Where are my directions?

By Samantha Wong

We are all made up of many different fascinating components.  Each piece is an important and integral part to who we are today. We must call on certain strengths to accomplish certain decisions, tasks or questions.  And when we only utilize one or two of our strengths, we lose the greatest aspect of ourselves, that the sum of who we are is greater than our individual pieces.  It is a balancing act to manage and express each part of who we are together as one.

There are certain strengths that I have relied on to get me where I am today.  I received a digital arts degree from UCSD because I had a creative passion for arts and programming.  However, I hid behind a screen of visuals without emerging to communicate out loud what I had to say.

Professionally, I worked in different marketing roles from analysis to media research to project management.  I pursued marketing because I enjoyed the puzzle of numbers and the story that research presented.  While this suited a certain niche, I felt empty at the lack of creative thinking and the inability to express my ideas and thoughts.  Since I was eight, I swam recreationally and competitively.  My love of swimming opened the doors to coaching and competing at nationals during my collegiate career.  The pool has always been inviting to me and is the one place that I know I am always me.

I have been able to rely on my passions and strengths to reach amazing feats in my life.  Despite these successes, I realized that I was ignoring another aspect of me.  My story was not in balance.

So, now when I stand at the fork in the road, trying to figure out which way to go – about a career, a project, the next step, I look to take the road that will lead to the complete me. This past year, I took one road that led me to embrace many of my strengths and passions all at once.  In order to marry my creative and tactical thinking, I chose to pursue an MBA in Design Strategy (dMBA) at the California College of Arts. This turn in the road has challenged me to further understand, appreciate and learn from the story that is unfolding.

In the first semester of my coursework, the dMBA program has both challenged me intellectually and emotionally.  In Innovation Studio, I had to step away from the conventions of my western education and instead explore the design thought process of “How.” Moving away from an analytical approach, we dissected the “How” and its ramifications on the process and solution.  We took creative leaps to better box thinking approaches.  It’s not necessarily about “thinking outside of the box,” but finding new and innovative ways to reshape what is already there. In Live Exchange, my communications course, I had to stop myself from continually staying on the surface of things and “going through the motions” to instead, discover a connection with a stronger and more self-aware me.

Taking the huge step towards pursuing a dMBA has allowed me to push open the doors to embracing my story.  I consult myself first.  I look inside to my own set of directions, guides to helping me stay balanced between all of the unique parts of me.  These directions will not tell me the way nor prevent me from getting lost, but will help me to better find my way in a more balanced approach.

Below is a set of my directions.  These reminders will help to keep me grounded and free to choose any path I come upon in life.

Where are my directions?

  • Know my story. Explore my story. Listen to my story.  Without listening to my story, no one else can hear it.
  • Joy. “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” (Thich Nhat Hanh)  Bring the positive to the forefront. Focus on what it would be like to have more joie de vivre.  It is a forward journey.
  • Build up ideas. We live in a world that is structured and confined. We have been taught to stay inside the lines; now I learn to break through the box.  Each moment is an experience that we can explore to innovate.
  • Ask questions. Be curious. There is always something new to be learned or uncovered.  It opens perspectives.  We discover more.
  • Celebrate my strengths. By fully understanding my potential, I better know how to utilize and appreciate my strengths.  With focus, I can hone my skills to further help those around me and most importantly, myself.
  • Get a little crazy. Step away from my comfort zone.  Just get out there and do it.  Just trying just does not cut it.  It is okay to be scared in life.
  • Reflection. Find a way to slow down, hush the chattering noises inside and outside and take a moment.  Every morning in the pool I can count on being lost in the silence of the water. It gives me the peace to find myself.

There are so many paths unfolding before me.  I look forward to discovering what these opportunities might be and exploring what I do not know about myself.  I aim to be more in touch with my story and will rely on “my directions” to regain my balance when I stumble or fall.  And, I also look forward to being more comfortable in the journey without knowing exactly where it is taking me.

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.

Leave a Reply