There you are starting a brand new project at work. You've been waiting for this opportunity. You're feeling energized and alive.
This time things will go much better than last time.
This time there won't be any hurdles.
This time you will be able to add the project to your portfolio.
The project begins, and you realize that it isn't as exciting or challenging as you thought it would be. By the looks of it, you probably won't be able to add this project to your portfolio either, but that's ok.
On the surface, this may seem like a missed opportunity, but if you dig a little deeper, I bet you can identify a few areas within the project where you can improve your skills.
In Improv, there is a concept known as "Everything is an offer." If you're not familiar with Improv, it is the art of making things up on the spot. Improvisors work collaboratively to build conversations, scenes, and worlds without a script and any planning. Applying "Everything is an offer," helps those up on the stage to take what other people say or do as an offer and use it to move the story forward, which helps each person stay adaptable and ready for anything that happens on the stage.
Let's get back to our project. By keeping a mindset that every situation you face during a project is an offer, you will be open to every opportunity that comes your way and be less frustrated by the fact that it's not the shiny project you were expecting.
For example, do you need to practice presenting your designs through storytelling? Then see every design review as an opportunity to practice your storytelling skills. Have you wanted to understand how Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) work and are used to measure the success of a project? Then find out what the KPIs are for your project to help you make better decisions.
Are there areas within your process that you have wanted to improve? Think of this as an opportunity to hone your skills so you can be ready for that big project.
Here are some areas that you could practice in:
- Understanding why the project is important
- What are the user and business needs this project will address?
- What are the KPIs of the project?
- Understanding the design strategy
- Use sketching more often than you currently do to work through your ideas
- Improving communication with your team
- Managing your time efficiently
- Doing thorough background research about the subject matter
- Improving your storytelling skills when presenting designs to stakeholders
- Honing in on areas of your design process you need to improve
- Improving your communication skills
- Improving your deliverables, annotations, and handoffs
Which areas do you need to work on for yourself? What would you include on your list?
- Take 5 minutes to brainstorm the skills you would like to improve.
- Seek opportunities within your projects to practice honing those skills to make them rock solid.
Now you don't need to wait for a new project to start. You can begin seeking out opportunities to hone your skills, your craft, and your process, so when that high-profile project does come around, you know you will be ready to take it on.
Take everything as an offer, and remember, it's all about perspective!