The swingset manifesto

Nov 16, 2009

At age five, Melissa Foley and I became friends because she violated my personal manifesto. I spotted her on the swingset in my yard without permission. I, the oldest child in the family, had already arranged a rigorous permission system for swingset use. And this strange four-year-old, with all the courage I didn’t have, unflappably swung. I approached her, furious, reciting the Manifesto of the Swingset. “You didn’t ask permission and must stop. And leave.” It was shortly after we were best kindergarten friends.

However you feel about manifestos, you have one. Even if you’re anti-manifesto, a respectable position, you have beliefs you find yourself repeating over and over.

See also:
100 years of design manifestos from 1883 to 2009.

There are at least a handful of personal manifestos I have. These aren’t design principles or teaching methods, rather they’re items I use to move forward. Like my thoughts on the thank you, if you’ve spent any time with me, you’ve heard:

Delete sorry.

See also:
Steve Pavlina’s advice, Part 11 especially.

You’re busy, so you may start much communication with a variation of, “Apologies for the delay, I’ve been…” or “Sorry it’s taken me awhile, I’ve been…” This cathartic pardon may be good for you, but it only sets up an unbalanced structure for remaining communications. The receiver doesn’t want an apology; he or she wants a response. Sorry, but you must put a stop to it. First, get the apology out. You need to, as an email, for example, may have been sitting in your inbox for two months. Writing that apology sentence helps you write the rest of the email. But before you send, delete the sorry sentence. Don’t lead with apologies — get to the point faster and maintain the natural order of things.

Never run.

See also:
Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world from Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Because you’re busy, you probably find yourself rushing. Running from desk to meeting, to a dinner, to a lecture, to a train. But rushing is unnecessary. Missing the allotted time is only “missed” if you define it that way. If you match your metric of success to what some other timeline dictates, you’ll never be leading your own way. Of course, respect for others is foremost, so be respectful above all. But enter every situation on your own terms, without running. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, from The Black Swan, says something similar.

Ban busy.

Just be “excited" instead.

All of this being said, some days you’ll find someone on a swingset. And the manifestos get rewritten again.




Work

  • W.W.Norton & Company
  • Eye Magazine
  • Theme Magazine
  • Maryland Institute of College Art

About Liz

Danzico is part designer, part teacher, part editor. As an independent consultant, she traces the roots of her craft back to her parents. According to Liz, "Growing up at least a little information architect gave me an organizational advantage over my friends." More