While taking a much needed holiday break this december, I came across a delicious handful of articles all focusing on self improvement. They seemed to come out of nowhere, and across all continents, but in one week stretch I was introduced to Jamie Yost, Danielle LaPorte, Alexandra Franzen, Michelle Ward, and what honestly feels like a small tribe of so many other names and faces.
What’s so interesting about finding these women, and the topics they work on, is how unexpectedly helpful it all was just to read their perspectives. Perspectives on uniqueness, creating a career centered around that uniqueness, on why just having A perspective is so necessary, and on and on.
Much of it deeply, richly, rewarding, and if you’re searching for your purpose, calling, or need a stiff kick that feels like a hug, these women are for you.
For me though, just getting jarred with their thoughts and words was plenty for me to sift and chew through. I mean hell, it’s 2 weeks into January and I’m finally writing about it.
One of the articles that has stayed pretty present throughout this entire span of time is this interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson– a personal favorite of mine. He’s not a hero, not a mentor, but a wonderful glowing role model of intelligence, passion and an adorable, and totally quirky personality. He does it completely right, and I love him for it.
The interview/article talks about how NdT goes about answering a question he must hear a lot, “How do I become you?” and the answer he gave quite possibly be the best advice I’ve ever had as to how to be HAPPY as an adult:
“The task,” he says, “is to find the unique combination of facts that apply to you. Then people will beat a path to your door.”
Oh yeah, that literally is the greatest stuff on earth.
So for a few weeks, or however long it’s been since I’ve read these words, I’ve been considering it. What ARE the unique combination of facts that make me, me? If you’ll indulge me for a second, I have some other questions:
I used to think design encompassed everything I loved about.. well everything. I’m talking language, anthropology, sociology, geometry, algebra, history, and then of course the visual stuff– but as soon as I left college, and throughout my career, it became very obvious that I was the one inserting those layers in my work. I was the one that thought creating an algebraic equation would be the perfect solution to visually represent the characters in Magnolia. Not that I’m a genius, or that it wouldn’t ever had been attempted by someone else, but it just hadn’t at that time– and really when I tried to present it to my class, a level 10 meltdown occurred. The remedy? 3 Martinis. Stat.
Flash forward to 2008-2010 when I’m sitting at home combing through doctoral theses pertaining to Kubrick’s directing style, buying every book I can on the subject– because the Florida library system truly leaves learning to the imagination.
And now to today, when I’ve got a good stride happening, but what is it for? What do I hope it will bring me, either in the professional or personal realms? I hear how much of an impact the project will have in a scholastic setting, but mainly how it will benefit the ‘obsessed fans’– which is great, but not my goal.
At the beginning of this project, my attempted goal was to create a different way of thinking–both about Kubrick’s films, which need to be treated like Renaissance paintings (thanks to the LACMA for making that come to fruition), but about design itself. Design, or the ever so trendy ‘design thinking’ includes the same exact thought process needed to dissect an algebraic problem, to break down a geometric proof, and even to use any and all tools necessary to break down a heavy, and conceptually thick film. It’s all ” process”, like design is a process, and I clearly have a distinct perspective on the matter.
So I have found my unique set of traits, and my task now is to find/make that applicable in a real world setting. What does it mean that I can break down large sets of information, sort out the relevant info and discard the rest? What does it mean that I can translate the verbal across the conceptual and find every opportunity for communication?
And my personal favorite: What am I really DOING with all this? There are parts to this where I just love the process of doing it. Working within the analytical and visual side by side feels like my own personal playground, it truly does, but how can I use the new skills I’m growing? Who will find these traits most beneficial and how on earth can they be used most effectively?
Of course I’ll know the more I do, but sometimes you just have to stop and look around, get yourself re-oriented, only to pick up and continue on in a much more decided, confident path.
*This totally endearing image of NdT is taken from Web2.0 news, who used to showcase NdT’s AWESOME dancing skills. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough”? Perfection.