A little bit of forewarning: this post contains some thankful, appreciative gushing. That said, it’s totally justified so read on anyway, dear friends.
I spent a fair amount of time this week agonising over a design. Don’t worry, it was the good type of agonising. I liken it to being at a restaurant, being reeeeeally into two different meals on the menu only to remember that the socially acceptable thing is to order only one. You see, I had created something that I really loved but kept finding that one small part wasn’t exactly working how I would have liked it to. In this case, my beloved design was like wanting two tasty meals and the part that wasn’t working was the kill-joy social code of group dining that allowed me to only have one. Ugh. Throughout the week, I visited and revisited this particular part of my work but continued to struggle with finding a solution I was happy with on my own.
Cue, my logical and wise boss who suggested I get the entire team to cast their eyes over it. So the next morning, I put the design up in front of the team during standup to get some help. In front of designers, developers and project managers I asked, is this working to you?; is it clear?; what do you think I can do to improve XYZ? What ensued was a lively conversation full of constructive critique and practical suggestions to solve the issue. Despite my somewhat agonised state and, I’ll admit, my less than gracious reception to the feedback, everyone was honest, helpful, persistent and open. As a result, once I had collected everyone’s thoughts and returned to my desk to rework the design, I ended up fixing the niggling problem in less than an hour. The fix immediately gelled with me and overall the design went down really well with the client during its presentation.
But, my little win is not what this post is about. Instead, it is about how much this week reminded me that working with great people has every positive effect on your work that you could imagine. During that standup, different perspectives happened, honesty happened, energy happened, people genuinely caring about another person’s work happened. These are the sort of people I work with every day who do these things every day. Unsurprisingly then, I always come to work filled with a joy and eagerness I haven’t really felt prior to Humaan. Each day, I can look forward to being surrounded by talented people who are willing to share their knowledge. I can look forward to a day full of good chats, laughs, questionable music tastes, Dad-jokes and smiling at my desk for no reason. I can look forward to humility, generosity, optimism and most of all, supportiveness. I can look forward to no-ego, no-arrogance and no-judgement. I can look forward to always creating great things as part of a group who are not just a ‘team’, but also a group of friends. I can look forward to always improving as a designer, as a team member and as a person because of the people I am surrounded by each day.
Not long after I joined Humaan, I attended the 2013 Semi-Permanent conference in Melbourne (Semi-Permanent 2013 is strangely returning a few truths to me this year). During one of the talks, I took the blurry photo below of a slide.
I can’t exactly remember why I took a photo of this slide. Maybe I thought it was inspirational? Maybe I thought it was something catchy I could repeat to someone when I got home? Maybe I thought the slide looked nice? Maybe. However, my guess is that I probably took this photo because the slide resonated with me; because this simple action, that can often be surprisingly difficult to obtain, was something to aspire to. Earlier that year I had recovered from burnout and at the time of the conference I was feeling newly optimistic. I had been at Humaan for 5 months and although I had some idea that I was onto something good who knew that this slide was a sign of things to come and that in only a year and a bit, this would be and still be my every day.
Remembering to surround yourself by good people should be something that is a given. Unfortunately, every day, everywhere, people surround themselves with people who don't bring out the best in them. While I realise that this is not always in a person's control, the ability to change the situation is. Seek out the good energy, and move away from the bad. Surrounding yourself with good, genuine, nice, supportive, honest etc people will help you grow, it will help you do good work and it will help you be better.