Own my work? I’d rather lease it

I’m hoping that the following helps people in the same position as I was/am. It’s something that works for me, and I wish I’d known and practised it a long time ago.

Over the past 15 years or so, I’ve worked in agencies, start-ups, non-profits and higher-ed institutions as a UX/UI designer. In that time I’ve come through various periods of depression and anxiety with some of those instances were directly related to work and colleagues. Whilst working with these organizations I’ve known two types of people (including bosses). Those that allow you to do your work and respect decisions based on knowledge and experience, and those that need to have input to justify their position. Whilst growing as a designer, and journeying to where I am today, the latter have forced me to question myself, my self-worth and my place in this industry.

I currently work in a highly collaborative environment with lots of moving pieces to projects, with many colleagues involved in different practices to produce the overall outcome. In an environment such as this, I’ve found one thing to stop anxiety early and which gives me peace in my work.

I’d rather lease my work, than take ownership of it.

Lease: a contract by which one party conveys land, property, services etc to another for a specified time

I do my best work, and pass it to the client/stakeholder. It was never mine to start with. I never owned it.

A useful phrase here is one that has been said by many:

“Fall in love with the problem, not your solution”.

It’s has taken me years to get to this mentality, and is such a relief to remember when I start to get protective, or even to bake in to my thinking at the start of a project. If colleagues and stakeholders choose not to accept the results of my knowledge and experience, then that’s up to them.

The one caveat I hold is that if I think I’ll still be annoyed over someone over-riding a decision I’ve made in a years time, then I’ll fight for it. I haven’t come across that circumstance yet.

I take great pride in what I do and what I’ve achieved, but at the end of the day, it’s only work and that takes second place to my health, and should do to yours too.