I’ve made no secret of my depression, or my ADD, or my imposter syndrome, or my fight with my inner critic and the self doubt that I face regularly. I share and am open about it for one simple reason – it’s a part of the human condition that need not be stigmatized. That we can no longer afford to stigmatize. That we all must learn to overcome, whether for our own good, or for our family, friends, or coworkers.
While we should all learn to understand and accept it, depression shouldn’t be normalized as persistent as it is soul crushing. It causes unnecessary harm to everyone who suffers through it, and those who surround them. I know firsthand what it has done to myself, my wife, my startups, and indeed the world over the years. So much personal and social value has been lost and so many opportunities have been missed, while I have been mired in that fog of darkness. In that cold, dark, lonely, fear filled nighttime of the soul.
When we have the knowledge, the science, and now the awareness to improve the lives of so many as well as the richness of society as a whole, why don’t we do better? Why don’t we solve the mental health crisis once and for all, for everyone, individually and collectively?
The first ‘why’ is the stigma, which is why I’ve been open about it for so long. I had conversation with ADHD Coach Pete Quily at Northern Voice in 2007, and his insights and encouragement showed me the need and helped me connect it as one small but mighty aspect of my life purpose — to heal, unify and orchestrate a #betterworld. In whatever way, small or large that I can.
While fighting my own depression and other personal demons I have… ugh, what a terrible word. Our “demons.” How we exaggerate them and eviscerate our own godliness. Language is so important but even I misuse it frequently, even when sharing deep life long learnings that are part of every one of my days.
These aren’t demons. They’re not even challenges. They are things that happened, or often things that didn’t happen. Things for which I associated negative emotion and through the experience of which I made incorrect assumptions based on that negative feeling and mindset. You see, we each get to choose what events, words, deeds and misdeeds MEAN to us. This is at the core of Buddhism – mindfulness, presence, prayer (setting intention as well as manifesting through the “power” of your God) and most especially, psychology and psychiatry in treating depression.
This is where the Serenity Prayer really hits a home run as a global, cross religious truism:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.
What a powerful sentiment. Amazing truly. In many ways, it is reminiscent of a core set of operating system instructions for our interactions with each other and ourselves. Just as with the golden rule:
Do unto other’s as you would have them do unto you.
Regardless of your beliefs or religion or culture, participants in a civil, harmonious society know these sorts of statements to be true. Maybe we should transcend the boundaries of the concept of civil society and strive for a “harmonious society?” Might that be possible, that we could strive for something even greater than civilization? Given what we have attained so far, it might not be such a bad idea to strive for an even higher model of interaction for society.
The point here is depression is normal. We need to be able to talk about it, and empathize with those going through it. We need to improve how we facilitate people discovering their own solutions. We need improve the distribution and acceptance of all evidence based solutions that produce real results. IMHO, we need to urgently work together to get beyond this tremendously costly societal challenge whether we want to sustain civilization or transcend it in the creation of a Harmonious Society.
If the internet has been declared a fundamental human right by the UN, access to knowledge and all forms of healthcare, especially mental health care in all its approached, should also be foundational rights for all humanity. Literally, this is for the good of society. This is for your best interests as well as mine. It’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up. In today’s interconnected, interdependent society, if everyone is better off, I am better off, not lesser for it.
But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself, so let’s start simple. We all must accept and appreciate that depression is a normal part of the human condition.
If you care about someone or something, or if you want to create something – art, a startup, a movement, a family, anything really, you will face struggles. You will be challenged. You will need to overcome adversity. You will have to learn from others and figure things out on your own.
You will lose. You will make mistakes. You will have people say mean things to you. You will face acts of God. You will be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bad people may do bad things to you. You will feel mad about it. You will feel sad about it. You will undoubtedly face a moment where it will be easier to escape or wallow in the darkness then to face it, then bouncing back – learning more and taking the next action you need to take in setting your mind, and the world right in the face of it.
The thing is, as I’ve found, you not only get to choose what it means to you, you get to choose what to do about it.
With love, knowledge, care, and the support of friends, family and society, I see a day where no one need dwell in depression excessively. Where depression is normal, but suffering alone in it is not. Indeed there are lessons that come from depression too as you may have found in some of my thoughts in this post today. So it will still arise and persist, it just needn’t persist for long. For all these reasons and so many others, this is why I have found so much personal freedom and liberation and power in “The Four Agreements“.
Be impeccable with your word
Don’t make assumptions
Don’t take things personally
Always do your best
— Paraphrasing Don Miguel Ruiz
We’ve got a long way to go towards a fully harmonious society. Maybe 50, maybe 100 years, or maybe never. Or maybe something really bad happens and our leaders, and our society as a whole, wake up and start taking right actions and following the principles of the eightfold path and the teachings of their own gods. Maybe then, we can all be better off in a #betterworld.
But let’s start simple, let’s accept that depression is a normal part of the human condition, but stigmatizing it isn’t and should not be any longer. More so, let us all commit to do whatever we can to help more people find a path through it so they can get the most of life for themselves and for the betterment of each and every one of us.
It is clear that we all need to better understand what our market is talking about and who are the people influencing our market so we can design better products and share our value with potential customers. But how do we figure out where to start? How do we sort through all of the noise to find the people and conversations that matter most to our organization? How do we optimize our engagement for maximum impact with limited resources?
In the first episode of 2016, Chris Heuer is joined by co-host Dave Gray of XPlane to talk with Marshall Kirkpatrick of Little Bird to dive into a conversation about the contextual segmentation and analysis of a company’s market to effectively engage in influencer marketing. In this conversation, we’ll look at graphs of Twitter friends around companies and markets, analyze their connections for opportunities, and talk about how you can combine data analysis at scale with authentic communication and creativity in your work.
We will also answer your questions! So join us on Blab this Friday January 29, 2016 at 10am PST for an in-depth conversations into the influencer’s role in customer experience design and how we can better engage them to improve the experiences we are providing and increase awareness of what you have to offer the market.
Guest: Marshall Kirkpatrick
Marshall Kirkpatrick is a co-founder of Little Bird, a social media marketing and research technology that does contextual segmentation analysis of target markets, online audiences, and company stakeholders, using social graph analysis. In this episode of CXDNow, Marshall talks with Chris Heuer and XPlane’s Dave Gray about how you can use knowledge about the different contextual segments relevant to a company to optimize your work, in marketing or design, for maximum relevance, efficiency, and impact.
Sponsored by XPLANE:
XPLANE is a strategic design consultancy focused on addressing complex challenges on the inside of organizations. We leverage visual thinking, people-centered design, and co-creation to design solutions that accelerate the way our clients envision, explain, and realize their goals.
CXDNow is back for season 2 of our series focused on understanding and successfully executing on customer experience design so that your organization may better serve, and ultimately win your market. In season 1, we focused on the fundamentals of CX Design through conversations with CX leaders such as Brian Solis, Risto Lahdesmaki and Tom Illmensee among others. As we move into 2016, we will be bringing you stories from more leaders around who will share their deep insights and practical advice in pursuit of advancing the field for the benefit of all.
The time for customer experience design is now! In this final episode of our premiere web series CXDNow, host Chris Heuer interviews Tobias Rose, writer, designer and entrepreneur. Tobias has led a fascinating life, from his early professional life in the wine industry to a chance meeting with a monk who asked for his help with a reservoir for their village that lead to his career as a CX Designer. In the first episode we learn of Tobias’ origin story. How his trip to Cambodia resulted in a nonprofit that forever changed a small village and the people who live there. It’s a fascinating tale of one designers realization of the importance of empathy in all we do. Through his story you will see all of the key characteristics that are necessary for someone who wants to be a leading customer experience designer.
It a longer format part two, Tobias is joined by Sarah Grzybowski from IBM’s Journey Designer team to discuss the future of CX design, what we need and what we see coming next. We get some sneak peaks into the IBM Journey Designer product and its future as a management dashboard to optimize the customer experience across their journey. It’s clear as we discuss in this episode, that technology is only part of the solution. What’s really needed is a greater depth of empathy across the entire business landscape, so that we finally embrace radical customer centricity instead of merely paying it lip service.
In this our last episode of the series one for fall/winter 2015 we were able to touch upon many of the key pieces of advice that everyone needs to be a great CX designer. We will be posting some more recaps of this content and different educational snippets over the course of the next several weeks. Join us again in January 2016 for our next series and a further exploration of customer experience design now. Thank you so much for joining us and special thanks to IBM Commerce and the Journey Designer team for their support of the series.
Need help creating design moving customer experiences? IBM Journey Designer enables you and your team to collaboratively visualize journeys, set shared marketing goals, and create and refine tailored experiences for dozens of priority segments. Learn more on this blog post or try it at no cost at ibm.com/journey-designer.
Tobias Rose Interview – From Global Change Maker to CX Designer
Tobias Rose & Sarah Grzybowski – What’s Needed, What’s Next