Thursday, September 26, 2013

Connecting the Dots.

It's probably no secret that my work is very important to me, and that aligning my work with my personal values, goals, skills, education and interests is fundamental to my sense of well-being, self, and purpose. Folks probably also know that I've been trying to develop the right skills and be open to opportunities as they present themselves to help me find that alignment, and that hasn't always had the desired results. Switching gears from focusing on my job to becoming more civically engaged in my city - from redistricting to volunteering at events to serving on boards to working on a campaign - was a somewhat intentional process that I wanted to result in a kickass job helping to shape the future of Sacramento. Unfortunately, that hasn't really happened, though I have made some pretty substantial contributions to our city as a volunteer and bon vivant, that I'm pleased with.

In his 2005 Stanford university commencement speech, Steve Jobs shared one of his major life lessons: connecting the dots. He noted that this could only be done in retrospect, and that everyone has to trust in something, to have faith that making good choices in the moment will result in opportunities in the future. For a while, I lost sight of that. I have a hard time being patient.

All that patience with divine timing seems more plausible now. After a couple years of casting about, trying to seize opportunities not meant for me, frustrated, stymied, disappointed with the outcomes of my efforts, I can say that I can connect some really awesome dots. It starts with the position I took to fulfill my internship requirement for my master's degree. That gave me the chance to work with local electeds on public health/built environment/general plan/food access issues, in what was then an emerging policy area that only gets more robust and effective and awesome over time. My job died because the feds didn't get it, and I ended up auditing. For almost six years! But during that time, I also joined the Planning and Urban Development (Bowling) League, aka PUDL, where I met a lot of planning, land use, and environmental science professionals. And I also made great friends with my happy hour crew - a bunch of land use/housing/transportation policy and political folks, who I met entirely as a result of this blog. That was 2008-9ish. Fast-forward to 2010 and I'm chilling at the Bike Kitchen and run into someone who was in the league, but about to move to Oakland. We converse, become facebook friends, life goes on in Sactown.

I got really busy with auditing for a while and saved the state $1.5 billion. Greatest accomplishment of my career thus far. Also the apex of my auditing experience, but it afforded me a great friend in my boss at that time. After that, I was encouraged by my mentor to apply to the city's redistricting committee, and got myself appointed. I got to know city issues intimately, became good friends with the person who would become our future city councilman, and met a bunch of other bigwigs. I also had my first taste of working with media - I wrote an op-ed, gave quotes for stories, and used my facebook feed to great effect. Then, I joined some boards, focused on housing (Next Move) and transportation (SABA), and helped found my alumni association chapter (Hornets Policy & Politics). I helped run a successful city council campaign - and learned A TON about politics (including some things I didn't want to know, but really needed to learn). Most recently, my friends and I put on an event on civic technology and civic engagement with cool elected officials. And all the while I toiled at my job and tried to find a good policy job in land use, transportation, housing, or something with nonprofits (cause I love helping to run Women with Good Spirits and love nonprofits in general.)

And then one day, while I was tooling along on facebook from my phone, that friend from the bowling league whom I ran into at the Bike Kitchen posted that her organization (that, incidentally, one of my happy hour friends sits on the steering committee for) was looking for a communications and network director. I clicked on the link, liked what I saw, and applied. The rest of the process fell into place without a lot of drama - just everyone on my reference list texting to say how perfect the job sounds for me.

That's a lot of dots.

1 comment:

Judy Brown-Fonger said...

I'm so excited for you!