Stoic Designer Retrospective

A retrospective is a look-back at a sprint or project with the team involved with the goal to answer what we did well, what didn't go so hot, and what we could do better. In our case, we'll treat it more like an end-of-chapter review in a textbook.

This week, daily stoics read three emails:

  1. July 1st: Deliberate practice

  2. July 3rd: What stands in the way becomes the way

  3. July 5th: You can dam the river

Thematically we could probably look at these broadly as summons to be active. Deliberate practice is about identifying a weakness in your skillset and doing something about it; the mantra "what stands in the way becomes the way" is about reframing an obstacle as a to-do item; and you can dam the river is a reminder that going with the flow, choosing to be passive, is a deliberate, active choice.

As we learn to equate skillset with practice, with cause and effect, the formula for improving your craft evolves from some kind of depressive, self-deprecating FOMO -- "I just can't design like she can" -- to an actionable statement of fact: "I can design like she can if I just practice enough.

The term deliberate practice exists to differentiate the "practice" in repetition, doing the same thing day-in and out (which can be an avenue for expertise, if done long enough), from consistent, systematic practice performed to see measured improvement of some metric."

Each action or inaction is your choice. We can ease the cognitive overhead of doing stoic design work by choosing to establish and follow routines, like daily stoic journaling, daily deliberate practice, and so on, but whether you do or don't ought to be deliberate.

This weekend you might choose to not read your work email, or to write some code; you choose to be at the beach or in the gym; you choose to burn or recuperate from burnout. Your homework is to take ownership of your decision to relax - or to not - and try to practice owning those decisions.

Craft virtuously,
Michael Schofield