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Designing is like flying a kite.

Embracing your inner child during the design process.

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Think back to when you were a child. Rolling down grassy hills – getting knee scrapes, bumps and bruises like it was your job – doodling and creating just because it was fun! Each of those memories started with the first time – a moment where something new tied in with emotion – such a strong emotion it felt as if we might BURST… with laughter, tears, hope, even boredom. And not always, but when we were lucky, we would experience a moment of wonderment.

Wonderment - a state of awed admiration or respect.

For me, one of these moments was the first time flying a kite.

There I am at the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere with my dad – maybe 6 or 7 years old. Still sorting out things like coordination. We stood there staring at a tangled mess – the kite. From its past flying adventure, the strings and colorful ribbons twisted and turned into a chaotic mess, and it fell on us to fix it so it could fly once again. We plopped on the ground and got to work. Which ultimately turned into my dad fixing the kite and my 6 or 7-year-old brain-rattling kite questions to him… How does this work? What do I have to do? How long will it stay up in the sky? And my dad, being a patient man, answered each and every question that I blurted out. 

By the time I was out of questions, my dad was out of tangled strings. He held it up to the sky and asked if I was ready. I jumped from the ground with excitement. It was time – my moment to shine! I took the kite in hand and looked at my dad, already forgetting what step was next… “This is when you run!”, my dad kindly reminded me. I looked off into the field, down the steep hill, and took my first step, then another, and another. Soon moving as fast as my short legs could take me. Then I let go (and with a conveniently timed gust of wind) the kite took off! I started doing a little happy dance as I saw the colors glimmer in the sunlight.

Then, not even a second went by before I saw those very colors rushing to the ground. It was a pretty harsh crash landing. I picked up the kite and walked slowly back up the hill feeling defeated. I shuffled my feet to my dad, looking down at the ground, and asked him to try instead… I couldn’t do it. My dad bent down and reminded me that it was all a part of the process. Sometimes the kite will fly, and sometimes it won’t, but that doesn’t mean we give up. We can enjoy the crashes and the flights and we will learn something from both.

So I went again – this time with a fierce level of determination. I started running down the hill so fast, I felt as if my legs were on fire, and my arms started to feel lighter as the kite caught the wind. “Let go! Let go!” my dad yelled from the top of the hill. WOOSH! The kite swooped into the air, taking off once again.

I watched it flow to-and-fro gradually getting higher and higher into the sky. I couldn’t help but smile at the victory. I looked back up at my dad and he waved me to come back. When I made it to the top of the hill he told me to take the handle. When I did, I immediately felt the pull. It was so strong. It felt as if I would fly away with the kite but I grounded my feet into the soil and started playing tug of war. I found a rhythm, the give and take, and soon the kite was as high as the clouds. That moment I can only now put into words as a moment of wonderment.

Each of us has a memory like this. Something that sticks in our minds as we go into adulthood – it was an experience of success and failure, trial and error. And that is exactly what ties into the process of designing. 


How Does This Work?

Starting with a tangled kite of ideas requires diving into the details. You might get handed files, graphics, concepts – parts of something, but it isn’t always clear what that something is or needs to be. Then it is time to sit down and start to untangle each piece – thinking about what each item means on its own and questioning how they can interact with each other. Eventually bringing emotion, clarity and purpose to the elements you have to work with.


This Is When You Run!

Once everything is untangled, it is time to run with an idea. Create designs, mood boards, wireframes, whatever it might be to start to visualize your concepts. The creative juices start flowing, the excitement starts to rise as each piece gets put together like a puzzle to develop a cohesive style and messaging.


Crash Landing

From time to time, the inevitable happens – a crash landing. All of those thoughts, designs and concepts that took so long to untangle and run with don’t take flight. They might not tie together beautifully, it might not feel authentic to what you’re trying to accomplish, or you might have been running with one idea too fast and forgot to let go before you ran out of string. It happens. And it can be discouraging. But it is a part of the process – with that crash landing we learn something.


Take Off… Again

Then regroup. Pick up the pieces, walk back to the starting point and try again. Sometimes this step happens over and over again and over again. With each failure, we take a step towards success. We get pushed into another direction and ultimately try again. That much closer to creating something that will take flight.


The Ebb and Flow. To-and-Fro.

When everything comes together and finally takes off the momentum is mesmerizing. Finding a rhythm, a set of rules to incorporate individual elements, the directional concepts, and the needs of a project. Everything put together starts to soar and reach for the sky. And one can’t help but smile at the victory.


A Moment of Wonderment.

And when all is said and done, you can look back at where you started, and what it took to get to that point. Taking in the failure and success to bring into the next project. But most importantly taking a pause to feel the wonderment of what was just created. Embracing the feeling of a child who has experienced something for the very first time.

So much of your online presence or even being creative with your business is trial and error – you run with an idea until it crashes and then you pick up the pieces and run again. Take the time to question, redefine, develop. Start somewhere and don’t be afraid to fail. Go fly a kite, up to the highest heights – who knows where it will take you.

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