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October 5, 2010 / Robert Ross

Running…..on Empty?


Designers are by nature a fairly optimistic bunch. It’s kind of hard to be anything else when you live your life looking through the lens of possibility. For that defines the act of creation. The art of making something new where it didn’t exist before. It is the alchemistic activity of creation that drives most of us. And yes, that does include the occasional detour into the ditch!

Most of us have been raised with the story of the partially filled glass. Is it half-empty or half-full? The answer given is determined to be somewhat indicative a person’s outlook. Given the economic reality for most of us the last few years, I’d like to update this story to the Parable of the Empty Glass. Most people will walk by an empty glass on a table and casually pick it up and toss it in the dishwasher. This is an entirely logical act based on the understandable assumption that the glass been used and abandoned. On the other hand, there are those few who will stop and pause. What’s the deal here? Is it clean? Is it waiting for a refill? What is it going to be filled with? For those few it is a moment pregnant with possibility.

For the past month or so, I’ve been feeling an undercurrent of optimism around me. It hasn’t necessarily materialized in the marketplace, but it is there. A  long delayed project has kicked off, a former client calls out of the blue and wants another addition, a realtor friend specializing in short sales ecstatically announces a regular closing! It is almost like living in that moment when winter quietly transforms into spring. The first few drops of melting frost announcing the thaw. That doesn’t mean we won’t have a late frost, just that the long awaited warming has begun.

Somewhat related, I ran across a talk given by Nic Marks on TED entitled “The Happy Planet Index” In it he examines 143 countries across the globe in terms of by the happiness and well-being of their people, as opposed to their consumption. He reaches the startling conclusion that the countries with the highest happiness and satisfaction are also those that treat the resources of the planet well and focus on the well being of their populations instead of productivity. A very worthwhile 17 minutes to add some zest to that peanut butter sandwich you’re having for lunch!

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One Comment

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  1. Jeff Ribnik / Oct 5 2010 9:01 pm

    Glad things are starting to pick up!

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