The adaptable will


One of the first a-ha moments many of us have who are interested in user experience design is that whole maxim that “you are not your user.” At the time it’s a profound wagging of the finger that after years rings a tad cliche if only because it’s on the tip of every UX designer’s tongue.

It’s not wrong, though. In fact, we reinforce this truth adopting principles like being data driven, internalizing infinity-loop design models with quadrants dedicated to testing. Good design, we learn, is about accepting that you’re wrong, your stakeholders are wrong, your product manager is wrong, and - shit, when it comes to survey responses - your users are wrong, then evangelizing that wrongness until everyone adopts a design process that makes ya’ll a little less wrong.

What does that say about personality traits we, culturally, accept to be good? We applaud an iron will, but are frustrated by a stubborn one.

What’s the difference?

Remember that to change your mind and to follow someone’s correction are consistent with a free will. For the action is yours alone — to fulfill its purpose in keeping with your impulse and judgement, and yes, with your intelligence.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.16

Conditions change. New facts come in. Circumstances arise. If you can’t adapt to them — if you simply proceed onward, unable to adjust according to this additional information — you are no better than a robot. The point is not to have an iron will, but an adaptable will — a will that makes full use of reason to clarify perception, impulse, and judgement to act effectively for the right purpose.

Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, The Daily Stoic

Craft virtuously.

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Remember that design is not art, but a practice.

Michael Schofield