When Obama was in office he read 10 letters from his constituents every day. The letters were chosen by 45 staffers and 35 interns who sorted through thousands and selected 10 that were geographically diverse and represented a range of opinions. It may seem a small gesture, but Obama found this practice hugely beneficial. “These letters, I think, do more to keep me in touch with what’s going on around the country than just about anything else,” he explains.
For me, this is a lesson in process. Developing an approach with rituals and habits pushes us on forward – when we doubt our abilities or the magnitude of a task overwhelms us. Obama wasn’t put off by the thousands of other letters he wouldn’t be able to read. And while he might have worried if he’d be able to provide a meaningful response, he didn’t let this distract him from his task. He just chipped away at 10 letters a day.
They say that amateurs have goals, while professionals have process and I’m coming to realize the power in approaching design in this way. The work becomes a meditative act where we relinquish control. Just as we might slowly scan down our body, releasing the muscles one by one during meditation, so too do we follow our process – fully present at each stage of creative development.