Boston graphic design and ice skatingI’ve skated all my life, but have never been particularly good or comfortable with it. This year, rather than freezing on the sidelines while watching my daughter’s lesson, I decided to get on the ice too.

I’m actually in a different group from her — I’m learning hockey skating. In just ten weeks, I’m amazed at how I’ve progressed. I’m doing crossovers to the right and left, forwards and backwards. I can stop on a dime from my right or left side (well, a very large dime) and reverse direction quickly. And its a lot of fun.

So I wondered, why is it that after just ten 25-minute lessons, I was able to progress so quickly, when I haven’t really improved over the years? The answer is in the quality and style of the instruction. The instructor never asked what we were comfortable doing, she just told us what to do next. “Skate in a circle. Now reverse direction. Now do it backwards…” We didn’t need to do it well, we just needed to do it. With a little confidence and some faith that it would all work out, I did everything she asked. And after a while, it became more comfortable.

Then I made a connection to how I art-direct my designers. (You knew this would get back to graphic design, right? This is a blog about design.) I hire young, smart, and eager designers. I look for raw talent and energy, and then I dump my requests on them. It shouldn’t matter if the designer is unfamiliar with the client, type of project, software environment, or other technology required to complete the project. It’s all about first determining the best solution, and then figuring out how to get there.

And in my experience, we always get there. As long as the team has the confidence to learn a new program, design a web site for a new industry, or snowplow to a stop while skating backwards — there’s nothing that can stop us.

PS – if anyone wants to meet me at the Daly Rink some morning, let’s do it.