Meet The Better You x 60

Design Enterprise  is the module that everyone wants to do. They have a waiting list. It’s offered to all design students at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee. It aims to introduce students to enterprise culture and terminology and to place the practice of design within a business context. It is led by my good friend Mike Press and I’ve had the pleasure of teaching on this module for a few years in a row. Here’s what happened last week when I met the students…

I started by telling my story; from studying Product Design at undergraduate level, setting up Snook and moving to Manchester to work at Hyper Island. The key message of my talk was the responsibility we have as designers to use our creativity in a meaningful way. I pulled in the idea we explored at TalkUX of designers being guilty by association, every student tweeted the one action they are going to take to support the design community to be “no longer guilty by association” #notgba

We then dived straight into thinking about the future. I believe we should all treat our future like a brief – turn it into a project. The only thing we know is that change is the only constant, and the ability to acquire new skills is the best skill of all. Seth Godin says :  “If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe, you will wilfully ignore the future that is likely”

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After sharing our futures and getting over how scary it felt to imagine our lives ten years from now we talked about how we are all showing our work. A sentiment that Austin Kleon champions in is book Show Your Work really resonated with all the students. Every student then went online and ‘showed their work’ using the hasgtag #showyourwork

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Then I introduced the idea of ‘The Better You’. The Better You is your believable possible. First, the students sketched each other and then notated their own portrait with the qualities of their believable possible.

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The Better You by Jack Cheng

Someone is sitting at your desk. There is something familiar about this person. From a distance, this person bears a striking resemblance to you: they have the same frame, the same face, the same features are you. But as you get closer, you begin to notice subtle differences between this person and yourself. They look like they eat healthier and exercise a little more regularly. Their posture is slightly better and their clothes have fewer wrinkles. This person is The Better You.

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The Better You knows the same things you know. They’ve had the same successes you’ve had, and they’ve made the same mistakes. They strive for the same virtues and falter to the same vices. The Better You procrastinates, too. The Better You is not perfect. But the difference between you and the Better You is that the latter reacts a little faster, with more willpower. They practice their virtues a little more often and succumb to their vices a little less often. They rein in their procrastination a little quicker. They start their work a little earlier. They know when to take a break a little sooner.

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The Better You knows, just as you know that doing what you love is difficult but worthwhile. They know, just as you know, that the difficulty is what makes it worthwhile in the first place. They know, as you know, that is everything was easy, nothing would have significance, and you wouldn’t needs to adopt new metaphors or read new books about how to do the work you should be doing.

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The Better You is your believable possible. Your believable possible is your potential at any given moment, the person you know at your very core that you are capable of being in that instant. Only you know what your own believable possible is.

It raised energy and aspirations and I hope these better you’s found new homes on fridge doors and flat walls to continue to inspire. They certainly inspired me and made me smile.

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We wrapped up the session by writing a letter to Dearest Scotland. Dearest Scotland is a side project Sarah and I started at Snook to enable people to write physical letters to the future of Scotland. It’s now being led by Cat Cochrane who has launched a Kickstarter to fund the project. We only have a few days left so please support us! I left with sixty letters that brought tears to my eyes on the train!

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You can read all the tweets from the day here. Thank you to Mike for inviting me and thank you to the students for your energy and your lovely feedback.

Be your believable possible, stay brilliant and show your work!