One outcome of the retreat is the conviction that community and radical collaboration are hugely helpful as women support each other in making changes in their lives. Another is the realization that we need that community to continue to hold us accountable over time. After the workshop, Jennifer realized how valuable design thinking could be – in small and large ways — for her and for others. So, she invited a group of women in and around Durham, North Carolina to be part of her ongoing life design group.
“I have had some big AHA moments as a result of working with these women. I realized that I had never properly done the Mind Mapping exercise prior to attending the workshop, and that it could really help me get unstuck and generate new ideas in my current situation. When I brought the mind mapping activity to my Life Design team, we combined this tool with the Life and Work View exercise. I talked about my Life View and Work View, and my team member drew this beautiful Mind Map! This has been a powerful anchor and compass for me so far.”
Jennifer’s Life Design team in Durham has been meeting since March 2018 and has already had incredible results. Two of the four members of the team have had significant changes in their careers as a result of the group’s work together.
One was despairing that she was “giving up on starting her own business” when an unexpected job opportunity arose. The group helped her reframe the opportunity as a way to practice newly acquired podcasting and storytelling skills. Rather than seeing the new job as copping out of becoming an entrepreneur, the group helped her transform her choice from “either/or” into “both/and” – working for someone else while honing her skills.
Another group member who owns her own marketing consultancy was hesitant to explore the Odyssey Planning activity because it felt as though she was “cheating on her business.” Jennifer met with her one-on-one and gave her “permission to dream, explore, and prototype.” She started prototyping work days that included spending more time volunteering for a non-profit project that really fed her soul. She noticed immediately an increase in engagement, energy and flow while applying her business skills in a new and challenging way. Through prototyping, she also discovered a love of tinkering with gadgets and is now thinking of signing up for an engineering class!
Jennifer says, “One of the real benefits of the book and the Life Design team is having a robust support system with a shared language, so no one is stuck for long or feeling alone while making big life and career decisions. It helps to combat dysfunctional beliefs together, and reframing with other’s input is so helpful.”
The group’s shared language is supported with artifacts. Another member of Jennifer’s group is a visual practitioner at VizualWorx.com, and she has composed incredible images for the group members as they have gone through the Life View/Work View exercises. These images can serve as supportive references in their decision making.
How does Jennifer’s group work?
The group meets for 3 hours about once a month;
The structure: first half hour is check in/social catch up, then the remaining time is a deep dive into the exercise they are focused on that month (e.g. Life View/Work View).
As a group, they decided intentionally to go slowly through the chapters and allow each person time to explore the exercises; they value the journey and the process and realize there’s no end point or final destination.
The success of the small group has been inspiring, and Jennifer adds, “The biggest part of my story is about spreading DYL to others and seeing the power of this method in their lives.” She has recommended the book to friends and clients, and has used DYL with the small business clients at SCORE.org, where she volunteers.
The community impact was further multiplied when Jennifer shared DYL with a client, who then recommended the book to a collective of Durham women’s entrepreneurship Mastermind groups called We Collective. Jennifer says, “I encouraged my client to create her own DYL team, so she reached out to her Mastermind group and the broader We Collective community. Over 20 women expressed interest, and I helped them get started. Seven new Life Design teams have now formed to support the women entrepreneurs in that community.” These new Life Design teams kicked off their initial meetings in June and July of 2018.
So, from one person attending the workshop in California, there are now over two dozen women in Durham who are applying the tools to support each other. The village of women who are collaborating and designing is growing by leaps and bounds!