This is an assignment for Creative Problem Solving course I’m taking online via Coursera and the University of Minnesota. Each week, students are asked to Do Something Different, and then reflect on the process.
Plan beforehand, and implement, something completely different that your roommate, sibling, parent or significant other (spouse, lover, BFF, etc.) does (always) that you don’t (ever)
Preparation and Execution
It was clear that my girlfriend Laura would be my significant other, but I wasn’t sure how to do something different that she did. I started by doing an attribute listing exercise about her.
I normally work in an office, whereas Laura normally works outside. I normally work with my mind or a computer, but Laura’s normal work is more physical. I normally work with businesses, she works coordinating volunteers. Laura’s work is very different to mine. Could I come and do a day working like Laura does?
Laura checked with her boss, who agreed that I could visit and even asked me to lead a group of volunteers.
I really enjoyed the day doing Laura’s job. I am used to a different working culture, but I had to act differently because I was working with volunteers. Normally I can ask my business contacts to work harder, or to do a better job – but with volunteers it is a very different way of working. It’s less about extrinsic motivators like money or job rules, and much more about the intrinsic motivation – doing something because of the thing itself. I have been reading about self-determination theory recently, and some of the ideas it explores about intrinsic motivation were really useful when working with volunteers. I tried to use relatedness, meaning an understanding of how actions relate to the bigger picture, and autonomy, the power to make one’s own meaningful choices, when I was working with my team. I am normally used to working in a different way, so this was very much outside my comfort zone. Laura was worried that I wouldn’t fit in well with the culture of volunteers, but she was really pleased that I did, and that it worked so well. Laura’s boss invited me to come back and do another day at the garden. I think I will.
It also helped me understand Laura’s work better, and to understand her better as a result.
This has been my favourite Do Something Different challenge so far.