The value of instinct

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Instinct is as important as intellect, it’s just harder to sell.
— Matt Stevens

Instinct is a tricky word. It can be ambiguous, fleeting, and invisible. It’s an intangible quality that you seek out, foster and proudly speak of — yet we often doubt it and sometimes dismiss it entirely. So what should we do with it?

I believe instinct is what sets apart the great from the good. Being instinctual means being yourself — how else can you set your personal brand apart within the saturated market of designers? Sure, there are styles to master, techniques to learn, growth to happen, etc. But underneath and inside of all those things is you. Your mind, your voice, your instinct. 

We’re not just talking about any and every instinct, though. It must be checked. 

There are two key ingredients that make instinct trustworthy: experience and mastery. My instinct as a first-year designer was not trustworthy yet. Almost a decade later? I have immeasurably more experience tucked away in the vault of my mind, as well as tens of thousands of hours of practicing and honing my skill. This means my instinct is not floating in the wind according to my whim, but rooted in the soil of expertise. It’s fueled by experience and mastery. 

So embrace it. Not to the detriment of research, strategy or reason — these things will always have a place in every project. But within those confines, act instinctually. It could be the difference between creating something that’s good enough, or creating something that exceeds expectations. 

Instinct is a necessary component of excellence. Embrace it.