Grow Your Design Skills On and Off the Court

Lessons Learned from Steph Curry

It’s incredible to most people what Steph Curry is capable of doing. He can dribble around other players, execute acrobatic twists and turns, finish shots in dramatic fashion, all without even breaking a sweat (so it seems). To most people, what Steph Curry does seems “impossible.” He is an artist on the court and he is one of the most creative basketball players ever.

What people don’t see is the years of practice Curry has endured to get where he is.

Work Doesn’t Start and Stop on the Court

Whether it’s basketball, painting, cooking, or any other creative profession, witnessing true creativity is inspiring to others.

“How did they come up with that brilliant idea? … How did they create that masterpiece?”

What people don’t see is the boring stuff — the years of practice the artist has endured to get where they are. For years they have been exercising their creative muscles so that in the most critical moment they can execute at their best.

The most creative people are those that focus on fine-tuning their craft. They “hit the gym” and flex their creative muscles regularly to be sure they’re skills are the best they can be.

💪 Your Creative Muscles and 📈 as a Designer

In the same way that athletes like Steph Curry lift weights and run drills to get better/faster/stronger, designers should be practicing and constantly striving for perfection. Most designers are told to focus their learning on things like color, form vs. function, typography, balance, etc. which are all critical for designers. However, there are other skills that are not always discussed that distinguish the good from the great. Here is a list of other areas designers can focus on to get better:

  1. Always Be Learning — Learn a new program, learn to write code, or learn to prototype your UI. The important thing is to constantly be learning something new. You’ll be surprised how learning new tools and techniques can feed back learnings into your other areas of work.
  2. Make Mistakes — If you don’t fail you don’t learn. Try things out, make mistakes, and take the lessons with you to future projects.
  3. Practice at Home — Work on side projects to learn things you might not be able to learn in your day job. Never built one of your designs before? Go home and learn how.
  4. Surround Yourself with People that Inspire You—The best way to become the best is to learn from the best. If you’re not inspired by the team you’re on, find a new team.
  5. Speak the Lingo — Communication is critical for designers! Learn to speak the language of your coworkers. Practice pitching your work and get feedback early.
  6. Ask Questions — When you don’t understand something, ask and learn from someone who does.
  7. Be Humble — Nobody wants to work with someone who’s too arrogant. Learn to admit when you’re wrong.
  8. Be Disciplined — Try to find the lesson in everything. Even when a project may seem tedious or uninteresting, find the lesson in it and produce the best work you can.
  9. Don’t Turn Down a Challenge—take on projects that seem intimidating or daunting at first. These are generally the projects with the most opportunity to learn.

If you haven’t mastered your craft “off the court” you will hit a wall when confronting a challenge. Push yourself harder, flex your creative muscles, find your inner Steph Curry, and get better at what you do.

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