I lack a formal education in design. I "taught myself" most of what I know through practice and hard work. The rest was supplemented by books and video courses.
The fact that I didn't go to design school used to make me feel like an imposter.
Today, I consider it to be a strength. It has allowed me to maintain my "beginner's mind" for longer than some of my peers.
Beginner's Mind (Shoshin) is a concept within Zen Buddhism that describes the advantages to approaching everything in life with a beginner's mindset. You've probably heard the oft-quoted Suzuki line that goes: "in the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few."
This isn't to say that going to design school is bad. Like anything, it probably has good and bad effects. I know that my lack of formal training can have downsides at times.
For instance, most of my career has been plagued by a chronic lack of confidence and trust in my abilities (some call it Imposter Syndrome).
For a long time, I tried to make Imposter Syndrome disappear. Now, I leverage it to my advantage.
Here's how I do it:
1. I lean into the beginner's mind. I read a lot. I experiment. I'm open.
2. I recognize that we're all imposters. Those who forget this fact and stigmatize it are doing harm to themselves and others.
3. I let the feeling of being an imposter propel me forward instead of letting it push me backward. When I feel that feeling, it's simply a reminder that I'm still on the journey (and always will be).
More on this in my next post.