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Mindful : February 2018
offbeat approach to design thinking was a sur- prisingly useful model for attacking this question. That became clear in the summer of 2007, when they rolled out their prototype to a group of Stanford design students. At the end of the class, when Evans announced that it was time to go, one student stood up and said, “No, we’re not going anywhere.” When Evans asked why, the student replied, “Because we don’t have any other place to have this kind of conversation.” The course was a hit, and a few years later, the university asked Bill and Dave to create an expanded version that would be open to all juniors and seniors, not just design students. That class, one of the most popular electives at Stanford, has spawned a broad range of prod- uct-line extensions, including workshops and online classes for the general public and recently the New York Times #1 bestselling book, Design- ing Your Life. At first, I was skeptical. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been a how-to junkie, yearning in vain to find that one ineluctable truth that was going change my life forever. I’ve dabbled in all kinds of self-help workshops over the years, and after reading the works of everyone from Epicte- tus to Marcel Proust to Brené Brown, I doubted that a couple of Silicon Valley engineers, no matter how savvy, had anything new to offer on the subject. But I soon discovered, after meeting Evans and Burnett, that they weren’t interested in philosophizing. Their program is a practical blend of mindfulness, self-compassion, and creativity. “ We’re not trying to get you to do anything,” says Evans. “ We’re trying to build ideas and tools that give you access to you.” In essence, design thinking is about building your way forward by creating ideas and testing them in the real world. It’s a way of “sneaking up on the future,” explains Evans, adding that it works particularly well in situations where you don’t have a lot of hard data to rely on. The start- ing point is exploring who you are and what you want to do with your life. Many of us assume that there’s only one right answer to that question, but once you start looking at your life with a design- er’s point of view, a multitude of creative possibil- ities emerge. “ Life is not a problem to be solved,” says Burnett. “It’s an adventure to be engaged.” When Evans was a sophomore at Stanford, his dream was to become a marine biologist. But when that didn’t work out, he found that the adults he turned to for advice were as clueless as he was about what he should do next. “ Every- body just wanted to hold me accountable for an answer I didn’t have,” he recalls. “So I had to figure it out the hard way, by trial and error.” ABOUT THE AUTHOR Hugh Delehanty is a former editor for People, Sports Illustrated, Utne Reader, and AARP The Magazine, and coauthor with NBA coach Phil Jackson of the bestseller Eleven Rings. He investigated the emerging science of meditation for Mindful in December 2017. 60 mindful February 2018 vision