Visual I.D.E.A.s: The Japanese philosophy that got me over perfectionism

In this issue: a key practice to change how you communicate, the Japanese philosophy to get you past perfectionism, what you see in the mirror, and the reality of how work-life fit together.


A key practice to change the way you communicate:

"Intentional Listening"

Most people listen to build a "straw man's argument" — distorting what someone is saying to attack it easier.

But this strategy burns trust and cooperation pretty dang quick.

Instead, try building a "steel man's argument" — forming the strongest version of what someone is saying before engaging with it.

But to do this, you have to listen to understand.


This idea is at the core of my creative philosophy…and it might help if you struggle with perfectionism as much as I do:

Quote from Ernest Heminway, “A Farewell To Arms”


…a Zen aesthetic ideal that celebrates flaws, recognizing the beauty in imperfection and incompleteness.

The practice of wabi-sabi is the perfect (🥁) counternote to perfectionism.

You’ll find this philosophy practiced in the Japanese artform, kintsugi.

In kintsugi, pottery is intentionally broken, then repaired with a golden lacquer to highlight its damage.

One thing I’ve learned from 20 years of teaching and making 400+ visual metaphors is that art isn’t about being accurate. It’s about being interesting.

And what makes you interesting is your unique combination of imperfections and flaws.

Instead of trying to airbrush them away, highlight them.

Your imperfections are the feature, not the bug.

When you’re ready, consider checking out Thinking in Visual Metaphors. Registration for Cohort 4 closes in less than 2 weeks.

This issue of Visual I.D.E.A.s is sponsored by:

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Reflect on your potential.

This image brought on some thoughtful reflections (🥁) on LinkedIn…including the dangers of narcism.

I try and steer away from leading people on how to interpret my visuals, but I do love seeing thoughtful conversation that arise from the topics themselves.


It's never a clean fit (and that's okay)


I may or may not be a little obsessed with ramen 😆 and now I’m obsessed with this comic book cookbook by Hugh Amano and Sarah Becan!

“Let’s Make Ramen” beautifully illustrates recipes and concepts on everything ramen. It’s neat to see visualizing done with such laser-focused precision.

If you know of any other books like this, please shoot me a reply! 🤓

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