“On the other side of those decisions there’s a domino effect, because then you’re executing those decisions. There’s mental freedom that comes from that, from just deciding and then moving into action. Rare is the time that the consequence of changing my mind has been worse than I thought it was, it’s almost always not as bad.” - Cherylanne Skolnicki
How would you like to overcome “analysis paralysis” and learn the techniques for taking action, once and for all? With the daily demands on women’s time, both at home and in the workplace, decision-making can be an overwhelming process. However, it doesn’t have to be like this. Today’s Brave By Design guest is here to talk all about work-life integration, and she shares the ways that she helps women put things in motion in order to live a healthy and fulfilling life.
Over the last decade, she’s coached hundreds of entrepreneurial and professional women on how to stop settling, get out of their own way, and finally go after their dreams.
As a former corporate ladder climber and MBA who spent 15 years at a Fortune 50 company, she knows exactly what it takes for ambitious, strong women to find balance.
And yet as a married mom of three with a career she loves, Cherylanne also knows we want more than just to feel balanced...we want to be brilliant.
Connect with Cherylanne: https://brilliant-balance.com/
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On the other side of those decisions, there's this domino effect, right? Because then you're executing those decisions, the mental freedom that comes from that from just deciding and then moving into action. Rare is the time that the consequence of changing my mind has been worse than I thought it was. It's almost always not as bad.Laura Khalil:
Welcome to brave by design. I'm your host, Laura Khalil. I'm an entrepreneur, coach and speaker. I love thinking bait, exploring the power of personal development and sharing the best strategies from thought leaders and pioneers in business to empower ambitious women and allies to bravely rise and thrive. Let's get started.Unknown:
Everyone, welcome to this episode of brave by design. I'm really excited for you to hear from our guest. Today, we are going to be speaking with Cheryl and school Nikki, she is one of America's leading authorities on work life integration, helping working women live their happiest and most fulfilling lives. Now from her early days, at a fortune 500 company, to founding the brilliant balanced company, which y'all need to check out. That's where she leads a vibrant community of high achieving women, she's become a go to expert and trusted advisor for women who want to get the most out of life. Welcome to brave by design. Thank you for having me. I'm so happy to be here. I was listening to your show. And there were so many aha and lightbulb moments. And you know, one of the things that I love to start with asking my guests is how did you get here? Because it's often a journey that we find ourselves into coaching. And so tell us a little bit about what inspired you to start the brilliant, balanced company? It's such a good question. And it is a little bit of a winding path. I think if I put myself back in, you know, the seat of a listener, right? Who might be thinking about Okay, what is the path? I'm really meant to be on? What am I really supposed to do with my life? I'm not sure it's always an obvious answer. Right? So my philosophy has always been you can't steer a parked car, you have to get this thing in motion. And I love that.Cherylanne Skolnicki:
True. It's true. It's so true, though, right? Like, we think, Oh, well, I have to know the exact destination before I can even start. And my metaphor really is like, No, you have to start moving. And then one thing leads to the next your visibility changes you see around the corner, and you learn to see or write and ultimately, it's a winding road that gets you to any destination. So when I think back to the biggest inflection point for me was 15 years into a corporate career, I worked in marketing for a really big Consumer Products Company. And I was dutifully climbing the corporate ladder and getting all the titles and raises and promotions that went with it. And I just looked up that ladder and thought, this is not leaning against a wall, I want to be at the top. You know, I this just is no longer. I'm working really hard. I'm doing well. I could keep climbing this, but I'm not sure it's really going to make the mark in the world that I'm interested in marking. Sure, let me ask you this question. When you started in the corporate world. Did you think you wanted to go to the top of that ladder? Yes. Oh, 1,000%? Yes, I was, you know, I probably was like the president of the future CEOs of America and I was seven, you know, that, that like, long standing belief that I'm gonna have this big job, and I'm gonna and I think, in that era, big companies were where the prestige was like it was that Yeah, did you went and got connected to the biggest possible company and climbed that ladder? And that's what our parents did. For sure. For sure. You know, my dad worked for at&t, and my mom was a teacher and so that corporate life was very attractive to me. And I was well suited to it, you know, or so I thought. So 15 years, then I had this, you know, realization that this is not the path for me. Let me stop you right there Did something happen was something happening in the moment when you said, Oh, I don't think this is going to work anymore. No. Okay. There was no obvious aha moment, there was more of a collection of small intuitive hits, just a sense of knowingness of Okay, I'm turning in another performance review. And it's a great performance review, but I'm not super proud of the work or you know, I'm it's Oh, here we go against the next brand I'm on or it's next initiative I'm leading and it felt started to feel repetitive. And a little bit like I didn't have enough control over the outcome. Right, so there were some of those intuitive hits. And then the biggest thing was really, even if I am the most wildly successful I possibly can be in this. In this career, ultimately, it means someone's going to use my laundry detergent and not someone else's, you know, and that just didn't feel like my mark in the universe. Now, it might be someone's right and wrong, but it just, I thought, this collection of gifts and talents that I have, what do I want to apply them to? What's the problem that I want to solve? what gets me infinitely curious, you know, what captures my imagination. And so I looked around and thought, Well, I'm a working mom, at the time, I had two kids, and found out very shortly thereafter, I was gonna have a third. And I thought, I really understand the problems that working moms are up against, especially in big jobs. Maybe I just start solving those problems, you know, one at a time, like what's right in front of me, and can I build a solution? And then can I build another solution? Okay. And that's how I steered from where I started to where brilliant balances today. So you started driving the car? Yes. Yes. One thing I have to ask you, because I also had my experience in the corporate world and ended up leaving. And a lot of people feel like when they leave that corporate gig, it's like, the whole world has to shift and there has to be some radical change that happens to fulfill them. What do you think about that? I think that the seeds of our future were planted in our past. So for me, Laura, I think about it as the work I do today, you can go back into my life in that company and see the evidence, you see the early indications of my interest, and what I loved mentoring women, I loved being a part of our women's networks, I loved getting to run an event, if I got to speak all the better, you know, I loved creative work and communication. And I liked leading teams. So the seeds of that are bearing fruit in my current role, like I didn't make a kind of one ad, right. I didn't go from being a lawyer to being a ballerina, there's more connection in this for me. But I think what I did was got very focused on what were the problems I wanted to solve. And that's not how I started my career, you know, so for anyone who started their career with a different set of criteria, they may need to make a big pivot into entrepreneurial life. So, and that's fascinating. So let's talk about it. So you've built the brilliant balance company. What do women come and talk to you about most often, when you're looking at those problems? What is one of the most pressing challenges that you see women facing today in the workplace? So we sum it all up as work life balance, right? That's the phrase that makes the most sense to people. I think that unpacks as sort of the three parts, like a three rung ladder, and typically when I'm interacting with somebody early on, we're trying to figure out which rung of that ladder are they stuck on? Where are things faltering, where they're afraid to climb higher, because it's all going to collapse? You know, and they don't have a strong foundation? The three kind of areas that people come to us for help with are, how do I manage my personal health and well being my energy level, if you will, right. So that I'm living my life with I would call it abundant, positive energy, like a sense of vibrancy, physically, mentally, emotionally, do I feel good in this body that I have in this mind that I'm using every day? Right? And contrast that with? Or am I rundown? Am I exhausted? Am I burned out? Am I overwhelmed? Am I physically out of shape? You know, Ill like that whole collection is what we're trying to get out of into that vibrant, energized, positive state. And I want to point out something interesting, as I hear you talking, I imagine there's a lot of women who are listening to this thinking, is that possible?Unknown:
I can actually feel that way every day. Right? It's so heartbreaking to me, that we have almost given up as a culture on that as a possibility. Right? I mean, would you agree that it's like our cultural narrative is it's not possible. And we we talk a lot about work life balance, but I don't see a lot of solutions. That make sense, you know, and or that really solve the problem. And that's why I think this is such a juicy conversation, because how do we actually solve it? So I want to get there with you. I would love you know, somebody listening today to have that aha moment where Yes, that's the thing. So can I finish this ladder so that peopleCherylanne Skolnicki:
bullies. Okay, so the first piece of it is, you know, can you live in energized day, right and feel fully powered up fully vibrant, most all of the time, when you learn how to do that, the next kind of bump in the road might be productivity. And that's the second thing people come to us to work on is, look, I just can't get it all done, I have too much to do not enough time to do it. I'm just running ragged from appointment to appointment, I have this growing to do list that never seems to get finished. It's never a done list, right? It's always to do. And, like, I feel like my time is not my own, that my time is going to everyone else. And I'm not really advancing my own work or my own priorities. And if we get that sorted, which we do, then the next kind of thing they bumped into is well, am I using all this energy? And am I using all this productivity for something that matters? White? Does it have purpose? Does it have? Meaning? Do I feel like it's similar to what I was sharing about my own journey? Right? If I'm going to do all this work? Do I care about the outcome enough that it feels like I'm in alignment? Yeah. Okay. So when you have those three things kind of cranking, that's what I would describe as feeling like your life is in rhythm or your life is in balance, right? It's not some kind of pie chart allocation of your time that's evenly allocated to each child in your work. That's, I see a much more dynamic, vibrant model where, you know, it might be different from day to day and week to week, but we feel a sense of control a sense of grace in the transitions power. And that's the vision of balance that I think most of the women I've met are striving for. So you asked what gets in our way, like, Is it possible? Yeah. And I will tell you that fundamentally, there's one word of what is in our way. And it's the inability to make choices. Wow. Period. You know, drop the mic, right? I mean, that's it, if you have to re engineer this system, so that you wake up every day saying, I feel like I'm fully alive, I'm getting stuff done. And it's the right stuff, you have to be great at making choices. And collectively, that's a skill we really struggle with. So that's a lot of what I end up teaching inside of our community of clients is how do you build that skill, so that you can apply it to these elements of your life? So cherylin? What happens when people don't have sort of that muscle well built? Are they just spinning their wheels? You know, one of the things that kind of drives me crazy about work life balance topics, and not your topics? Because this is this is it. But a lot of people will say, Well, why don't you just go get your nails done? Yeah, should help. Right. And I'm like, stop telling women to get their nails done or get a bubble bath. That's like putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound. It's not Yeah. Yes. And I mean, unless that's really your preferred mechanism for downtime, you know, in rejuvenation, I would agree with you, I think. So when we're not good at choices, right? What do we do? And that's what we're not great at is pressing pause in our life long enough to assess like, what's working and what's not. And therefore, we default to little choices, like, for example, being told, go get a manicure, right? Or take a bath? That's a little choice to say, can you reclaim, you know, in a bath, 20 minutes in your day for yourself? So we're trying to say, can you make a choice, I think we get farther, faster with bigger choices with really just continuing to double click on what's not working until we find the root, which let me give you an example could be, you know, if you have your children in a school, that's 45 minutes away, and you drive them to that school in the morning, and then you drive home, and then you drive back to pick them up in the afternoon and you drive home. And anytime that they have an activity you're driving 45 minutes, Lord, okay, but that's real, right? That's a real example of if that woman comes into my community and says, I just don't know what I can do. I don't have enough time. Now, is there a choice involved here? Yes, a big one. Right. Your children's lives are going to change if you change their school, but you are going to reclaim massive amounts of time. Yeah, it might be relevant to think about a commute in the same way. People will say, Well, I have this job and the commute is, you know, an hour by train each way. And so we tend to look past those choices because once we've committed to the job or the school, we think, well it is what it is. Yeah, you know, and yet sometimes those bigger choices make a bigger impact faster. And then you can kind of fill in with some of the smaller choices about what are you going to protect time for? What are you going to say no to? You know what, we'll get the full force of your energy. I love this. Now, for those of you who are listening, I think it's very wise to take an assessment of where I mean, what I hear you saying Sherilyn is where is your energy getting sucked and drained out of you in ways that are not inspiring for you in ways that did not help you contribute to the world and bring your best gifts forward and help you shine? I would imagine one of the push backs that women are going to say is, but what if I make the wrong choice? Right, what do we do then? Or is there a wrong choice? How do we confront that natural resistance? It's sort of like when you said, Hey, well, I've made this decision, I'm going to stick with it. It's kind of like that sunk cost fallacy of like, well, we're already in, let's go, how do we overcome or address our fear of doing something wrong? Oh, it's so important, because the freedom here is in learning that you can unmake the choices or remake them, it goes back to that same metaphor, if you can't steer a parked car, I mean, steering is about remaking the choice, changing your mind changing direction. So there are so few choices in life that we cannot change, or unmake. There are a few, but precious few, many choices have consequences for changing them. Right, there might be a cost, someone might be disappointed, there might be, you know, we have to readjust and relearn something. But I unmake choices all the time, when they're not working, you know, because the definition of insanity is continuing to do it right and expecting different results. So it but I really do respect and I can I have a lot of empathy for building that muscle of learning to be comfortable with other people being uncomfortable, or yourself being uncomfortable as you make changes. There's so much freedom, I just said this to my mom, today, I said, I had a lot of decisions I had to make in the last couple of weeks. And I use a process I call the decision sprint where when I know my head is getting gunked up, I sort of lay out all these decisions on a paper and start making them cool. On the other side of those decisions. There's this domino effect, right? Because then you're executing those decisions, the mental freedom that comes from that from just deciding and then moving into action. Rare is the time that the consequence of changing my mind has been worse than I thought it was. It's almost always not as bad. You know. So I think we have to build some muscle, we have to get that bat with trying that as a collective of women. I think that's really powerful. What you just said, rarely changing the decision is was worse, yeah, than what you thought it was going to be. It's not, it's just another adjustment. I love this idea of sort of being in the driver's seat of your own life. And I see a lot of women who are trying to look 150 miles ahead. Mm hmm. When they can't even see sort of like what is surrounding them right now. And I think a lot of times, we can kind of try to look so far ahead. So I want to ask you, do you believe in long term planning, or do you believe in Hey, I just kind of have this goal out there, General destination? Let's see how the turns and you know, moving up the car, get me there? And maybe I'll adjust or how do you feel about that? In terms of long term planning? I think my thinking on this has evolved pretty dramatically over the last, let's say, decade or so I would have said, Oh, you have to have a long term plan. You know, you have to know what you're steering everything toward. And I've just had enough lessons handed to me and we all have in the last year, right? I mean, 2024 real is a was a case study in why long term planning is maybe not ideal. So when you realize that we have so much less visibility than we think we do so much less predictability over the long term. And we are growing and changing and what we're interested in changes. I am much more drawn to almost, you know, in the technology world, they would call it agile, like much more drawn to the idea of the Agile sprint, like up for right now. What are we steering towards? Sometimes when we talk about purpose with women, I call this lowercase p purpose. Like, what's my purpose for right now? What do I feel really attracted to or drawn to? Or excited about right now? And that when you bring your line of sight in, what you get is your vision improves, right? You're gonna say that seems so much clearer than trying to figure out your whole life purpose. Right. And guess what your life purpose ultimately is the collection of all of these smaller purposes like, you'll start to see themes, it'll help you steer. And sometimes there's a detour, you know, sometimes you have a sick child or a sick parent or a really big opportunity at work that is a short detour. That might not be your long term purpose, but is very important for you to pay attention to, you know, in a particular chapter. So, I guess long answer to a short question, I do think whenever you're feeling a little stuck about, I just can't get the clarity on a five year vision, a 10 year vision, bring your line of sight in a little closer, see if it becomes more crisp. And then remember, as you walk through this year, you have an entirely new vantage point to cast a vision for the following year, but you're in a different place. And so you see things differently from that point in the future. You know, I really love this advice. I turned 40 in 2020. And I was sort of reflecting on going from 20, to 40. And all of the changes that had occurred over the last 20 years. And I thought, Boy, I could not have written this story. If you had given me a pen and paper, I never could write a story. This, you know, with this many twists and turns and remarkable things and scary things and all kinds of different experiences that are going to happen and do happen to all of us. And so I really appreciate your advice on staying present. And looking for what's sparking you right now. Yeah, where is that spark and move towards it? I've heard you say that one of the dangers that we can all face is getting trapped in our heads, sitting in the car in park sitting in the car in neutral, not moving forward thinking about it, rolling it around endlessly. And I hope for those who are listening today, you feel inspired to take that first step. Because that is that's so exciting. So Sherilyn, let me ask you this, for our audience, what are a couple of key takeaways that you'd like to leave them with?Unknown:
Well, I think we should just go back to this kind of refrain that we've used throughout the day of you can't steer a parked car, because that notion of getting in motion, taking some kind of imperfect action, and recognizing that anything you are perceiving as possible failure is actually just the next turn in the road. You know, it's not an ending of the road. It's the next turn or bend or twist, that reframe has meant everything to me. I think it will mean everything to the people listening. I love that. That's so fun. There's this sort of meme I see on Facebook, where they say, hey, when something happens that you haven't expected, just yell, plot, twist, and keep moving forward. Yeah. And that's what it reminds me of. I absolutely love that. Our time together has flown by I have so enjoyed hearing you your wisdom. This has been incredibly inspiring. And for those who want to go a step further and learn more, how can they find you? That is so generous, the best thing to do is go to brilliant dash balance.com. That's our online home. There are free resources on the homepage links to all of our social accounts. I am, I would say primarily on Instagram and Facebook these days. And also links to the podcast, which is just called brilliant balance. Fabulous. Well, Cheryl, and thanks so much for joining us on brave by design. Thanks for having me. I want to thank you for joining me and remember to subscribe to your favorite app so you can stay up to date, and I would love your review. If you've enjoyed this episode. Please leave a review and comment on Apple podcasts. You can also keep in touch with me online. You can find me on LinkedIn and I'm also on Instagram at force of badassery. All that information will be available in the show notes. Until next time, stay brave