Waking the Sleeping Genius Within a Designer

Waking the Sleeping Genius within a Designer

Creativity is an unteachable gift that exists in many who don’t know how to express it. Designers are artists and the motivation and inspiration has to be constant for them to be continually producing designs that appeal to their market. Being creative requires a constant, keen eye, a constant mode of thinking about what’s going to be in fashion.

There are ways to reignite the creativity in any designer. Not everyone is creative but everyone needs motivation from time to time. Following are some highlighted tips for those who want to be motivated or motivate others.


Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting. – Edward de Bono

1. Goal Setting

Why does one need to set goals? When beginning any day, task, event or even small events like a trip to the grocery store, any person will know that they have succeeded if they start with a plan. It doesn’t have to be a large plan but one that is clearly defined.

Goal Setting

Even if step one is “get out of the car” and step two is “walk into the door of the store“, two things have been accomplished on the list. So would be the case for a designer faced with a task that seems daunting and the first step is simply not clear. The first step could be:

  1. Find out what the client wants.
  2. Begin researching magazines, books, websites, or any media that might spark a beginning idea.
  3. Sketch out some ideas.
  4. Show the potential client your ideas and then let them lead you in a direction.

And off you go. Once the project plan is finalized, the designer can easily plan again, using the same techniques. Smart goal setting is simple: set goals that are within your reach and that you know you can accomplish.

Some will set goals, for example, that are so completely outside of possibility that they spend their life reaching for it and end up missing life. Be clear when you set your goals. The more you know about what you want to accomplish, the easier it will be to get motivated. The incentives live inside the details. So it should be obvious that an ambiguous idea is a failure from the start. Be clear and specific.

Many will set perfect goals, yet fail to accomplish them, so the big question is WHY?? You have to ask yourself why you want the goal. If you are setting the goal for someone else or to impress others, you are setting the goal for the wrong reason. You have to invest yourself in the success of the goal, which is a huge accomplishment. Simply starting with the goal and separating it into smaller pieces is the most important part of the process.

When you set your goals, make sure that they are challenging, but attainable. If the goal is completely out of reach – “One day I am going to fly to the moon” or “One day I will lose 150 pounds” are goals, but for many, these goals may be unattainable.

An overweight person may have health issues that will not allow for losing 150 pounds. Or, flying to the moon may be an amazing goal, but one has to be happy with the moving towards the goal and being satisfied with each small step on the way.

Finally, the most important thing about setting goals is attitude. If something is bothering you or you need to accomplish something, ask yourself: Can I really do anything about this? If the traffic is backed up and you are frustrated because you’re going to be late, ask yourself: Can I change this? Can I get this traffic to move? If the answer is no, then relax.

You can only pursue the things in life that you actually have any control over. If you are unable to change it, then just accept it and move on to what you can. You can’t change the unchangeable. It will steal your peace and ultimately your mental energy for the things that you can change.

The most important thing about having goals is having one. – Geoffrey F. Abert

2. Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP)

Neuro-linguistic programming techniques are incredibly helpful when trying to become motivated with a large task or a lack of motivation about something, especially designing. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (or NLP) is an extremely powerful concept. Many believe it to be the most accessible, positive and useful aspect of modern psychology and it can be generalized not just in business, but in every day life, relationships, social interactions and virtually any aspect of life.

It is believed that NLP can enable higher awareness and control of oneself, better appreciation of the feelings of others and personal behavior. NLP is a powerful enabling tool of Emotional Intelligence, an aspect of multiple intelligence theory. Neuro-Linguistic Programming can be very successful for stress management, developing self-belief, assertiveness and confidence.

Neuro-linguistic Programming

Neuro-linguistic programming (or NLP) techniques are very simple:

  1. Know what you want to achieve. What is it that you are attempting to do? Your outcomes need to be stated in positive terms. Your condition must be testable and demonstrable so that you can see tangible outcomes. The desired outcome must preserve the positive state of the present state.
  2. Have a sufficient and clear understanding to know whether you are moving away or towards your goal.
  3. Be flexible – know when you need to change and be flexible enough to do so. If what you’re doing isn’t working, then change it or amend it! The definition of insanity is ‘repeating the same behavior over and over and expecting different results!
  4. Don’t wait – take action NOW. “I’ll get to it” or any type of complacent behavior will never result in results. The most important concept of NLP is that action takes place today, because for those who will start tomorrow, tomorrow usually doesn’t come.

For more information, you can look at Neuro-Linguistic Programming and NLP.

If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something different.

3. How to Inspire, Motivate and Influence Yourself and Others

Inspiration is a tricky thing. Inspiring yourself and others is critical when designing because, without the input of your clients, you won’t have a beginning point. Maintaining open communication with your team will benefit them and you because it will insure that all are on the same page with the same goals.

Inspire, Motivate and Influence Yourself and Others

As a designer moves through a project, continue with your clients so that they can begin to see what the results are going to be and, if necessary, can offer input about changes or additions to the project. As a leader, motivating others requires that you radiate your excitement about your projects and believe in it.

In order to do that, here are five easy tips:

  1. Take time for yourself. People get so caught up in the day-to-day chaos that they aren’t able to stop long enough to allow the creative ‘juices’ to flow. Try taking one day per month to just do nothing. Turn the phone off and do something relaxing. Be with your family or read a book. Allow yourself to get bored, just for a day, and watch the creative ideas start to flow.
  2. Turn off the inevitable noise. Don’t check your email, Facebook, Twitter, or anything else that is clouding your thoughts. Give yourself room to actually think – don’t clog up the nonlinear side of your brain.
  3. Look outside yourself. As mentioned before, allow yourself time to look around – read trade magazines, websites, or even actual showrooms to allow yourself to plant seeds of creative thought.
  4. Also mentioned before, talk to your clients- share your ideas, allow them to share theirs and together, spark your creative thoughts.
  5. Recognize when you really get your best ideas. Researchers say that the best ideas usually come when they are least expected – in the shower, before you get up to get ready for work – basically any time that you are not focused intensely on something and your thoughts are clear. Recognizing your personal pattern is critical and it would be beneficial to keep a notebook handy or a small voice recorder so you don’t lose the thoughts.

Try not to become a man of success but a man of value. – Albert Einstein

4. Generating Powerful Thoughts and Ideas

In order to generate powerful thoughts and ideas, stop and consider those moments. They can be frustrating, especially if you have spent much unproductive time thinking and still getting nothing. In those situations, getting lots of external input to stimulate your mind is the best solution.

Generating Powerful Thoughts and Ideas

They can really help to break down brick walls and get your creativity flowing again. But, remember that not all kinds of external inputs are useful. Diversity allows you to engage fresh, new ideas, by giving you new perspectives or by creating connections while ideas cross-pollenate. The bottom line is to get diverse thoughts from other sources to stimulate your mind.

The person who sends out positive thoughts activates the world around him positively and draws back to himself positive results. – Norman Vincent Peale

5. How to Make Positive Changes in Yourself and in the World

Small changes will eventually bring big results. It was once said that anything done consistently over a period of 21 days would become habit. Not sure if this is true, but each small change will be part of the larger whole.

A person has to remember that his own power exists within himself. You might be wondering how you are going to find the time or strength to make any changes, even small ones.

Changes in Yourself and in the World

Life can become hectic and adding one more thing may feel overwhelming. It is imperative that you make the decision to find the time. One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to really listen to what your inner self is saying. It is your responsibility to find out what feels right for you. If your life isn’t what you want it to be, than change it.

Only you have the power to change your life, but you have to begin to trust your inner voice and believe that your mind is able to do what you want. This renewed sense of peace will bring realization about what power really does lie within you. If you truly are able to do this, you will uncover your hidden potential and unleash your true power.

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi

6. How to Discover Your Hidden Potential; Unleash Your True Power

So, where do you begin? You begin with a list of things to work on that will make you the person you want to be.

Discover Your Hidden Potential

Some tips include:

  1. Decide what you consider a “good” person to be. What exactly do you want to change about yourself? Observe others that you love or respect. Examine their qualities and traits and begin implementing this in your own personality.
  2. Surround yourself with those who you consider to be a good influence. Remember that no one is perfect, so don’t be judgmental if they make mistakes, but don’t give up.
  3. Take a course on being a Life Coach or find one for yourself. The outside perspective is always helpful. Check out different websites, like Certified Coaches Federation.
  4. Help others and it will increase our own feelings of self-worth and esteem. So many go through life without experiencing the blessing of doing this. It becomes contagious. Reach out to those who need it most especially.
  5. READ. Spend a great amount of time reading about topics that are beneficial towards your field and also about self-motivation. Being well educated and well informed will boost your feelings of self-worth and ability.
  6. Think before you speak. Be a good listener and trust from others will follow. When you have earned the trust of others, don’t take it for granted. Use it to help others become better people as well.
  7. Love what you do and do what you love. When you can admit that you are in need of something to fill that void inside of you, realize that only a true passion will return to you its rewards and fulfill that craving that nothing else can. Following your dreams with deep determination will help you to maintain your self-determination throughout each day. Remain conscious of each day. Your mind will determine what your body performs. Don’t be distracted by those around you or by the details of life.

Nobody will believe in you unless you believe in yourself. – Liberace

7. Good and Bad Procrastination

Be aware of good and bad procrastination. When you are working on something, you are not working on something else. There are three types of procrastination: do nothing, do something less important or do something more important. In any case, you aren’t doing what you want to be doing and that is procrastinating.


The issue with big problems is that they don’t promise immediate reward and cause fear that valuable time might be lost. And, facing the truth, big problems or tasks to accomplish can be terrifying.

You can’t tackle a big problem directly head-on. You have to approach it as a goal, with the smaller parts identified that will help you to reach the larger goal. You have to adjust the angle just right; you have to face the problem directly so that you can see and inhale some of the excitement that radiates from it so you can begin.

If you really want to work on something, no matter how big it is, you have to create a plan, or a goal, as discussed earlier.

Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the “someday I’ll” philosophy. – Denis Waitley

8. Taking Control of Your Life and Your Destiny

Destiny is an ambiguous term and involves the right combination between what you believe is the plan for your life and your part in taking control of your own life. Try dropping out once in a while and cease the unending participation in the life that you don’t’ want it to be.

There are a multitude of self-help books, videos and websites that can be used to help in your quest for greatness.

Taking Control of Your Life

Five tips to regaining control of your own life:

  1. Start by reorganizing your thoughts. You can’t see things the way that they really are if your mind is always focused on what could have been or “what ifs”. Work diligently on releasing negative energy.
  2. Stay on schedule. The value of this one thought cannot be stressed enough. If you have planned your day, even hour by hour, once the hour is up, leave what you are doing and go to the next item. The item that you left behind will be waiting for you upon your return. Stay in a routine that you can plan on and regain control over your time. If you find the valuable commodity of time out of balance, then start reexamining what you are doing and eliminating those things that aren’t leading towards your true goals.
  3. Find something positive, like favorite music or a daily quote that will inspire you. Positive reinforcement of the good things in your life will serve as a boost. Remember that, no matter what, life goes on.
  4. Surround yourself with positive people and circumstances, as much as possible. If there are those who negatively influence your feelings of self-worth or ability, then they aren’t deserving of your presence or time.
  5. Finally, and most importantly, don’t lose yourself. Don’t forget who you really are or where you came from. Being in control of yourself means being yourself, not what you think others want you to be. Only you are in control of your destiny.

Dreams are like stars…you may never touch them, but if you follow them they will lead you to your destiny.

What’s Your First Step?

The most important element, though, is you and only you. Without a real desire to make positive change in your life, all of the outside peripheral information that you collect will mean nothing. Step one is the most difficult and no one can take it for you. But, once you do, all of your dreams are only steps away.

Continue on your quest, no matter how far away it may seem, and never be afraid to ask for help, if you need it. But never give up on your dream for greatness.

One life is all you’re given and each day is the most valuable commodity that you are afforded. Once it’s gone, it can’t be regained.

So, what is your “Step One“?

Aidan Huang is a web enthusiast and ingenious blogger who loves all things design, interesting and technology. He is the editor-in-chief at Onextrapixel and have founded several other interesting blogs. Do keep in touch with him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.


  1. / Reply

    “The Genius Inside You Is Still Sleeping” – That is the tag line of my blog. You STOLE it??? Really???

    [kidding] :)

    Brilliant article buddy. Very Very well composed.

    1. / Reply

      LOL. I guess both our geniuses are quite similar then! Thanks bro. :)

  2. / Reply

    I love the way you combine the videos from TED with this article. I NEVER watched any video from TED before… Thank you!

    • Ben,
    • October 4, 2011
    / Reply

    Yah, lovely article. +1 for the TED embeds.. added a lot of context there

  3. / Reply

    Great article on overcoming designer’s block! thanks for sharing :)

  4. / Reply

    Nice article on Waking the Sleeping Genius Within a Designer


    • p thompson,
    • October 4, 2011
    / Reply

    Thanks… just what I needed to read :)

  5. / Reply

    thanks for sharing such detailed roundup. It’s was quite informative for me with some new concepts. Suggested video material is also worthy for looking and taking into consideration.

  6. / Reply

    Man… This is an awesome article…. Though we all know this… formulating it into a meaingfully written article deserves a lot of credit. I guess “Values” add a Big Bonus on a long run. Cos thats what define who we are and defines the respect that we get. And if one cant take control of himself (which is a very big task by itself) there’s no point of talking about destiny. We’ll roaming around in endless circles.

    I am sure I’ll read this few more times in the coming days. Thanks for the wonderful article Aidan :-)

  7. / Reply

    This is a great article! thank you very much. I find myself struggling with some concepts explained here, but this is extremely motivational, and has re-filled me with some more drive!

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