Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Making a Difference

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
-William James

Most days when I sketch high-end blenders or design different versions of control panels for electronic devices, my excitement and passion for design is at an all-time high. It's my job, and for the most part I like it. If I wasn't designing products, I would be designing something--logos, or posters, or even clothes.

As a designer, I've struggled with my place in the world. How will I make a difference? I've lived with a mother who teaches special education preschoolers in poverty-stricken areas of the city, and been brought up in a mission-oriented church where I was taught to reach out to those less fortunate than yourself. My political stance leans towards the left, hoping (maybe too optimistically) that with a little bit of help from the government and from other Americans, people can raise their standard of living themselves, and ultimately their happiness.

So what am I doing to make a difference? Some days I'm not so sure. It seems so trivial to worry about the layout of the buttons on a $400 toaster. However, this week I have a new pep in my step. We are currently working on a surgical procedure. Yeah, we're product designers and know nothing about medicine--but as an ideation-based company we brainstormed on how to reorganize this procedure. (I can't say much more because of that darn non-disclosure thing I signed!) We will hopefully make it easier for doctors as well as less painful for the patients. When its finally put into action, someone somewhere will be more than grateful for the new procedure. Even if they don't know that this is an improvement, I'm sure that they wouldn't want to see (and feel) the alternative!

I know that this will be a struggle for me in my career path. Maybe I answer the calling within my design job, or maybe I find a volunteer position in my community. However, someday the desire to "do good" may intensify so much that I feel led to find a new direction. Until then, you can find me at my desk, sketching toothbrushes and toolboxes, searching for a way to change the world, one pen stroke at a time.


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