I don’t know whether James Clear is brilliant or just smart. He wrote the book Atomic Habits (very good.) I subscribe to his weekly email. He formats it with a 3-2-1 thing. 

Three ideas from him. Two quotes from others. One question for you. They are mildly addicting and usually very interesting. There is rarely something that would change the course of our understanding of the universe, but they are always great reminders of what it takes to be top of your game. IMO.

His email from a week ago or so had this as one of his three ideas from him:

“The longer you’re a teacher, the less you remember what it is like to be a student.

The longer you’re a doctor, the less you remember what it is like to be a patient.

The longer you’re a coach, the less you remember what it is like to be a player.

Change positions. A new perspective can improve your old methods.”

I am always a fan of getting out of your “zone” of knowledge. I fervently believe creativity, intelligence, and success, spring from unique combinations of divergent thoughts.

And if you are constantly immersed in your own world, you don’t get those wild ideas that fly in from left field. You end up, like I see many in this industry, falling back on old saws and ideas from 1920.

It’s those random ideas that ultimately form the foundation for new, groundbreaking designs.

Two Ways to Get Out of Your Way

James’ quote focuses on making sure you get your head into your audience’s world.

For me and my industry, if you’re designing an incentive program for air conditioner dealers – go talk with one. Better yet, do a ride-along with a contractor and see how their day goes. Creating a web-only process for someone who may or may not have access to a tablet or smartphone for a good part of the day may not be a great idea – or at least you’ll now know you need an offline element to capture those that may be less internet-endowed.

But there is also the issue of getting out of your way in your own industry. If you’re in marketing read about technology or philosophy and psychology. Make that last one a MUST do. If you’re in technology read about design and anthropology.

I think you see where I’m going.

Get out of your way. Get in someone else’s.

Be curious.

Be adventurous.

Be unsettled for part of your learning.

Don’t just be that person who’s done the same thing 100 times a year for 20 years. That’s how you get good at being a machine.

Get good at being a human. Explore. Read. Present. Participate. Learn.