Seeking ‘click moments’ in a random world

I recently read an article about the Flâneur Approach to UX. Essentially, it said that great designers find time to wander while observing their surroundings. That article really resonated with me, because I love exploring. For example, over the last six months, I’ve never taken the same route twice on my London cycling commute.

The article also mentioned a book called The Click Moment by Frans Johansson, so I decided to listen to that audiobook.

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The Click Moment really resonated with me as well! It has a relatively simple message but drives the point home through dozens of real-world stories. Here are my key takeaways.

The world is random

The author recalled several classic stories of hard work and dedication leading to incredible success. For example, Serena and Venus Williams lived and breathed tennis for their whole lives and ended up being the clear leaders in that sport. Another example is chess prodigies. These are the classic “10,000 hour” experts that Malcolm Gladwell detailed in Outliers.

The problem is that these fields (where hard work equals success) are rarities because they tend to be areas where the rules change very slowly if at all. The real world is much more random and unpredictable.

This can feel discouraging (“If I can’t be guaranteed success after paying my dues, what’s the point?”) but it’s possible to use this to your advantage. It’s possible to expose yourself to lots of potential “click moments”, or opportunities, and thus be more likely to succeed.

How?

Don’t be a one-trick pony

I sometimes feel guilty for learning French, having fun, or traveling when I could be spending time working on a UX or programming project. Turns out I shouldn’t! I guess I knew this all along, but the book really made it clear to me. It’s not just good for your mental health to take a break every now and then, but it opens you up to serendipitous moments when you vary your experiences.

Johansson talks about Intersectional Thinking. Many innovations come from the collision of two completely different fields. It’s impossible to take advantage of intersectional thinking if you’re only focused on one thing.

Going forward, I’ll continue to pursue some interests as far away from tech as possible. And I won’t feel guilty about it!

But curiosity isn’t enough. You have to…

Act on your curiosity

Obviously, you won’t see any results if you don’t act on your curiosity. A lot of Johansson’s points in this area reminded me of the concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which was discussed in depth in The Lean Startup.

It’s far better to throw several things at the world and see what sticks than to carefully craft one ‘perfect’ thing and desperately hope that it catches on.

Going forward, I’m going to strive for shorter iterations on my side projects, soliciting feedback from users and stakeholders far more often, even if I’m worried that it’s not perfect (because it never is perfect).

But quick actions and short iterations can be easier said than done unless you…

Follow your passion

Sometimes a cliché can be repeated so often that it loses its meaning entirely. “Following your passion” is one such cliché. The Click Moment reminded me of the importance of doing things that are really fulfilling and meaningful.

Like the gambler who wins on his first bet, success can happen early thanks to the randomness of the world. Unfortunately, it can also take years and years. Passion is the ability to keep trying, to keep iterating, in the face of failure.

If you don’t have passion and you don’t have beginner’s luck, you’re not going to succeed.

The bottom line

To me, The Click Moment didn’t have a great deal of shocking insights, but it did explain a lot of seemingly counter-intuitive ‘gut feelings’ that I had. In other words, it didn’t change any of my mental models, but it did help me make sense of them.

Johansson drove the points home with a handful of very interesting real-world anecdotes.

I’d definitely recommend reading this book.

What did you think?

Have you read The Click Moment? Let me know!

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