out, or who are still in school and looking for that first job. I think about old sayings like “Don’t take your work home with you.”, and “Have a life.” In some circumstances they still hold up. You do need to have a life, and experiences outside the office or your job. But this profession, this career is also about bringing your experiences into the office, building projects and jobs around those experiences and the life your living. This profession is not about drawing a line between work and home but how you put it all together. There are a myriad of crossovers between work and home, that many times, are to complicated to be defined with conventional sayings and blithe advice. You need to be engaged. You need to do your best. You need to be a leader and humble to still learn and grow. You need new experiences.
I go to school. I teach. I try to practice what I preach and I try to preach what I practice. At the same time I am responsible to my family, to my employer and to the clients I work with. Yes, I have to do a good job and yes I have to stretch and explore and grow constantly. It is the nature of design professionals in general and it is the heart of my profession.
I am just back from listening to a speaker talk about our profession. One line that was said that resonated and brought me here today at the office, on a Saturday afternoon was …are we just benefiting from the rules set before our profession, or are helping to shape those rules and our futures? I am paraphrasing the comment, but we were discussing how our profession engages the larger work that we do. The machine that is the business that we all depend on. That if we do not lead the endeavor we will and can be replaced by those who will.
On the other side of that coin with leadership skills is humility. Humility is a fundamental key. We have to know and understand we do not know everything. There are new people to learn from and new things to learn that are constantly evolving around us. Embracing and understanding humility is easy for some and difficult for others. Schools that excel in teaching students who become great designers, provide lessons in humility for students. Jurys and critiques of projects on a daily and semester base in studio environments go a long way to nurture design skills and to teach individual qualities such as humility and accepting and integrating constructive criticism.
I am growing into my career. I can longer consider myself a student. I have been gone from the undergraduate teachings of my profession for too many years. I have been practicing my career long enough to recognize some of my new roles as leader, teacher, and mentor when the opportunities present themselves. I still have to understand I need help, advice and sometimes a swift kick in the ass, just as I provide to those who I work for.
This post is different from the conversation I was having in head, which helped me to start pushing the keys this afternoon. And that is okay. Topics I was brainstorming and thinking of were, and topics I would like to spend more time in putting my thoughts on would be:
- Advice to students, lessons learned
- Ethics of my profession, responsibilities to client, project and the public
- the ethos of my profession – how it does define and shape my life and how my life shapes it.
- What am I doing now, and what I am going to be doing. Lessons I have learned and those that I wish to apply. Where is my career going? Where am I taking it, (not to be a soul searching mind numbing adventure, but there needs to be some focus/ plan/ direction of some kind. A simple point of light to help guide but not determine the final destination)?
- I am thinking about specific topics that I should and need to pursue defining my understanding and beliefs about. So I do have a point of reference in conversations. Points that can either teach others or can be discussions that broaden and or change my original thinking.
- I tend to write in big picture and macro environments and thoughts. I need to get better at distilling down to specific issues and examples. I think the big picture is critical to understand, but as the old saying goes “The Devil is in the Details.” In this profession some of the best parts of what we do are the details!