Be A Designer Of Something

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Some people don’t think that they are creative.

I don’t agree. I believe that everyone is creative in their own way. Some people don’t think that they’re job is all that creative. I don’t agree. I believe that every job requires different layers of creativity. When this point of conversation and contention comes up (and trust me, it’s a conversation that I find myself having more often than you might suspect), it can be hard to convince someone that what they do, in their work hours, demands some level of creativity. The challenge, of course, is that creativity is the output. The output of anything can be hard to see. Even if it’s the work that one does, day in and day out.

Maybe it’s time to forget about the output.

If you’re struggling to find the creativity in the work that you do, why not forget about the output and start focusing more on where the work is coming from. Work from the origins of ideas and not the output of them to understand your own layers of creativity.

Be a designer.

This is going to make my designer friend’s skin crawl (apologies in advance), but maybe everyone needs to think and act like a designer. Designers rule. What kinds of things will you design today? What designs will you manifest to solve the challenges of today and tomorrow?

Grab a notepad.

I’ve decided to take my words a little bit more seriously and deliberately with every passing year. Call it a personal challenge to keep myself learning and motivated. It’s not that the words weren’t being taken seriously before, it’s that I want to constantly up my game. I carry a notebook and a pen everywhere now. I used to rely on apps or just emailing notes to myself. I’m back to paper and ink. I’m going paleo on my writing. I want to see how my hands handle the thoughts as they tumble out from between my earholes. I want to hesitate with that pen. Think about the words. Tinker with those words and design a better way to write something. To say anything. To literally and figuratively scratch at the words.

Design a deck.

Maybe it’s a deck in your backyard, maybe it’s a PowerPoint deck. When I think about client work at Twist Image, I think about designing a PowerPoint deck. How can I take this idea and twist it into an understandable presentation? How will the idea be designed? What images and story will support the brand narrative? Designing a deck isn’t about the slides, it’s about designing a story.

Become a designer.

It’s not just for people in creative positions who get to wear shorts and sandals to work. Start with a pen and paper and write down some ideas. I love how my friend, James Altucher, carries around a waiter’s pad and doesn’t start his day unless he’s written down ten new ideas. He’s designing! What’s he designing? Who knows. The point is that he’s planning, thinking, researching and designing his ideas. That notepad and paper are blueprints and he’s constantly designing something with them.

Being a designer gives you freedom.

It’s true. Think about it. If you fashion yourself as a designer of the work that you’re doing, you are also giving yourself some real and serious freedom to think before doing, to plan things in a more methodical way, to no longer worry about going to a physical location to get something done. Be a designer. I’ll find myself pulling the car over to the side of the road to get something down. I’ll find myself staring off into the landscape to see what rolls back in on to that pad (instead of watching another episode of American Pickers). Allowing yourself to be a designer is a great and simple way to give yourself the freedom to explore the work that you do, and what you bring to it. Not only the job that you’re doing, but the industry that you serve. You don’t need the title on your business card for it to be real. You just have to choose to become a designer.

Choose it. Become a designer. What’s the worst thing that could happen?