Coloring All Day

On Facebook the other day, I came across a friend’s post about a unique job interview question they had just been asked. The question was “How would you describe your current position to a 3rd grader?” What a great question, right?! It instantly challenges you to come up with a creative and interesting answer because that is what would hold the attention of a 3rd grader.

So this got me thinking about what I do daily and how different it sounds when I give a “safe answer” to people (usually adults) upon first meeting. Isn’t it silly, in general, how the standard introductory question when you meet someone is always “what do you do”? As if what we do is supposed to describe who we are as people! And if we are describing ourselves in terms of what we do, why do we give a safe answer? Shouldn’t we always try to make it sound as awesome as possible? I mean, if I was talking to a 3rd grader, I definitely would make my job sound extra cool.

I wish I could say that I always describe my day-to-day job with overflowing enthusiasm, but that probably wouldn’t be true. Oftentimes, I give that “safe answer” so that I can give a short, and condensed description and move on to the next topic. Is that what happens when we hit adulthood? Are we automatically supposed to think of our lives as just a 9-5 job that we go to and automatically make it sound super boring because we are always getting asked that same question? I don’t purposely try to make my job sound uninteresting and unimportant but 9 times out of 10, that is probably how it comes across. I think we often try way too hard to sound intelligent and sophisticated, myself included, and instead come across as really boring. I can guarantee that I wouldn’t want to tell a 3rd grader what I do in the same way that I tell other adults.

So to answer the question to a 3rd grader, I would enthusiastically tell them that my job is extremely fun; different every day; and, in kid terms, basically the same as coloring all day! I think they would think that is the coolest thing ever because it pretty much is!

I’ve noticed that I’ve had this same enthusiasm in some of my recent designs for elementary-age Destination ImagiNation teams. I have a tendency to take way more creative risks in their designs because I feel like I can. I’m not afraid of what they will think or being rejected because even if I come up with something totally ridiculous, they still might love it! And when they don’t love it, they will at least have a creative solution for the problem because they don’t over think things like we do as adults. They would never answer with a boring job description just to get the question answered so I know they would never let a lame design pass either.

It’s my goal to approach more of our customers with that same sort of fearlessness because it makes what I do that much more rewarding. A quote that I read on Twitter from another designer said: “The longer I’m in design, the more I disagree with “Quality, not quantity”. Make a ton of stuff. Succeed. Fail. Learn. Do it all.” This is such a good motto to design by, I think. We all get stuck in ruts and it is especially easy to get stuck in the “safe zone” creatively. But that’s when we need to remind ourselves that taking creative risks is important because with those risks come reward. Kids are never afraid to take risks and I think we, as adults, need to be more like kids in that way. The risks are what make the best stories and therefore supply your material for enthusiastically answering the question, “So, what do you do?” Regardless of whether you’re talking to a 3rd grader or grown adult.

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