While working on my master’s in instructional design, I’ve had to hand draw two assignments. Few things trigger a sense of insecurity in me like having to draw something and share it with people.

I’m terrible at drawing. My handwriting is terrible. I communicate digitally, or, I will print something out. The extant of my pen-to-paper life are the obligatory thank you letters, birthday and anniversary cards, and barely legible notes on the scraps of paper on my desk.

Ok, so you now understand how much I hate having to share anything involving pen and paper.

A recent assignment required that I watch the two TedTalks linked below, and illustrate the process of making toast-just a small assignment to get the gears turning.

Draw more, together and Why people believe they can’t draw, and how to prove they can

Now, here is my masterpiece after watching the TedTalks:


It’s still terrible, I know, but it’s honestly probably the best drawing I’ve created since I was in my early teens. And that’s largely because I never try to draw.

The takeaway at the end of the video Why People Believe They Can’t Draw, and How to Prove They Can is that we all carry beliefs regarding our abilities. I can do this. I can’t do that. What if we choose to challenge our beliefs about what we’re incapable of doing? We can do more than we think we’re able.

While that’s a very encouraging sentiment, I believe that these videos  illustrate the power of universal processes and systems.

If you watched the video, you’ll have noticed that both artists start with certain things, a line, the nose, and go from there, and the process basically repeats itself with little variations to create more unique drawings.

In the book Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath, the primary claim is that whether or not you consider yourself creative, you can learn how to create “ideas that stick” through a systematic approach they discuss in the book. Indeed, research discussed in the book does point towards systematic approaches giving people with pedestrian knowledge the ability to create meaningful things. I would highly recommend this book, by the way.

It’s the same thing in the videos, start with the nose or the triangle, and go from there. It’s a recipe that works.

Of course there are points in the two videos that are valuable.We should try things that push us. Drawing is a great way to add a personal touch to presentation. We can gain more skills and become more valuable by not limiting ourselves to what we’re comfortable doing.

But my takeaway is the power of process and systems.



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