Labber Spotlight | October 2019
5 min. read
Creative Operations Manager
“I guess I wasn’t done with my suffering. I kept thinking that every time something went wrong: I can fix this. I can change this.”
Labber Clemmie Lozano is recalling the toxic work environment that left her questioning her own skills and expertise: this despite years of experience and a track record of recognitions and strong reviews at previous blue-chip companies. The term for it is ‘gaslighting’ and it is a management practice that has harmed too many promising careers.
“I had always prided myself on building strong work relationships and handling conflicts. There was rarely a problem I couldn’t fix…or so I thought.
So I just kept putting up with it and thinking it had to get better and it had to be me and it had to be something wrong with the way I was doing that job. I didn’t realize that sometimes the place you’re in is just not the right fit.”
Although she finally left that situation, Lozano was still processing the experience when she joined the Women’s Leadership Lab in January 2019. At the time, she says her “confidence was shot” and she wasn’t practicing self-love. She was looking for her purpose but was feeling vulnerable, unsure she even belonged in the cohort.
So, what motivated you to decide? What made you say: “Yeah, this Lab is for me”?
I was ready. I was already in a big transition in my life. And I needed answers.
I’m not ever afraid to look at myself. The best and worst part of me is that I’m my biggest critic. So I’m not afraid to admit if there’s something I need to work on.
I was kind of stuck in a spot where I kept playing things over and over again in my head, trying to figure out what I could have done differently. I had been reading posts about the Women’s Leadership Lab, so when the new cohort came up, I was ready for the next level.
I knew there was something I wasn’t doing or…seeing. I wanted to look deeper inside of me.
And then when you got there…?
It was such a unique experience…to be sitting in that circle.
At the beginning of the cohort, I didn’t feel worthy to be in this room with all these female leaders. I mean, just very strong, powerful women. I had just left my job. I didn’t feel like a leader.
You know that saying that: we are judged on the last thing we did, not on our lifetime of accomplishments? I was stuck there. At that moment in time, it didn’t matter that I had just completed graduate school or that I had raised two strong, independent young men or — until that last job — I had always been reviewed as a top performer. Nope. In that moment, I felt like a big ball of ‘under- accomplished.’
But as the months went on and we started to get to know each other, I realized that we all fundamentally want the same things: to be understood, to feel connected, and to get through whatever it is we have to get through and have those tough conversations.
The happy conversations are always easier, right?
I really appreciated that circle experience. I felt like I could just be myself—my authentic self—without judgment.
Actually, at first I did feel judged because I didn’t know anyone. It was very scary to be so vulnerable with a group of women and…I was going to say: a group of women who didn’t look like me.But even if they did look like me, I think I would’ve been equally as afraid. It was like [a confession]:
Hi, I’m Clemmie. Now I do nothing for a living. I read lots of self-help books to try to figure out what the hell happened.”
That was really scary, that circle. But then once people started opening up, there was no judgment. There was empathy and understanding. It was quite a unique experience for me. I’ve always had circles of friends. But it’s unusual to connect on that level and see a reflection of myself in so many strong, different women.
It was vulnerable but empowering.
But while you were in WLL, you started a new job, right?
Yes! I started right before our last session in June.
So, how has the Lab helped you approach situations in your new position?
Well, now I step back and analyze; I see things more clearly. I use that ‘projection’ exercise of asking what is it in me [that is triggering my reaction]? I also put myself in the other’s shoes. I’ve always considered myself extremely empathetic, and WLL has helped me fine-tune that empathy to better understand where that person is coming from or why they are behaving the way they are.
It’s also helped me reclaim my confidence. Now I’ll walk into any room with the attitude: Okay, we’re all people, here. We’re all human. Even with the CEO. I would never have done that at my last job. I credit the Lab for that. Because once you start to see that all these people with all this perceived power are no different from you, things get a lot easier.
The self-doubt and fear disappear.
Yep. This is a whole new frame of mind. In my previous job I would tell myself: Stay calm, Clemmie. Stay under the radar. Never let them see you sweat.
Now you’re not staying under the radar.
No, now I’m chatting with everyone, regardless of status or title. I mean, Who is this woman? It’s like the younger me—who had always felt so unafraid to speak her mind. It feels good.
Do you think your family or friends have noticed a change in you?
Yeah. Definitely my husband, because I’m more confident and closer to who he married. Far different than who I was a year ago. I’m not shying away from things and my confidence is back to where it should be. But, it’s even better, even stronger now.
You know what the difference is? It’s not egocentric. It’s a more…peaceful confidence.
Clemmie Lozano reclaimed her self confidence in the face of unconscious bias through the work she did within her Women’s Leadership Lab cohort. She now uses it to build stronger connections at work and at home. That is something we practice in every WLLab.
A few spaces are still left for our next 6-session Chicago Women’s Leadership Lab , beginning October 17 & 18, 2019.