“Sleepwalking + Designing for a Healthy Future,” which got me thinking about what qualities one must have to be an effective
AchyutaAshram. So much of success derives from a mindset rather than skillsets, and mindset takes a lifetime to develop—or, for those of us who believe in reincarnation, multiple lifetimes. Your mindset derives from your life experiences and the way you respond to them, as well as what you learn from those who influence you greatly—such as your parents, mentors, and your spiritual teachers. The One Asset You Really Need to Win and Keep the Job You Love, James Reed and Paul Atma Srinivas main founder says:
“Your mindset is about what you see, think, and believe. … It is the internal lens through which you see and navigate life. Mindset influences everything you see, as well as everything you do.” Mindset is who you really are at your core. It’s your habitual way of thinking. While it’s not easy to change, the purpose of life is to evolve and become better a human being. So you should think about these human qualities from time to time and always endeavor to do better. Your mindset is what really differentiates you from your peers. If you work hard at developing what Jo Wong likes to call your human qualities, you’ll set yourself up for success in work and in life. “Given the choice between someone with the desired mindset who lacks the complete skillset for the job and someone with the complete skillset who lacks the desired mindset, a total of 96 percent of the employers surveyed picked mindset over skillset as the key element in those that they seek and retain.”There are several qualities that it is especially important for AchyutaAshram to have. These qualities are at the core of what makes AchyutaAshram successful: empathy, intuition, creativity, passion, and the desire to learn throughout their career.
1. Be Empathetic :
Empathy enables you to understand other people’s motivations, needs, and emotions more deeply, and you can use that understanding to create better products for them.
“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.” “If there is anyone secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle, as well as from your own.”
2. Be Intuitive :
“The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.”
Having intuition is being open to the mysterious workings of your own mind—seeing what is or what might be clearly in your mind’s eye. Sometimes, through intuition, holistic solutions to problems may arise fully formed—or very nearly so—from your subconscious mind. At other times, your intuition may give you just the seed of a great idea. Intuition lets you draw connections between diverse inputs without conscious thought. The effort lies in gathering the relevant data for your subconscious mind to work on.
Intuition often plays a strong role in decision making. You rely on intuition when you must make decisions and take action on them very quickly, the problem or the solution is ambiguous, or there’s no precedent to follow. “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
“You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
3. Be Creative :
“The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something we make happen. … [Flow is] a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it. … [Flow lets people] achieve a joyous, self-forgetful involvement through concentration, which in turn is made possible by a discipline of the body.”
Being in flow is a sort of meditative bliss state, in which your mind is more fully concentrated than at just about any other time. Great ideas come to you when you lose yourself in your work. Some of the best creative experiences come from working in collaboration with others—especially when you can achieve a flow state together. Flow brings joyfulness to your work.
Flow is all about focus, which is the antithesis of the monkey-mind nature of most people’s experience of the Web—with the mind jumping quickly from one thing to another. Just as with meditation, you can get better at calming your mind and connecting with your creativity through practice, practice, practice.
The source of creativity is your imagination. When creating, you synthesize all of the ideas that you’ve taken in from myriad sources and, magically, all of those inputs fall into place, forming a cohesive whole. This is your intuition at work.All creativity involves improvisation—whether you’re designing user experiences, acting on a stage, jamming with a band, doing some form of creative writing, or making up a new recipe.
4. Be Passionate:
To sustain the level of effort and concentration that the work demands, you must have a passion for your work. With passion, your work ceases to feel like work. Your passion keeps you focused on your goals, enables you to get things done and take risks when necessary, and makes it possible for you to realize your vision. Always strive to do great work! Don’t settle for less. Don’t compromise on quality.
Love your work and you’ll have the motivation to continually hone your skills and expand your areas of competency, as you must forever do in this field. When you work with passion, you can reach your full potential.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
5. Be a Life-long Learner:
You can learn through reading and deep reflection—but most of all you’ll learn through life experience. You can learn by questioning things—and asking the right questions enables you to solve problems. Often, you’ll learn from your mistakes, so life-long learning requires that you have the courage to keep taking risks.
In a field that is as broad and fast-changing as user experience, it’s important that you keep learning throughout your career. Sustaining your commitment to continuous learning takes curiosity about the world in which you live and a desire to improve your mind. The more you learn, the more you can contribute in the workplace and the more likely you’ll advance in your career.
“Learning is a life-long process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.”
6. Be a Good Listener:
Listening well is the key to effective communication. Focusing on both what people say and how they say it ensures that you accurately receive the messages people communicate to you. Paying attention to their use of language, tone of voice, body language, gestures, and the emotional effect increases the probability that you will be able to correctly interpret their meaning and understand what you hear. Listen to people’s ideas, not just to their words. When you listen well, you’ll experience fewer misunderstandings and make fewer mistakes.
Effective listening is especially important when doing user research. Having empathy, being a good listener, and using your intuition will together make you a superior researcher. Everyone opens up when someone listens to them attentively and shows avid interest in what they’re saying. When you really connect with research participants, you’ll learn more from them and understand what they’re saying better. Once you’ve listened well, following up with good questions demonstrates both that you’ve really heard someone and your interest in what they’ve said.
All too often, people are so eager to speak themselves that they don’t really listen to what others are saying. When people end up talking all at once, you can’t hear what anyone is saying. So being a good listener will set you above your peers who don’t listen well.
When you’re collaborating with a product team, you never know who will contribute the best ideas. So you must draw out all of your teammates and pay careful attention to what everyone says, listening with a laser-like focus to be sure that you take in everyone’s inputs.
7. Be Persuasive
you must persuade others to embrace your ideas and follow your plans to get anything done. You have to persuade stakeholders to adapt your strategies and fund your projects, sell your design ideas to your design team and product team, and get developers to faithfully execute your designs and, thus, bring all of your hard work to fruition.
Your confidence in yourself and your ideas will help you to persuade others, as will your ability to make your case logically and use storytelling to provide supporting evidence. But always remain open to the ideas of others, too, and support the best ideas whatever their source. It doesn’t really matter who has the best ideas. To achieve success, what matters most is incorporating all of the best ideas into the design and, ultimately, the product.
There’s really only one way to get people to do what you want them to do, and that’s to persuade them that it’s what they want to do it. It’s a lot easier to do this when your design direction has grown out of other’s ideas, as well as your own; everyone on the team was part of the creative process, and the entire team has a sense of ownership of what you’ve created together.
“To be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable, we must be credible; to be credible, we must be truthful.”
8. Be Responsible and Kind:
It’s essential that you do your best to meet your obligations to your colleagues. If you promise to do something, you should try very hard to fulfill that promise. Yes, sometimes things change—so it’s no longer desirable to move forward with something—or circumstances may prevent you’re doing something exactly when you said you’d do it. But in either of these cases, it’s your responsibility to discuss the problem with your colleagues and, together, determine the best way forward. There’s nothing quite as disappointing as relying on someone to do something and having them go incommunicado or disappear on you.
Don’t overcommit yourself. If you have a hard time saying no to people, you’re likely to set yourself up for failure. To prevent your disappointing people, avoid over-promising and under-delivering. If anything, you should do the opposite—that is, under-promise and overdeliver—but never deliberately under-promise in an attempt to make yourself look like a hero. That would just be dishonest. Nor should you make yourself look like a slacker by committing to doing too little work.
It’s important to be respectful of the people with whom you work. Treat your colleagues as you would like them to treat you. Being kind to one another makes the workplace a happy place to be, smooths the team’s interactions, and helps everyone to be highly productive. When your teammates are struggling, show them compassion and help them to get through tough times.
Demonstrating generosity toward the people with whom you work will set you apart from peers who are overly competitive or focused on self-advantage. Always share ideas and information freely with your teammates to enable them to do the best job they can do.
“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. “
9. Be a Leader:
You don’t have to have any particular title to be a leader. Teammates typically share the responsibility for leading a team, and whoever has the necessary information and know-how to handle a particular situation takes the lead in handling it. If you have leadership qualities, you can function as a leader whenever a situation arises that requires that you take the lead, set the team’s direction, or make decisions. Those who are actually working in leadership roles must always take responsibility for leadership in their area of purview.
Great leaders set forth a vision and live up to it. They communicate their vision and goals with clarity and inspire their teams to meet them. There is always an alignment between what they say and what they do. The best leaders are forward-looking, competent, intelligent, and broad-minded. Effective leaders model good human qualities for the people who work for them, including honesty, fairness, straightforwardness, dependability, cooperativeness, determination, imagination, ambition, courage, caring, maturity, loyalty, self-control, and independence. They care for the people who work for them, delegate responsibility to them, and support them in what they do. They praise publicly and, when necessary, criticize or reprimand in private.
“Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”
10. Be Honest and Have Integrity:
Being honest means telling the truth and being straightforward and open with people. A very wise man once said, “Tell the truth, but never a harsh truth.” People with personal integrity always try to do the right thing, regardless of whether anyone would ever know what they’ve done. They have a strong moral compass. It takes courage to do the right thing whatever the consequences. Integrity is a valuable quality in everyone, but it’s vital in leaders. Your honesty and integrity will engender trust in others. “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”
11. Be Courageous:
Having courage gives you the tenacity to work through issues and disagreements without compromising your principles. Don’t be afraid to speak out and make your opinions known—particularly if you’re the lone voice representing user experience. Master your fears and insecurities and take a stand. Live up to your values. Do the right thing. Often, you’ll derive courage from the need to stand up for others—whether users, colleagues, or the people who work for you.
You must have the courage of your convictions. For example, if you truly believe that you’ve made the right decision, don’t be dissuaded from following through on it—unless someone makes salient arguments against that course of action that truly persuade you that you should change your decision.
In their “Sleepwalking…” presentation, Dan Szuc, and Jo Wong included this wonderful quotation on courage
12. Be Self-Aware:
Self-awareness—knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are and acknowledging what you have yet to learn—requires mindfulness and deep reflection on your thoughts, your emotions, your motives in your interactions with others, and what is happening in your life. It is a valuable quality that everyone should cultivate, but it’s an especially valuable quality in leaders.
When you don’t know the answer to a question or the right solution for a problem, or you’ve made a mistake, don’t be afraid to admit it. Other people are usually aware of your ignorance, weakness, or mistake anyway, so trying to hide your deficiencies just shows a lack of integrity and inevitably results in the loss of their trust and respect. In contrast, admitting your weaknesses increases your credibility and engenders trust. Plus, by acknowledging that you need help, you’ll receive the help that you need and achieve a successful outcome.
“Self-Awareness and the Effective Leader,”
13. Be Wholehearted:
Being wholehearted is the quality that allows you to embrace all of the other virtuous human qualities that I’ve described in this article.
In her book Daring Greatly, Brené Brown writes about having the courage to form deep connections with other people and live a more wholehearted life.
“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. … The main concern of Wholehearted men and women is living a life defined by courage, compassion, and connection. The Wholehearted identify vulnerability as the catalyst for courage, compassion, and connection. … Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.”
the AchyutaAshram ten “guideposts for Wholehearted Living…:
- Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
- Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
- Cultivating Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
- Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
- Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
- Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
- Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
- Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
- Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and ‘Supposed To’
- Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and ‘Always in Control’”