The Discipline of Delight by Design

personal development storytelling Jul 26, 2021
image of delighted girl in front of hot air balloons

What the heck does delight have to do with making a difference?


Human beings are hardwired to be attracted by and embrace delight. Unexpected pleasure or joy is what makes moments memorable, even mundane or challenging ones. 

Ever had an especially great server at a restaurant? My wife and I went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant for our 25th wedding anniversary several years ago. When the server found out it was our anniversary, she sent a bottle of wine to our table and presented us with cannoli for dessert on the house.

I can't remember what we had for dinner, but I remember the moments shared above and the server's name. And we've been back to dine there many times since.

A customer service agent that added a gift card after a no-questions-asked refund recently delighted me. I've even been delivered bad news by care providers with such compassion and consideration that I've thanked and hugged them.

If you can't delight those you serve from time to time, you won't be serving them for long (and they sure won't tell all their friends about you). And while delight may come by accident, hoping it will arrive isn't an approach I've ever been able to sustain.

While sometimes a necessary tactic, hope is not a strategy

But can you design delight into the difference only you can make? 

There's no guarantee, of course. Creative work, even creative work done with, for, and on purpose, might not delight. There's too much uncertainty and too much beyond your control.

Delight can't be engineered to arise in every exchange, but a discipline of designing for delight creates the opportunity for it to arrive. 

And here's the thing, it's actually easy to do. Delight is simply a human response to being seen, heard, understood, and treated with dignity, respect, charity, or kindness. This happens so rarely that it's surprising. Surprise is the secret ingredient in the delight recipe.

So what if you stopped listing all the features and benefits of your product, service, cause, or idea and instead crafted a connection with such care and consideration that delight can't resist the invitation to swing by?

Scott Perry, Difference-Maker Coach at Creative on Purpose.

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