I am one of those people haunted by all the mistakes they made, however big or small. I cannot stop thinking of that stupid thing I said 15 years ago at 3AM in that kitchen. You get the idea. Yet, I am getting more and more used to the way American people are considering failures. You either win or learn. And this is quite a cultural shift from the French way of life.
However, going back to the design core principles can be really helpful to help us thrive while failing. The work of a designer is never done. It’s a never ending iterating process having you collect data, explore and implement solutions, monitoring them, then collecting even more data … and improving them a bit more each time until they fit perfectly.
There are so many things I really love about this slow and passionate way of working. Above all, there is the idea that knowledge is the key to everything. It’s not about instincts, or creative impulses. It’s about empowerment through knowledge.
I send a lot of time watching American talk shows and British comedies. (I am particularly fond of Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, SNL and Ricky Gervais. It’s also a way to improve my English and to get to know more about those cultures I love.
One day, I came across an interview of Oprah Winfrey on the Ellen Show. They were talking about Maya Angelou. It may have been some time after her passing. And this quote came out: “when you know better, you do better!“
I must have blanked out when she said those words. Maya Angelu said with a wisdom and a talent I don’t have what I was trying to figure out all those years.
Not only it’s OK to fail. But one may welcome their failure with joy as they are opportunities to do better. For someone stroke with anxieties, this is truly liberating.
And it’s even more than that. This is also a path to follow. This is a response to this search of meaning. When my time would come, what would be my legacy as I turn myself to embrace my whole journey. What would I have done to empower the others with knowledge. What tools would I leave behind so that people would be able to tackle their share of complexity to make the world a better place.
I don’t have answers to those questions, yet. That is humbly what I am trying to do with my students. But it’s not enough. I am feeling this urge to get back to work and start sketching something in this direction.
It’s now time to do better.