Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Indian, Engineer, Guy - Creative, Visual - Really??

As a 40 something engineer and Indian, I have always been proud of my 'Left Brainness'. In fact I would identify myself with my 'Left Brainness'. Every discussion, decision and thought was linear, logical and analytical. I believed that being Indian and an Engineer, I lacked the capacity to be visual and creative. Every argument was met with logic and every problem was analyzed. Words ruled over pictures.

Then I joined a company that visualized data. Where a picture meant a thousand words and an excel pivot table provided no insight. I marveled at the ease of use and the intuitiveness. The drag and drop interface that converted data into visuals. Yet, I struggled with presenting a story visually. My colors were off and borders were rigid. Was I doomed because of my 'Left Brainness'?

Deep inside, I didn't appreciate the impact that a work of art can have on people. My insights were functional, they got the message across but there was no emotional connection. I was presenting cold hard facts visually but not telling a story. I rationalized it by reminding myself that I was an Indian and an Engineer. This visual stuff was fluff.

We all have that voice in our head.
Then people started telling me that I was actually quite creative. This was news, but the voice in my head was there to logically remind me of my shortcomings. Luckily, for me I was surrounded by very creative people. People whose opinion I respected more than the voice in my head. Luckily, I sold a product that my customers would tell me had made them more creative. I knew it was possible. Could I believe it?

I read a few books that made a big impact.

I realized that I didn't have to be an artist to draw and I didn't have to be a painter to create. That perfection was the enemy of progress and taking the first step was more important than taking the right step. That mistakes were opportunities to learn as my 2nd grader's homework assignment said. That the journey in itself is the prize, as you end up where you were meant to be not where you thought you wanted to go.

It is weird how all it takes is a choice - A choice to try something new, be someone you want to be or to listen to the voice in your head. That choice leads to a belief. The belief turns to doubt but if you took that first step, then that action banishes the doubt. Since the journey is the prize, there is no failure and the beauty of the internet is that 99.9% of the people can ignore what you write but the 0.1% that 'like' your work, provide you the positive energy to keep going.

So I'll wrap up by saying - "Indian, Engineer, Guy - Creative, Visual" - Yeah Baby!!!

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