Dion Johnson is an award-winning business owner, whose self-named company focuses on helping professional women aged 40 and over to re-focus their lives and careers, so that they are able to do the kind of work they want to do. Dion, a Christian of 14 years’ standing, made the difficult transition from being a successful midwife to entering unchartered waters, undergoing training and re-establishing herself as a business owner. It was the right decision. Not only is Dion helping hundreds of midlife women find fulfilment in their work and personal lives, she has won awards for her efforts, and is fast becoming a role model and demonstrating that life can still be exciting, no matter how old you are. Dion Johnson spoke to Keep The Faith about her life and work.
KEEP THE FAITH (KTF): What inspired you to start a company to help unfulfilled professional women find more fulfilling work?
DION JOHNSON (DJ): When I was in my mid-thirties, I hit a big professional pit; I was really fed up with my job and my life, if the truth be told, and as my dissatisfaction grew. It forced me to come face to face with the harsh reality that, even though I couldn’t stand my job anymore, I was also petrified about losing it; I felt heavily dependent on it. I’d always been in healthcare and I was good at it; my family was proud of my accomplishments; I earned good money and received accolades for my trailblazing leadership exploits, so becoming fed up and dissatisfied was a huge inconvenience and, actually, it felt like a threat to my wellbeing. But the longing for MORE never went away and, 10 years ago in 2004, I took a massive leap of faith and handed in my notice, with no idea what was next for me, just a deep knowing in my belly that there was more and that I needed to take this step to find it.
KTF: How did you go about finding fulfilling work?
DJ: I spent the first six months in my dressing gown, crying out to God as the harsh realities of no income and no clear direction hit me and hit me hard. I agonised to ‘find myself’. I feared I wasn’t going to be able to care for my daughter, and lived with consistent uncertainty about how we would survive yet, somewhere deep in my belly, I knew I needed to stick with this path into the unknown.
But here I am! It’s 2014 and everything is different now! I trained as an Executive and Performance Coach, studied psychology and Neuro Linguistic Programming, and began putting one foot in front of the other to share what I was learning and to be of help to whoever came my way. This whole experience has become my passion and the foundation undergirding my work with professional women in the marketplace.
KTF: How long has your business been going, and what kind of responses have you been getting for the services you provide?
DJ: I work with women who are ready to evolve to a higher expression of who they were born to be. I think it’s because of my health and midwifery background why I attract mostly, but not exclusively, women from the people professions: doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, midwives and leading women, who appear to be doing so well on the face of things but inside are experiencing deep dissatisfaction and boredom.
These women know secretly and instinctively that something needs to change and shift. They may not know what or how, but that’s what they discover as we work together. We create a partnership; I invest in my own learning, development and transformation, and then share openly with the women I support, teach and guide, as they commit to their own transformation.
KTF: You were born with a facial disfigurement, which you used to hide, but do so no longer. Why is that?
DJ: Five years ago, a series of events led me to question my own level of authenticity and how I was showing up in my business. I was born with a facial disfigurement, and wore an artificial eye and dark glasses to cover my facial flaws. I was petrified of being seen by anyone without my ‘mask’. I arrived at a place in my life, where I had to decide whether I was more committed to continuing with my personal transformation and authentic presence, or if I was going to betray that and continue showing up behind this mask.
It was a terrifying and enormous decision, but I committed to finding a way to show up in my business and life for real – no more hiding. I began to share this with my clients and followers, and it really struck a chord!
KTF: What kind of things started happening when you began to let people see the real you?
DJ: Women from all around the world began to get in touch with me to tell me their story about the secret masks they wear both professionally and personally, too. The more candid and authentic I become, the more I am attracting the attention of professional women who know there is more to them than they are currently being… it’s amazing. Since telling my story, I have been featured in other articles; invited to take the platform as a TEDx Speaker, and have won two awards: Inspiring Woman in 2012 and Mentor of the Year in 2013. It’s AMAZING!
KTF: How does your company help women looking for ways out of their unfulfilled work?
DJ: A lot of what I do is simply about getting women to admit it! Admit how they are truly feeling about work and life, and making a decision to pay attention and not keep trying to dismiss their innermost thoughts. I teach women that it’s not wrong to become unfulfilled; it’s wrong to ignore it. Dissatisfaction, work and life crisis, boredom and disillusionment are all part of life’s way of alerting us that we are ready for the next stage of the transformation process. It’s an opportunity to evolve into another dimension of self-expression and being.
By nature, life is continually presenting us with opportunities to grow. Becoming consistently fed up at work is exactly that: a signal it’s time to grow on and develop.
But you can’t grow and stay the same… that’s one of the scary truths I help my clients to face.
KTF: And how do you help women find fulfilling work?
DJ: The honest answer is I don’t. I give women the opportunity of quality time, space, guidance and support, to take a good look in the mirror and to get reacquainted with themselves. So many women are trying to stay satisfied with a life they built 20 and 30 years ago, but they need to realise they have outgrown it. I help women admit to themselves what they really want. It never ceases to amaze me how disconnected women can become from their heart and true desires in the name of busyness and caring for everyone and everything.
KTF: You use the term ‘midlife women’ – can you explain what you mean by that, and why you feel that midlife women have a lot to offer society?
DJ: According to research commissioned by healthcare provider, Benenden Health, midlife – or the middle age – is starting older than it used to be. It was once believed that the landmark began at 41; it is now thought that middle age does not start until aged 53. Many of my clients are in their mid-forties and –fifties, and very mindful about the prospect of facing and adjusting to being the big five-0. I meet women who are often, secretly, anxious about what being this age means. They think about getting older and less productive; they face all kinds of unknowns physically, emotionally, socially and financially, and it can often evoke an overwhelming need for review and change and, for many, crisis. My message is, it doesn’t have to be terrible; in fact, I’m convinced it’s an unprecedented opportunity to make a unique, important and personally meaningful impact in the world through their work. I’m consistently blown away by the depth of knowledge and wisdom the more mature professional woman possesses.
KTF: How does your faith influence your life and your work?
DJ: I like to describe Jesus as my CEO. My love, drive and sense of mission are a direct result of my love and relationship with Him. I remember one day in prayer, He told me: “For I so love the world that I created you, Dion!” Everything you see me do in service of the women is inextricably linked with my service to my heavenly Boss. It’s really that simple.
I am fully persuaded that God has big intentions for professional, midlife women in His plans to bless the world.
KTF: What should we expect from Dion in the next few months?
DJ: It’s all about getting the message out there, far and wide, that women, and especially Midlife Women, have the power to break out of the mediocre and mundane; make their unique mark, and absolutely LOVE living life! I am thrilled to be launching my new online 30-Day programme called ‘REThink YOU’. I’m excited about this, because it’s a really easy way for busy professionals to access my support in a group setting, without the need for travel and big time investment. Plus, it’s a great challenge and opportunity for me to overcome my technology phobia, and make the Internet work for my business! The best is yet to come!
For more details, visit www.dionjohnson.com. Dion Johnson will be hosting a special launch event and fundraiser to raise money to stop maternal deaths in the developing world, on July 22 at Bloomsbury House, 2-3 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2RL. Speakers include Grace Ononiwu, Chief Prosecutor of the CPS, Midlands. Admission is £20 plus booking fee. Visit www.bit.ly/SheShinesGlobal to book your tickets.