Valkyrie Performance

Accountability Integrity Attitude

Project Educate and Inspire: Week 5

Andrea Writt

Welcome and thank you for stopping by! This is the third iteration of our series to honor and share the stories of empowered women, fulfilling roles as leaders in their country. The mission of this project is to inspire, educate, and connect women who are currently serving or considering serving in typically male dominated professions such as military, police, or fire service. Over the next ten weeks we will share the stories of ten amazing women who have served, or are currently serving our Nation, providing unique perspectives into the inspiring realities of these women's lives.

If you would like to contribute to our project and share your story through Valkyrie Performance, please email me at writt.aj@gmail.com

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First Lieutenant Dusti Doss


Combat Engineer Platoon Commander, United States Marine Corps
 


1. What do you appreciate the most about being a woman in a male dominated field?

I get to be someone’s definition of a female in the Marine Corps. I get to disprove, dispel, and negate negative stereotypes while affirming the fact that we’re all Marines. Period. Someone will think back on me crushing them in workouts, pushing them to reach further in their jobs, and laughing with them in our down time. I get to create the mold.  


2. As a woman in a male dominated field, what challenges do you regularly face and how do you overcome those challenges?

Your gender will beat you into the door. It’s the first thing people will see. Every brief, operation, task. The quicker you accept it and not let that fact cause you to overwork yourself, to “win them over”, the better. I’m currently on an operation in the Philippines. I’m one of the few officers to have done it twice- and yet my local counterpart refuses to work with me. No words, meetings, not even eye contact. I work around it because I have to. I can’t let my guys see me fall apart over something so BS. Does it hurt? Hell yes. It wrecks me. None of my experience, skills, or even my commission means a thing to him and the forces were working with. I just stay focused on mission because we have to. It’s my job to portray strength... and be that model to my guys around me. I get to be a positive Lieutenant story.

60% of the people out there won’t mind if you’re a female, but the 40% that do care are loud and ruthless. Key the “be the mold” conversation. Everything you say and do will be watched, sometimes critically, so make it worth the talk. Knock it out of the park, and don’t be a victim. If it hurts, if it’s not right, you say something, you don’t take it laying down. You are the example for the junior females around you, but recognize that your words and actions have power.


3. What practices do you have, to re-center yourself when you’ve had a tough conversation or someone has given you an ungrounded assessment or unsolicited advice?

Breathe. Walk away. Get fresh air. You have to reset yourself before you can think critically. Get out of the building. Change your environment. Sometimes we need to remember that this is our job, not our life. These people matter, but they are not the end all, be all.

Prayer, for me, always. I would be nothing without that strength in my life.

Talk to a mentor- MENTORSHIP IS EVERYTHING. I relay the whole situation if possible to see if the action I want to take makes sense and is level-headed. Choose someone who will tell you no, tell you to calm down, or say hell yes. You need people in your corner.


4. What are your top 3-5 priorities in life? How do you make time for the areas you value most?

God, Family, Training, Corps.

I am dual military (my husband and I are both in the military). In two years of marriage we’ve spent about 6 months in the same country, let alone together. We do a devotion every day (separately,) while also seeking out families of people around us wherever we end up. These deeply forged friendships have developed into a global network of people who pray for us and continue to help develop us in our young marriage.

As for training- it’s what I did full time before the Marine Corps. Other than time spent with Marines, it’s my absolute passion. I love doing it, training and coaching others, learning and researching more about it. Me taking time out of my day/week to integrate these priorities properly is a necessity for me to give my all daily and feel my best. You absolutely cannot do life as a successful dual military leader/spouse while being out of balance. My daily integration of these things is what makes me who I am. I do not function well when these get out of sync. It’s taken me almost 32 years to figure that out.


5. While serving, what has been your biggest personal victory? What about the best organizational/team victory and why?

I had the privilege of teaching young Marines how to pass the Marine Corps Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) test for Combat Engineers. In the test you need to essentially clean and jerk 95lbs on a barbell. During MOS school, I worked quietly with the Company 1stSgt to help those who were struggling through the program, focusing on body awareness and Olympic Lifting techniques. Otherwise, those Marines would have been redesignated or would have remained a strain on the Company and School. I took great pleasure in seeing a pretty large number go from failing to passing.

Organizationally, I was able to plan and execute the first single platoon deployment from my battalion to another country, a small island doing humanitarian work. I worked with my amazing battalion staff for over a year, ending in me briefing a General, by myself. In that moment I saw the rewards of having a fantastic team behind me. WE DID THAT, and it was awesome.


6. Do you feel like you have found your “life’s purpose/calling” yet, or do you still feel like you are continuing to discover and unravel what unique gift/niche you bring to the world?

I have prayed most of my life for a “cause to invest in.” Not a single job or title. I had no idea one day that would result in me leading Marines. I will ride this train until the wheels fall off, and when they do, I’ll find more people to invest in, in new ways. As far as how I CAN invest, I am passionate about nutrition, obviously fitness, but also pushing those around me to raise their standards. It’s incredible to see people achieve things they never thought they could.


7. How do you combat negative self-talk, and pick yourself back up from failure? 

Give yourself about 10 min. No more, no less. Cry, scream, ponder... whatever. Then move on. You can’t change it at that point, but you can change your perspective. I’m big on mental toughness. Yes, life will give us reasons to slow down and think about our decisions, but failure can be positive. And negative self talk will never be necessary. That’s the enemy’s scheme. Destroy it, and weirdly enough, it goes away.


8. If you could describe yourself in 3 words what would they be? If others described you in 3 words what would they be? Are they congruent with the way you think you are portraying yourself in the world?

Resilient. Giving. Powerful..... my husband just called me untamed: can’t figure out if that’s good or bad. He mentioned beautiful and something else typical. I feel like I’m a pretty congruent person... probably to a fault. My husband would say probably TOO congruent. I’m incapable of being anything else. It’s a blessing and a curse.

I feel that it is important that women show all their “sides”... cue the “mold” conversation again. We are defining and redefining what other peoples’ perceptions are daily. BE MORE HUMAN.


9. What changes would you like to see in the next 5 years for women in male dominated environments?

For the “standards” talk to be completely eliminated. Let’s implement programs (i.e. Valkyrie Performance method) that prepare women to meet standards. Period. More preparation, less talk. People are more convinced by actions anyways. There are many more, but that one is the crux.


10. What advice would give to your 19 year old self? Or to a young woman starting her journey of serving our Country?

Man.... so many things. You know that little voice in your head? The one that warns you about bad decisions or gives you butterflies when you are presented with challenges? Don’t ever lose that. Chase it. Keep it. It will be the one thing that defines you, your integrity, your credibility, your fire. You need to be the most honest, fiercest, bravest version of yourself to succeed, regardless of vocation.

 

Again, if you have questions or would like to share your story with Valkyrie, please contact me at writt.aj@gmail.com