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Achieving Balance

Jazmin's incredible knack for creativity is demonstrated by her range of talents, her dynamic professional pursuits and by her devotion to a life of balance. In addition to being a true inspiration on how to craft a life, Jazmin also offers us words of wisdom as we work to diversify our talents this year and beyond. Also be sure to check out her most recent feature in this month's issue of En Root, Adapting Creativity as a Form of Self Care.

This month's theme is all about developing personal and professional outlets. Tell us about how that concept has played a role in your life/work.

I've always sought a balance between personal and professional endeavors. As someone dedicated to my corporate career, a forever-student, and simultaneously an artist, I've had to find ways to make time for all of my interests. This has often meant coming up with uncanny ways to express my creativity, as well as carving out time to relax and recharge. Balance is necessary for me to achieve happiness. If I relinquish all of my professional responsibilities, I often feel lost, but I get burnt out if I forego indulging in my creative outlets. I've found the best solution is marrying these desires when possible, as both are important for my overall success.

At OutGrowth, we are committed to finding new ways to build a well-lived life and a fulfilling career. What do you think we as individuals and communities can do to carve a path so that others can grow beyond traditional limits?

One of the most valuable things I've learned in my career is the importance of taking time to listen to others and their experiences. Over the last few years, I've become more active on LinkedIn. As I've grown in my career, I've received an ever-increasing number of requests from strangers who'd like to chat about my career path and educational background as they venture on similar paths. Every conversation I've had with my connections has led to great discussions and provided a glimpse into the lives of those I might not have met otherwise. I've learned more than I expected, and most importantly, learned how to listen to others without expectations. As individuals, I believe we can spend more time listening to others, understanding each other's backgrounds, and taking the time to hear stories. When you take the time to listen to a person's story, you might find that their knowledge and skills are more vast than you could have imagined.

Tell us about a pinnacle point or moment in your life journey.

Deciding to go back to graduate school was a massive decision. After working full-time for several years following my Bachelor's degree, I realized that I couldn't achieve the things I was most interested in with my current education. I needed to change courses and pivot.

How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook?

It would be an understatement to say that my graduate program changed my life. I went into my program with the hopes of following my dreams and will leave with a host of new dreams to chase. I've increased my understanding of the world significantly, as well as re-shaped the way I think about problem-solving. Before, I wanted to learn how to be a great business owner--one who kept humanity at the top of my mind. Now, I want to be a great problem solver--one who puts empathy first and designs for economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

What are your top three pieces of advice for students and professionals who may be looking for ways to diversify their skills and experiences?

1. Don't be afraid to take opportunities that are not directly related to your prescribed career path. Sometimes you will learn the most when you get out of your comfort zone. Take chances, and be open to finding a new passion or honing an unexpected skill.

2. There's a community for everything. If you are interested in learning a skill or venturing on an uncharted career path, chances are there are Reddit, LinkedIn, or Facebook groups filled with professionals with the skills you'd like to hone. Join those groups and ask questions. Learn as much as you can from reading and observation.

3. And when you're ready, connect with professionals with the jobs that interest you. Set up a time for a quick phone call or Zoom chat. I've cold-emailed dozens of people throughout my career and have only received one 'no.' Go for it!

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Slow down and enjoy the moment. There will be time in the future to be successful. Your early twenties are about exploring and making mistakes. Have fun.

Based on your professional experience, what are the top three career competencies that you believe can be gained/developed as a result of building a dynamic day-to-day?

Flexibility, adaptability, and openness to innovation.

What's next? What are your next steps toward growth in 2021?

This year I will finish my graduate program. After that, I'll start writing my first full-length novel.

Jazmin Harling-Gray grew up traveling the United States, never settling in one place for long. From New York to Georgia, Idaho, and even Hawaii, her childhood was filled with different people, places, and communities that offered their own perspectives on life. This lifestyle taught her very early on the value of diversity and adaptability. Today, she is a Sr. UX Content Strategist at T. Rowe Price, and a second-year graduate student in the MBA/MA in Design Leadership program at Johns Hopkins University.


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