"Practice empathy as an avenue to becoming self-aware." - Sabba Quidwai
Last year I spent a lot of time talking about design thinking and how it can be used to address the challenges and opportunities we see around us in the field of education and beyond. This year I’m taking the focus one step further and placing emphasis on how we can use the design thinking practice in our own professional lives to address the challenges and opportunities we face as individuals.
Design thinking is unique as it asks the user to view challenges and opportunities through the lens of empathy. When we talk about empathy, we often use it in reference of empathy for others. However, sometimes we need to take a step back and be able to empathize with our own selves. What do we think, feel, see and do? What drives us, what motivates us, what do we want to do with our lives? Taking these thoughts and ideas from our minds and onto paper, can be meaningful as a daily practice that allows us to be more self-aware about who we are what we want to do.
Last year, I integrated a design thinking approach to digital portfolios when working with students at the high school and college level. Often times students find themselves jumping through hoops, blindly fulfilling requirements and rarely taking a pause to reflect on their interests and passions.
For example at Keck USC, all of our students are there because they want to be healthcare providers, however being able to truly understand their “why” is what will differentiate each and every one of them from each other. We don’t wait until one month before graduation to begin building digital portfolios and professional learning networks, it begins on day one and it begins with having empathy for oneself. While there are many different activities that we do, one of my favorites is having students conduct, “interest interviews” with one another using the following three questions:
In these questions, you can replace “healthcare” with any field and begin the first round of interest interviews. Often times it helps to revisit these questions over a period of time, conversations will evolve and students will have a deeper understanding of what their interests and passions are, allowing them to pursue professional paths that ignite within them a drive, as Daniel Pink would say, made up of autonomy, mastery and purpose.