As Ken Robinson recently noted at TED the problem with understanding what we take for granted is that we don’t know what we take for granted until it’s gone.
I think in many instances that remains a truism in the young and ever growing disciplines of User Experience, Interaction Design, and Information Architecture. We are working in an era of perpetual discovery making the notion of any definitive answer to any particular problem, simply absurd!
The key to the success of any endeavor in which innovation is at the heart is in respecting the differing opinions, ideas, and experiences of others while working at understanding those ideals that may run contrary to our own.
In short, stop taking for granted the opportunity to learn from others; especially those with whom you passionately disagree! Reconciling those differences in my experience, though incredibly frustrating and even gut wrenching at times, will lead to the greatest opportunities to grow professionally.
If you are a thought leader in these fields, never forget that your responsibility to the growth of the discipline extends far beyond your contribution of new ideas…
When you get to a certain place if someone has helped you get you to where you are, you must help identify younger talent, and be the mentor for somebody else.
Some may argue, and rightfully so, that it’s not their job nor their career path to mentor anyone. They are in business to make money and sell products or services and that’s it! Of course that is a core reason why we are all in business. All I’m trying to suggest is that we never forget the impact (good or bad) we can have on those coming into our discipline.
Had I the heavens embroidered cloths enrought with gold and silver light; of blue and the dim; and the dark cloths of night; and light and the half light. I would spread the cloths under your feet. But I, being poor, have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats reminds us all that many of those who have similar dreams and ambitions are looking to many of us for direction and inspiration. Be mindful of that expectation; whether you want that responsiblity or not it is being thrust upon us all.