“A good man would have done what you did, fighting bravely and courageously to help his country win. A great man who would have stopped what he knew to be wrong, no matter who was ordering it.” | King Sharaman, The Prince of Persia (movie)
“If you stop whatever you are doing and ask yourself, Am I happy? odds are, you won’t be as happy as you just were. The worst way to be happy is to ask yourself if you are happy.
The same goes for all kinds of desirable experiences.
The more you wonder if your relationship is the right one, the less likely you’ll find it is. When you’re at your best and everything is clicking, the moment you ask yourself, Am I in the zone? you are no longer in the zone, or at least not as much as you were. This is true in public speaking, athletic performance, the practice of medicine, and the bedroom.
Perhaps the most striking way to realize the experience-changing nature of judgement is via meditation. Any veteran meditator will have faced a situation that goes like this: you are settling deeply into a contemplative groove; your being begins to merge with your breath, or maybe even the universe; and then you wonder, Holy cow! Is this really happening? Am I really shedding my sense of self? Is this a transcendent moment? Yet the second you ask that question, it no longer is.”
This note from Brad Stulberg’s newsletter both made me pause and chuckle.
It reminded me of an Eckhart Tolle refrain – “Don’t take your thoughts too seriously.”
You never know if a good day is a good day anyway. Best to keep our focus on plugging away on things that matter vs. overthinking it.
After my first set of reflections from my time at Disneyland, I’ve found myself going back to that experience as I think about experience design. And, as part of that process, I’ve been learning a few interesting lessons about the Disneyland approach to user experience design.
One such anecdote is about the 30 feet rule about trash cans. Walt Disney was obsessed about park cleanliness in the 1950s. So the team studied how long people walk with trash in their hands before they try to get rid of it. The answer to that, it turns out, is ~30 feet.
Ergo – the 30 feet rule – you won’t need to travel more than 30 feet at Disneyland without seeing a trash can.
While this is an impressive and even inspiring story on the attention to detail in crafting a great user experience, what’s telling is what Walt Disney didn’t do. He didn’t –
Get frustrated about this behavior
Plaster signs all over Disneyland to not litter
Fine customers who littered
Play a recording over a loudspeaker to remind people to not litter
Employ helpers to supervise customer behavior
I know some of these are outlandish – and I’m exaggerating to make a point. But it is telling that he simply observed user behavior and crafted an experience around it vs. attempting to change it.
There’s a lesson in there somewhere for all of us.
The single biggest challenge when you’re attempting to drive change is to ignore the allure of the quick fix and instead go upstream to make the systemic change.
The quick fix is easy and feels good in the moment. Going for systemic change, on the other hand, sucks in the short term. Things inevitably take longer and we have to deal with being misunderstood while that happens.
However, easy come, easy go.
It’s the high leverage moves that survive the test of time.