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Before we can intelligently design and create – whether an invention, a building, or a life – we need a clear sense of essential needs or requirements to guide our actions. As has been said, we are wise to always begin with an end in mind. Without this context or frame of reference, we will tend to act and create haphazardly, and achieve beneficial results only by chance.
This idea is taught in most schools of design and engineering. And yet, the needs and requirements we uncover and pursue as creators can be superficial, far from essential or penetrating, and less apt to lead to true innovation or breakthroughs in human value. Too often, we seek, see, and fulfill only limited requirements or expedient outcomes. And thus, we leave or give to others the opportunity to see more fundamentally into life’s many needs and requirements, and the chance to surpass us and our work on the back of their deeper or more enduring insights.
Life Is Full Of Options, But Which – Or What – Is Most Essential?
There are of course countless examples of this – new designs, technologies, and products that radically upend existing and more narrowly or poorly grounded approaches – and I will leave you to pick your favorites. One of mine is the case of homebuyers, who often begin with very fixed ideas about the type of home they want, but often can be led in wholly new directions by exposure to alternatives that better understand and reflect or express their essential needs.
As I suggested, a way to see, design, create, and live more essentially, and thus more intelligently and innovatively, is to delve fundamentals – when approaching an immediate challenge or presented set of requirements, and more broadly. By extension, the ultimate expression of this process is to seek and pursue our or other’s most essential needs, in any area or across all areas of modern life and endeavor, and perhaps helping to re-create and eclipse how life is structured today entirely.
So often, in life and in the designs we create, we begin with the beginning only in mind, or only a few first steps – and not the end or full context and impacts of our actions.
To some degree, this is natural. It is genuinely difficult to predict our final ends or see our total impacts with high accuracy. But this fact does not counter the idea that we should clarify and pursue ends, rather than focus on beginnings and first steps. As we can validate for ourselves, there is real power in having our ends in mind before and as we act, even if they prove simplistic in hindsight and shifting over time.
Three Essential Qualities For The Mastery Of Creative Change full size
As a practical matter, to begin with our ends or outcomes in relatively full view, we require a few things. One is of course vision, a natural and practiced ability to imagine change and see how actions might unfold to produce change. This capacity to envision depends in part on comfort with expression and creativity, and in part on patience and a willingness to pursue the details of imagined change.
This post is a re-print of an article I published on my Mark Lundegren blog, but thought it might be interesting to people who enjoy thinking about shapes and forms, and their power to alter our quality of life.
My title may have led you to think I was going to argue for or against Rubenesque body types, or discuss a fitness insight from my work for HumanaNatura. But I actually want to share a strategy insight and talk about the curves of our lives and groups, rather than those of our limbs and torsos.
Though few of us have considered the idea that our lives and social settings can have a distinct underlying curve or shape, these natural patterns do indeed exist and are discoverable by us. What we might call our life-curves are real and tangible reflections of the way we live and, in particular, how we pattern our actions against our progressive potential. In theory and practice, life-curves prove quite powerful, in the results they create for us, and as a tool of personal and group strategy and aid to higher quality of life and functioning.
The Core Idea
The core idea of natural curves is that elemental patterns can be shown to underlie all of our lives, even as these patterns remain hidden to us. In essence, our personal life-curve is the overall direction that our life or life trajectory takes over time – again, against our progressive or developmental potential. In practice, understanding and seeing our life-curves is a lot like learning about climate. Like the larger conditions that span and influence the weather we encounter each day. life-curves are subtle but ever-present shapes behind the scenes, but ones that are equally accessible and even equally obvious once grasped.
The idea that no building is an island may strike you as obvious.
And yet, our modern design and construction practices often treat each building as if it were an island unto itself…with designers, builders, developers, and building owners indifferent to and sometimes even contemptuous of each new projects’ surroundings and history.
It’s not hard to understand why this is the case. In this time of relatively unbridled and unexamined egoism and status-seeking, our norms and incentives encourage the creation of buildings that are different and even contrary to those around them – buildings designed first to produce esteem for their creators, rather than to enhance our naturally interdependent life together.
If Only Life – And Building – Were This Easy!
At the same time, the advance of construction, materials, and design technologies now allows many new building techniques and practices to be pursued. And whether for self-serving or more principled motivations, some of us are driven to use and test these new outer limits of design. But often this is done opportunistically or idealistically, and with little regard for the practical impact of our building experiments.
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Health & best wishes,