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In Her Own Voice: Trusting The Path

Carrie Crespo-Dixon read an article about work over a decade ago that stuck with her and propelled her interest in Design Thinking in the workplace. She attended a workshop in San Francisco in February 2019, and shares her story of trusting her path. 

The latter half of 2018 was physically and emotionally draining for me. My mother had a health crisis and I spent the second half of the year arranging for her long-term care. I had been in a professional rut when my mother’s health crisis occurred. Over the past three years, I experienced two layoffs in a row, and the birth of my twin girls was sandwiched in between those jobs. After my second layoff, I decided to pursue a Master’s to expand my skill set in my career area, give myself the time to reassess the path that I was on and try to figure out why there were so many potholes in my journey.

Graffiti/Public Art in my neighborhood. I took this picture in October 2017. I had my head up!

I talked to everyone about the path I was on and asked about their experiences. I visited a friend who told me she had been promoted at her new job. She had been miserable in her old role and was determined to find a position where she felt appreciated, had room for growth, and was also close to her home, and she indeed found exactly that. She encouraged me to write my own dream job description. When I did, I lingered on describing the ideal conditions I wanted in a work environment rather than the actual job itself.

I reapproached my job description by imagining where I wanted to be ten years from now, a process I now call  ‘climbing down the ladder.’ The first task in the DYL process is defining the meaning of work and life to you – your workview and lifeview. The exercise was groundbreaking for me in two ways: 1) it demonstrated the story I was telling myself about work and 2) it showed how simple my Lifeview had become. This launched me into the Design Thinking process, starting with the first step of Accept.  I had to accept that my Work View and Life View did not align, which  was leaving me conflicted and discontent.

Carrie attending the DYL for Women Workshop

My Work View was, in a word, hostile. I recognized I often put myself on the defensive at work unnecessarily, and it reminded me of an article I had read over 15 years ago. The concept that work was supposed to provide personal fulfillment is a modern phenomenon which creates an “inescapable degree of conflict between employer and employee.”  How could we find fulfillment when the fundamentals of economics are hinged on employers who want productivity and profit as cheaply as they could get it?  

But where to start? How could I align my Workview and Lifeview?  The DYL for Women workshop offered me an intense and structured way to build my way toward the life I wanted to live. Odyssey plans gave me the opportunity to think about the different life paths I could take.  I also learned how to reframe my problems to create more room for solutions. Radical collaboration delivered dozens of ideas, some of them uncomfortable, testing what I was truly willing to do to address the areas where I was stuck.  Prototyping helped me fill in the gaps with knowledge of how to get where I wanted to go, with the help of others, to keep me on the path, making the journey that much smoother.

It struck me at the DYL for Women workshop that many attendees wanted to start their own business or already had their own business which begs the question, “What is it about corporate work culture that has so many women (and men I’m sure as well) wanting to leave corporate America and never look back?  Why can’t employers fix the work culture gap?”  Perhaps it can be attributed to the spirit of entrepreneurism in America or, perhaps like me, many of these women also believe the workplace is indeed broken. The missing link in my opinion is a shared mindset of abundance between employers and employees.

The domain name is purchased: action item completed!

In the month following the workshop I went above and beyond completing the action plan I laid out for myself, by doing things like:

  • buying the the domain for my name and setting up a personal website
  • placing a new ad for back-up childcare options to give myself the peace of mind
  • looking into different high risk, high reward investment opportunities that I could afford to be more aggressive with in order to grow my retirement funds
  • networking when I didn’t need to just for the sake of meeting new people and paying it forward

I’m trying to adopt a mindset of abundance that I think is lacking in the workplace and in the world.  I’m trusting the path that leads to workview-lifeview coherence and alignment and very deliberately reinventing myself inwardly and outwardly. I can’t wait to meet the person I’ve been all along.