I'm currently reading a book about introversion called Quiet. (I'm an introvert of the non-shy variety, but that's another subject for another day.) There is a passage in the book that hit me right between the eyes:
[The Orchid Hypothesis] holds that many children are like dandelions, able to thrive in just about any environment. But others … are more like orchids: they wilt easily, but under the right conditions can grow strong and magnificent.
-Recounting an article from The Atlantic by David Dobbs
I think it's a powerful metaphor on a couple of levels. The first is from my time in an agency where everyone used to get whacked off by the boss-lawnmower. Only the dandelions would come back for more, and it showed in the type of people who thrived there: tough, merciless, predominantly male, egocentric people (who I happen to love). But one of the major reasons I decided to leave is because of the people who couldn't handle the environment but were just as talented.
These orchids were people who later thrived at other studios. They left quickly or slowly, but when they left they invariably found success working in better environments to deal with their more sensitive tendencies. I grew to believe that losing these designers and account managers and producers created an agency that was lacking trust. And lacking humility. And lacking women, minorities and unique backgrounds.
The second level is more personal to my values. The biggest contribution I want to make as a UX designer is giving people who would identify themselves as "orchids" safe passage to their goals. The "dandelions" will make it through this world fighting against any obstacle. But that makes those of us who fight rather hard-shelled. While we are fighting, others are giving up and finding their talents other places.
I'd rather create a nice place for all people to thrive right where they are. I think that's my ultimate value as a person and as an experience designer.