Why sluv..?

I recently collaborated on a project that looked at the onboarding process and how it could be improved (specific to our UX team within a large enterprise). During that project, a colleague shared a Harvard Business Review article that ended up setting the tone for our proposal. It basically spoke to the frustrations we’ve all identified from our own work experiences, but it especially resonated with me in regard to the modern-day, ever-expanding sense of digital identity.

The article spoke to the concept of “authentic self” and how the more we feel accepted and valued for who we really are, the more engaged and fulfilling our work lives can be. (Kind of a no-brainer, right?)

The value of authenticity — in life and in business — is not a new idea, of course. I read the James H. Gilmore book discussing the idea from a business point of view back in 2008, had an opportunity to hear Chris Brogan speak in 2011 about a similar idea involving social media, and one could argue that Gary Vaynerchuk has built his brand upon this concept with tremendous success. (Recently, I discovered the writings of Brené Brown which seem to be speaking to similar themes, as well, but I need to dive into them to learn more.)

But as deeply intuitive as this idea feels, the reason not everyone achieves this kind of fulfillment is because it requires a healthy dose of courage and confidence. In order for folks to know and appreciate the many facets of our personality, we must first be comfortable sharing them. And for me, that can be intimidating. You may indeed find some who appreciate your candor and enthusiasm, but you are also making yourself vulnerable to scrutiny by a larger, unknown audience. And as we all have witnessed, there is a thick vein of snap judgment and snark to be mined out there (and worse, frankly), especially via digital channels.

At any rate, it made me rethink the approach to my website. Like most designers, I’ve always used my website simply as a way to share examples of my work, perhaps including notes about particular projects. A perfectly standard, if somewhat narrow, frame through which to view myself. What excites me about this fuller, more authentic approach to sharing is that it spreads beyond just project work.

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. But not all design projects—not all gigs, for that matter—are winners. Not everything I work on makes it all the way to implementation. Over the course of my career, in retrospect, I’d say that I’m batting about .500 in that regard, and even that estimate seems a bit generous, to be honest.

Plus, most of my professional work references my deeper creative identity only tangentially. Deeply rooted influences and obsessions have a complex relationship with one’s design aesthetic. How does “taste” in anything, develop, if not over many years, after accruing many experiences? I, myself, see a clear line from my obsession with board games as a kid to my love of design today, but that is not a conversation that is likely to happen in a work environment. How many of our long-standing interests are hiding out, like ghosts, within our professional work — present and palpable to us but unseen and unknown to most other observers?

As a teacher, I used to heartily encourage my students to bring their own passions—no matter how wide-ranging—to the design projects they did in my classes, and tried to get them to share those underpinnings as openly as possible with their peers. Which makes me realize:

I’ve talked the talk, I need to walk the walk.

So many things inform my creative sensibility, inform who I am. Why not share more of those things? What am I afraid of? As long as I exercise a modicum of good sense and taste about what I say and share—practice being a good netizen, in other words—then more openness can only be a good thing, right?

I recently discovered the Mozilla Learning Network, and I’m a big fan. On that website they talk about what it means to be a good web citizen in the 21st century, what concepts we should be cultivating in our up-and-coming generations. They refer to this as Web Literacy, and they use a simple but effective way of laying out those behaviors:

I was stunned at how clearly this captures what I’m seeking to achieve. The four color-coded skills on the left are what every designer strives to excel in, and the inner circle of the Web Literacy activities are the three core activities that help make that happen: Read. Write. Participate.

So, I’m trying something new. To a large degree precipitated by significant personal and professional events of the past few years, I’m expanding my horizons. I’m going to open up and share more of the things I love, all the stuff that brings me joy. Time to accentuate the positive, shed my fear of sharing, and strengthen my writing habit.

Hence, sluv.

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Lifelong reader and lover of the arts. Came to Medium for the long-form online pieces, stayed to help strengthen my own writing and to share more.

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Scott Lindsten

Scott Lindsten

Lifelong reader and lover of the arts. Came to Medium for the long-form online pieces, stayed to help strengthen my own writing and to share more.

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