Deep Thoughts By Jack Cole
Originally written and posted on Motivate Design’s YouX™ blog.
For those of a certain age or for those who are fans of comedy, you may be familiar with the terrifically-bizarre and obscure Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey. These segments were featured on Saturday Night Live in the early-to-mid 1990’s. If you’re not familiar, I highly encourage you to go here and spend a few minutes experiencing it. You’ll be left both scratching your head followed by thinking that it is slightly dumb, and then oddly smiling at the end.
These segments were top-of-the-head musings by comedy writer Jack Handey (yes, he is a real person!). At the time of their airing, I was an adolescent staying up late partly because I loved the crazy skits and comedic actors featured and partly because I was staying up waiting for my Dad, Jack Cole, Sr. to come home from his second side job as a delivery man.
Those Saturday night memories and experiences watching Deep Thoughts with my Dad continue to stay with me to this day and have in many ways shaped who I am both personally and professionally.
A statement like this may seem strange – how can I make a connection between watching a strange comedy skit with my Dad and then say it made an impact on me as an adult?
Well first, I have to tell you a little bit about what I do at Motivate Design. In celebrating my five-year anniversary at the company, I have recently made a shift in my day to day role going from a UX Design Director managing project teams to taking on more client experience activities. In part, this new role involves getting to know our client partners personally as we begin to embark on a project together – understanding their challenges more deeply and then to challenge each other to shift perspectives arriving at the best insights and solutions for their customers. In taking on this role, I’ve taken some time to pause and consider: “Who and what are we all about as a company? What is it that we do that our clients come to us for again and again? Why do we do these things and how does it make a difference?”
After months of dragging my feet and not-so-gentle nudging from my CEO and friend Mona Patel, I finally started to arrive at the conviction that we at Motivate Design represent a core mindset that is infused in everything we do. We Reframe.
On a daily basis, all of us at Motivate push each other to see and embrace challenges as wonderful opportunities to discover new ideas and solutions both big and small.
This direction was a natural path to pursue because not only is it a foundational aspect for adopting a creative life and design thinking in general, but it also aligns with Mona’s book written just a couple years ago entitled Reframe: Shift the Way You Work, Innovate, and Think. Just like Mona, her message of Reframe thinking is equal parts relatable by all and inspirational at the same time.
This is the Reframe Mindset - something that all of us at Motivate continually practice both individually and collectively. We encourage each other to think beyond the binary set of answers - the limited black and the white. Instead, we challenge ourselves to push through and explore the grey space in between. We do this because it’s not just our job as UX professionals serving clients in a wide array of industries, but it is who we are as Motivators who seek to inspire, challenge convention and act as catalysts for the people we interact with on a daily basis.
In thinking about what it means to be a Motivator, it made me think about the people and experiences in my life that shifted the way I thought and saw the world. The people who either by word or example left an impression on me. The people who showed me how to do things with a purpose while embracing the idea that thinking differently is actually a good thing.
Enter the two Jacks… Jack Cole, Sr. and Jack Handey. In the first Jack, I saw a man in my father who nearly every day demonstrated what hard work, dedication, and treating people with kindness and respect meant. The second Jack is a man I’ve never met but admired off-centered perspective and almost child-like comedic view on life weekly which helped to rewire my brain and embrace at an early age the idea of asking, without reservation, “What If?” or “Why not?”
Circling back to the current day, I can say that it is people like the two Jacks and so many others that have influenced who I am today and what my purpose is at Motivate Design.
As a Motivator working with clients and team members alike, I know that my responsibilities in helping drive great experiences lies in being that catalyst for others. I can rely on my own experiences and influences melding lessons from both Jacks to spur the next generation of hard-won, slightly off-kilter ideas without apology that can potentially translate into solutions that make our everyday lives a little bit better and, maybe, make us look back and smile.
To all of the Creatives out there, I encourage you to hold on to the lessons and experiences you’ve gained that got you to this moment as they are the tools and lenses that you can use to truly make something of value both for yourself and for others.