• Judy Olsen

Embracing my superpower

I have a superpower. Okay, it's not a superpower like invisibility, or time control, or anything like that. But it's something that comes in pretty handy and helps me be a better designer.

I was in my twenties when I finally realized, and accepted, what my superpower was. It was about two weeks before my wedding and I was going out to pick up lunch with a co-worker. We were in his car heading up Clybourn Avenue in Chicago when I realized I didn't have my seat belt on. I always wear a seat belt, but it was cold and I had a heavy leather coat on and hadn't realized I forgot to buckle up. We hadn't gone very far when I noticed and thought to myself, "I'd better put my seat belt on before we get in an accident." Next thing I knew, a guy pulled out of a parallel parking spot and pulled a U-turn in front of us and we T-boned him. I didn't even have a chance to reach for the seat belt. Everyone was okay, the car not so much—it was totaled, and I told myself from that point on I would pay attention to that little voice in my head every time it spoke to me.

Several years later I was standing in a very, very long line at O'hare airport after my flight showed "canceled" on the departure board, when something told me to go check the board again. I almost didn't listen because I didn't want to give up my spot in line when so many flights were canceled due to weather. I couldn't shake the feeling so I asked the person behind me to hold my spot for a second and I went and checked. Unbelievably my flight was back on! I narrowly made it to the gate to board and back home to help my parents move, thanks to my intuition.

Learning to trust in the "feeling" took years. It's really easy to second guess yourself and talk yourself out of what that inner voice is telling you is right—like I almost did at the airport. It's easy to convince yourself of something that you know doesn't feel right, when you want it so badly. But learning to trust it and pay attention to it can be empowering.

As a designer, my intuition is the superpower I rely most on. It's what gives me the ability to step outside of myself and put myself in my target audience's shoes—to understand how they think and respond to things. It's what tells me the right path to take, whether it's the main message in an ad or brochure, brand strategy, or design strategy. It's that feeling I get when I design the perfect piece. When you just knowthat it's right. It's like the strike of a lightning bolt filling you with electricity.

It's not all that hard to find someonewho can make something look pretty. But good design is so much more than that. Good design connects with your audience while delivering your message. It's more than just a pretty picture, and to get it you need a designer who has the ability to understand your audience and what makes them tick.

So what's your superpower?

#intuition #superpower #graphicdesign #innervoice

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