Wilson Miner gave this talk at Build in 2011, and I found it to be both incredibly moving and inspirational.
Towards the end of his talk he centers on the work of Robert Irwin, particularly Irwin’s idea of being, “available in response.” The primary tenet of which is, rather than knowing what one wishes to accomplish within a particular set of parameters, one must be open to all possibilities within a space before embarking on any particular course.
As a designer I come to all of my projects with a collection of acquired knowledge. I have a catalogue of solutions that have worked in the past, solutions I have seen in the work of others, and if I was a strict craftsman, this would be enough. We expect our experts to know how to respond to a situation.
Unfortunately for me, my work is equal parts artistry and practicality, and therefore I am expected to be both inspired as well as grounded. The great works of design and interaction tend to be both magical and logical, therefore two different parts of me must work together. I need to be confident in my skills, but also open to input and new solutions.
In the video there is a quote about learners versus knowers, and the gist of it is that learners will always be able to grow and move as the world changes. Knowers, on the other hand, will be stuck with what they already have, and lose everything when the world moves on without them.
For me then, the key to growth is to know what I don’t. To understand my lack of understanding, and to allow myself to respond as a learner rather than a knower. I must be okay with, “I don’t know.