Discipline in design

One of my most highly valued and hard earned life lessons has been discipline.

Discipline is the final outcome of training and refinement. Training means doing something worthwhile, over and over and over again, in accordance with a defined plan, to reach a clear goal. Once I learned how to be disciplined, it was easy to apply that quality to other parts of my life and work. The trick is, you have to put in the time and effort before it can be applied. It takes dedication to a process of incremental, steady work.

In my role as a designer and business owner there are many ways that I benefit from maintaining good discipline. One of the most effective ways for me has been starting work early. There are two ways in which this applies; first – I begin my work day early. I often find myself working with folks who work late hours and I find that this pairs perfectly with that team dynamic. By starting my day early, I can review and respond to my teammates work before they begin their work day, which helps to keep the collaborative process moving smoothly. The second way means early as in while there is adequate time for the work to develop. This lesson became evident to me during my college years, when my designing muscles were first being formed. Good design needs incubation. An idea has to be developed, rested, refined, tested, refined… etc. until it has reached its potential. I learned quickly that you can’t do any of that if you start designing the day before you have to present an idea.

Discipline is one of the core competencies that are requisite for success. It gives me the ability to be relentless in the pursuit of my craft, makes me a more effective leader and a better collaborator, and serves as a guideline to keep me on point.