Lost and Found

by Jennifer Pechacek
For the past 7 years—through a very challenging journey—I have been groomed within a professional context to provide leadership in project and team management working within architecture, planning and urban design. Communication techniques and skills are imperative to leading teams through the development of multiple projects. Communication helps sustain the outcome and so becoming a better communicator is of particular interest to me. LiveE as a course is designed to address the significance of “effective communication” within professional practice.
I chose to go back to school to break down my “me house”. Attending the dMBA program at CCA has presented me with the opportunities to free my hindered mind, engage in provoking thoughts, provide space for self-reflection and time to question my true self, as I see myself—not just in terms of how others view me. The pressures of professional business practice consistently remind me to remain “strong” and to never reveal my fears. However, during this first semester of dMBA I saw how I own my image. Returning to school has given me the wonderful opportunity to start a difficult conversation with myself.

Being forced to make an internal deep dive, through LiveE and my other classes, is an intimidating process and, consequently, a process where one might discover things about ourselves we have chosen to ignore. Through this diving process, I have determined—and probably what is most disturbing—is that I am nothing more than a manifestation of how I have been trained; the way I talk, act, and design is influenced by outside sources, especially by my parents and professional superiors. I am too trained and a part of my reactive self is too rigid.
I now desire to deconstruct leadership as it has been presented to me since my professional and personal development is a result of “leadership’s” grand ideas. For a long time, I have been a conformer, but I am not a robot. I know I was born to rebel in the best sense and I always have intuitively.
Like so many in professional practice, my communication is perfectly crafted. I realize how much I ponder over my thoughts until I have developed the most controlled and eloquent statement. My internal and external judge is desensitizing me from other peoples judgments and I am cutting myself off from participating in an open and fluid exchange of ideas. I am stuck in framing my communication because of my fears of making a mistake, stepping on toes, or more simply, sounding foolish.
Communication is so important to sustaining what I represent and my ideas. I’d like to mirror my personality and become alive, present, be spontaneous and honest with my words. When this happens, I no longer live in fear of what others think. I do accept the person that I am and I am open to making mistakes even with communication. Mistakes help me to carry myself well. This is the one significantly difficult conversation that I needed to have with myself this semester. As a result, I feel liberated, less trained, and I am starting to own who I am once again.

These articles were created as part of the course work for “Live Exchange” the foundational course on communication for The MBA Design Strategy Program at California College of the Arts. Read more about the project here.

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