Donna 0:03 It’s been instilled in me almost that I cannot expect what my peers should expect because of who I am. And because of my race and because of the powers that be are just, that’s just not going to happen for me. I mean, I’m living the dreams, you know, I’m working full time remote from home, I don’t have to travel to the great company, my role will be expanded, I get to build and I mean, I’m really living the dream that I never thought I would have. So it’s exciting.
Blake Schofield 0:43 My name is Blake Schofield, founder and CEO of Connections Illuminated, mom to three, and former corporate executive who got tired of sacrificing my life for a comfortable paycheck. My mission is to change women’s perspectives about what is possible, empowering them with the tools to create greater impact at home and at work without sacrificing their health time, family or income. This is The Bridge to Fulfillment. Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Bridge to Fulfillment. Today, we are sharing Donna’s success story. And I’m really excited to share her story I can think back to when we had our our initial call talking about you joining the program and what to expect. And I think it was both of our hearts and desires that you would end up here today. So I’m really excited for you to be able to share what your journey has been like in these last few months, and help open up more possibility for women. So thank you, Donna, for joining me today.
Donna 1:42 Thank you for inviting me.
Blake Schofield 1:44 So can you share with our audience a little bit about you, your background, and what was going on in your life before we connected?
Donna 1:52 I’ve been in HR for, I guess, about 17 years now. And what I saw, of course, a post from you on LinkedIn. And I read through your content, and you know, you were sharing about how it’s possible to really have your dream job and to really have what you want. And I read it and I thought okay, yeah, right. And I was at a place in my career where I was tired of going through the same cycle over and over again, where I felt like I’m giving 150%, but still not really feeling valued or satisfied in what I was doing. And I didn’t want to keep moving from job to job trying to find what I thought would be the career that was going to make me happy. And so that’s really what prompted me to reach out to you. And you told me to look at some of the podcasts of your success stories, which I did. And even after watching those, I still felt like, well, that’s great for them. But that’s not going to work for me. And that’s really where I started this journey with The Bridge to Fulfillment.
Blake Schofield 3:12 Thank you for sharing that. I think your experience is very common. I hear that a lot. Either something like, I don’t understand how this is possible. Or I’m not sure that what I want really exist, or exactly what you said, there’s this sense of skepticism. Can you share with me a little bit about why were you so skeptical and what ultimately helped you sort of overcome that and say, I want to give this a shot, I want this for me.
Donna 3:39 I think going into it, there was a part of me that was skeptical, because I felt like I had a good job. And you know, I was getting paid decent money, some was a pretty good money. I was getting promoted. So there was some value there. So there was a part of me that felt like, I should be grateful for where I’m at. So why am I feeling this way? And so then, inwardly I would think, Oh, you’re so selfish, you’re not grateful and that kind of thing. So there was that piece. And then there was the piece as I went through the program that I realized came from, like just my upbringing of feeling like I always had to be better than because, you know, my parents in trying to prepare me to cope for the world and being you know, a black woman or even a black person in the world, instilled in me that I would always have to go above and beyond just to get even to where I got right. So I came into this program feeling like, I should be grateful for what I’ve achieved and what I’ve been allowed to achieve because of who I am. And so why am I still feeling unhappy? Because from the outside looking in, it wasn’t like I had a bad, you know, life, or that I wasn’t achieving, quote unquote, success. But I was not fulfilled. I did not feel bad You didn’t have the family time that I wanted to have. I was in a position where, you know, I was working a lot of evenings, I wasn’t managing my time properly. I wasn’t caring for myself. So I think that’s, I just didn’t know how I could maintain the level of the professional role that I had. And balance everything. I could not figure that out.
Blake Schofield 5:25 Has it been five years since I’ve been where you were? Did it almost seem impossible, right? Like as women, we’ve been promised so much about being able to have it all. And yet, I think when you look at decades, that’s not really true. Most women are overworked, exhausted, pulled in 1000 directions, trying to be the best mom, the best wife, the best leader, did it almost feel too good to be true? Like, there’s just no way that that’s actually possible.
Donna 5:55 Right? I mean, it felt like, the sacrifices I was making were sacrifices I had to make to have the career. You know, even working in HR, we were always trying to focus on that work life balance. And, you know, I had been told well, work life balance is up to the individual. And you know, it’s really subjective. You know, you you’re told all those things until you’re convinced yourself that well, is there really work life balance, and all that kind of stuff. And I think I felt like, Okay, well, I chose a career. So then I have to sacrifice my family. And I have to sacrifice these other things, because that’s what I chose. And so it did feel like I was expected to have my cake and eat it too. And that just wasn’t realistic. And so I settled into, this is my reality, I wanted to have a career, I wanted to make a certain income, I wanted to be in leadership. So these are the sacrifices I have to make to do that.
Blake Schofield 6:57 That is the exact same lie, I told myself the exact same lie, I have this very high power job. And that is what it takes. If you make a lot of money, or you have a really impactful role, you have to sacrifice. So there was something done in the stories of the women or in the conversation that you and I had that open enough possibility for you to say, I don’t know if it’s possible, but I’m ready to find out. Do you remember what that was?
Donna 7:26 While you shared your story with me. And I think the first time that I recognized that I was operating in a bad place, was when we first started talking about scarcity. And when I think about it, now, it’s such a simple, common sense concept that if you ask for what you want, or and you’re told no, you know, you said, Are you going to die? Is it the end of the world? Are you going to lose your job? Are you going to lose your house. And that hit me so much, because there were times in my life throughout my career, where I didn’t ask for what I wanted, I took exactly what I was given, I compromised in places where I felt like I had to because there was so many thoughts going through my head about the negative things that would happen if I actually had a conversation about the potential of getting to where I want it to be. And even after you share that concept, and start teaching us about that scarcity mindset, it still took me a while to recognize that’s how I was operating. And then it took me a while to get out of that, as we went through the program. My mindset still kept going back to well, yeah, but that’s good for her. But that’s not good for me. And I think a lot of that has to do with not only being a female, but it has to do with me being black, because it has been instilled in me almost that I cannot expect what my peers should expect because of who I am. And because of my race, and because of the powers that be are just that’s just not going to happen for me. I always considered myself confident and pretty transparent and pretty strong. But going through this process, show me that I might consider myself that but that is not home functioning at all.
Blake Schofield 9:35 There’s so much there to kind of unpack what hit me as you went through this is that you are creating change for the next generation. And isn’t that a beautiful thing? Right? Because most of us don’t understand that we are formed of beliefs that come from when we are little kids and our parents have done the best they can and they also had a very different experience the world can tell needs to shift. But yet some of these old fears and beliefs and behaviors continue until we find a generation of people willing to challenge and recognize that wait a second, maybe the way I’m operating or maybe what my beliefs are, aren’t true. And so I just first and foremost, want to give you kudos for that. Because what an amazing gifts you’ll give, and you already probably are giving to your family, to the people that you work with, for the impact that you’re able to make. And so that’s super beautiful. But I think the second thing that sort of hit me through your conversation, as you said, I feel like I was really competent person. And yet I realized that I was not operating that way. What happened for you, when you had that shift? And then what did it feel like to step into a different reality or a different future?
Donna 10:47 Well, there for me, you know, there were several aha moments throughout the program. One was a session where we were talking about just being present in the moment. And that was a real aha moment for me, because I don’t know if I ever took the time to really be present in the moment, just constantly striving and working. And then, like I said, once against the scarcity mindset, and your ability to really challenge me. So there were several times where, I mean, you just, you just laid it out, like, you know, you were very direct and very just challenged me about how I was thinking about myself and encouraged me, but at the same time, you were saying, you just have, you have to stop this because you are valuable, and that. And the other thing was that was significant to me was hearing the stories of the other women who were in the group, you know, especially being an HR, I can see and help empower other people, more so than I look at myself. And so knowing that, okay, I’m not the only one experiencing this, and I’m not the only and I really came into the program, really with a lot of guilt, for even feeling the way I was feeling, feeling like, you know, I’m not being loyal to the organization I’m working for, and I’m just always complaining. And, you know, it was just all these different negative thoughts that were going through my head. And the one thing that I really liked was, I came into the program with a vision of what I thought I wanted to do, because, you know, I was like, oh, I want to be a consultant, I want to do this, I want to do that. And the program really redirected me into thinking about is that really what you want to do, and, and helped me to weigh the cost and really recognize and it also did not? The program didn’t say to me that I had to leave the organization I was in, but gave me tools to be able to speak my voice and ask for the things that I needed so that I can make an informed decision about whether I really needed to leave that organization, right? Because automatically, you know, you think, Well, I just have to go because this just isn’t working for me. But I really had to do the program, I really got the opportunity to reevaluate if that’s really what needed to be done, or was I just not using my voice in the right way to see if I actually had the support, I need it, right? Because I mean, nobody’s a mind reader. So I think overall, it was like such a journey for me to have confidence, the confidence to know what I’m bringing to the table and the belief in myself that I can have this conversation, I can accept the outcome, either good or bad. And from there, I can make an informed decision. Before that, it was just me jumping to a lot of conclusions. Without any facts. Those were like aha moments that you would think by this time in my career, I would know. But I didn’t have the tools to know what to do or how to handle those things.
Blake Schofield 14:08 Here’s what I would say that first and foremost is beautiful to watch you learn and stand in your value and ask for what you want. I think by and large, the vast majority of women in the United States do not know how to do that. And so when you say I should have done this, it sort of breaks my heart is that think this is part of the problem. We beat ourselves up because we expect that we should know how to do everything. And if we can’t solve our own problems, something is wrong with us. And then in order to be successful, we have to be able to be self reliant and do everything on our own. And I think that was a huge part of what kept me stuck for so long in my career and in my life because it didn’t ask for help. I saw it as weak. I saw it as an expectation that I should know and so when I hear you say that I just want to say that because there probably was women listening right now. Who thinks that to themselves? And I gave this analogy the other day? What if you had never been hiking and you decided that you were going to hike Mount Kilimanjaro? Would you expect that you would know how to do that you would know what to put in your backpack, how long the journey would be, how to transverse write the road, know, you won’t be like, I need some help, I need to do some research, I need a guide. You would never expect that. But yet in our lives, we think well, I should know how to manage my time I should be able to bounce, I should know exactly what the right path for me is. I should know what my skills are and how to communicate them.
Blake Schofield 15:38 And yet, right, we forget that number one, either, we’ve never had this experience before. Number two, we all can’t see the label from inside the bottle. None of us, I don’t care how talented you are. And I have been in the room literally, with some of the most talented people could possibly imagine and they can’t see it. And then the third thing we’re human, so we all have blind spots. We all have limiting beliefs that we can’t see, because it’s the framework of how we view life. And so the framework of how you view life, the belief systems and the fears that you had didn’t enable you to see anything different, right? There wasn’t no shut. It was where you were in, like the evolution of your life and your growth. Does that make sense? Does that feel true to you, Donna?
Donna 16:25 Yeah, especially the part about asking for help, I think we feel like we have to, we get to a certain level where we have to be self reliant, and to not be self reliant is is is weakness to some extent. And so I wasn’t one to really ask for help, or to seek out help, you know, this coaching experience, and really taking the time to really focus on myself in a way that, you know, I don’t know that I’ve really ever done, you know, setting the time up in the morning to really go through my morning magic, and to really work through my affirmations and all of those types of things was very important. And then just the time setting the time aside during the day to even come to the groups and the sessions and things like that was very significant to me and important. And I found myself really valuing those moments, even if I didn’t have anything to share, there was just value in and listening and learning from the various coaches and from the other other women in the program.
Blake Schofield 17:39 And what shifted for you about asking for help, how do you view asking for help now?
Donna 17:43 As I was, you know, considering other roles and options, you know, you coach me on really speaking to my existing leaders, which I did and follow that instruction. And there were times when that went really well. And I could see a difference and a light at the end, it opened up a relationship between me and that leader, that was much better. But then I think one thing was how much am I willing to really compromise? And do I have to continue to compromise. And so this part was kind of difficult for me, because, you know, coming into the program, I was working, and I had a good job, and I couldn’t afford to just leave my job. And so as I began weighing my options and making informed decisions, I had to consider how much I was willing to compromise. And sometimes that scarcity mentality would creep back in. And I would think, you know, well, Tom, what are you doing, you know, you you have a good job. And then as I started networking with people, and you know, sometimes people reached out to me for different things, I had the confidence to really say, what I was willing to accept and what I was not. For me that was a first if it had been more money, but there were compromises in there before this program, I would have thought, Oh, well, you better take it because nothing else better is going to come along. But I was able to sometimes say no, that’s not for me. I have a job. It’s not the end of the world. And I felt from the program that I knew that this would not be the only opportunity that was going to come around and I was able to recognize also what type of organization would be best for me from going through all of the exercises in the program and learning what I was looking for where my skill set really was what I have to offer and I had never really looked at looked at that either. You know, I just gone from Okay, well, you know, you did your research for the company and if they were paying you well they had decent As it benefits, that kind of thing, but there was so much more informed decisions going into my move this time. And there was a level of patience that I had, that I wouldn’t have had before. Because I would have been operating from that scarcity mindset, that is huge for me. And because today is actually my last day, at my old job, and I did get a new job with a wonderful company, making more money, they gave me what I asked for, I wanted to maintain my level of PTO and I was able to ask for that and not just accept what they were giving me. And they really worked with me and came up with a package that, but in the past, before this program, I would probably would have never negotiated those things, I would have went into it thinking oh was the best I can get once I get in there and I do a good job, they’ll see and they’ll give me this. And they’ll give me that. And they’ll give me that. And in the past that never happened. And I was able to leave my current role on great terms, being very transparent about what wasn’t working for me so that they can hopefully make improvements for somebody else.
Blake Schofield 21:20 I’m so excited for your new job. And we’ll dig into that just ominous because such an amazing opportunity. There’s a couple things we haven’t hit on that I think are important to your story that are very common that I see. One of the things that was going on in your job that you were in where you weren’t feeling valued, as you had been promoted, they had moved you to a role where they asked to travel a lot. And that really was against the lifestyle that you wanted for yourself for your family, there was this push pull you felt personally not not fulfilled in the work, but also right not valued, not heard. And I remember at the very beginning of the program, man, your your schedule was crazy, which is very common for a lot of women who come in your schedule is really crazy. If I think back to the first moment, when I started to really see the shift for you. It came in some of the shifts in the scheduling, and the challenging how you were looking at and prioritizing your time, how you were putting up everyone else ahead of yourself how you weren’t asking for what you needed. We haven’t talked about that at all. And yet, that’s something I hear is like a consistent challenge for so many women, anything you’d want to share around that, like what your schedule used to look like, what you learned and how that’s enabled you right to have more space in your day and feel more accomplished at the end of the day,
Donna 22:42 Coming into the program, you know, I wouldn’t say no, I would take it on and get it done. Because I felt like that’s what I’m supposed to do. And the culture of the organization I was at, it’s a very fast paced culture, very, you know, challenging. And then on top of that, I think COVID made it even harder, because, you know, whereas before you you might have 15 minutes to get to the next conference room. Now everything was virtual. So my calendar was like back to back to back to back with meetings. And I really had to set aside some what I learned was high leverage time and block off some focus times and things on my calendar, and then discipline myself not to schedule over those times. And I also made sure that the meetings that I really thought were priority and important, like, you know, one on ones with my direct reports and things like that, that I was maintaining those and keeping those and not scheduling over, those are things that could wait. So I learned how to say no, I learned how to shut down at a certain hour so that when I’m home, I’m present with my daughter and my husband, you know, because before I would be in meetings all day, and then I had to come home and actually get my work done with the high leverage time and the focus time, I was able to get more work done during the day. And sure I still had some nights where I might have to work but they were far and few between. Because I was prioritizing my time and my family time and time for me more so than I was for work. And I guess where my real mentality changed was the fact that I was prioritizing those things. overwork, did before I would have felt like oh, I’m not doing a good job. This is not how a executive level professional work. But I had to recognize that by doing that it made me better at work. And it made me more it took away so much anxiety too because I just I was just not shutting down at home. Just constantly working, constantly working. I think the management of my time and learning that it’s okay to say no It’s okay to maybe push back on a deadline and say, well, when do you absolutely need this and those types of things. And I found out that none of my leadership looked at me less than for doing that. That was huge, right? I always felt like, Oh, I’m gonna, they’re gonna look at me as though I’m not capable, or they’re gonna think I’m weak. If I do this, that was not the case. Nobody even said anything. You know, so it was my mindset. They didn’t say, Oh, well tell me you’re not doing a good job, because you’re choosing to actually be off at 5:30. It was my mindset. And none of my leaders said, Oh, whoa, you’re you’re not you’re not director level material. Now, because you’re not doing this. It actually made me a better employee, a better co worker, a better wife, a better mother, by managing that time, appropriately.
Blake Schofield 25:53 Awesome. Thank you for sharing today’s your last day, kudos to you. What’s amazing is all these things that you’re sharing these improvements that you’ve had the things you’ve learned about managing your time building stronger relationships inside the organization, where it have been from the old job. And I often try to tell women, right, when you feel like it, there’s no way it can improve, right, and then it’s just the toxic boss or the toxic environment, I always say, your circumstances are only part of the problem. And if you don’t solve the root, cause you’ll just carry it with you. And I think you’ve just so beautifully shown how that’s true. And you’re gonna take all of these wonderful lessons and empowerment and new perspectives to your next job. And love, love even more than that. So you got this amazing job. Tell us a little bit, you know, of what you’re comfortable sharing. Were there specific things you learned in the interview process that you did differently, this time with different skills or tools? And yeah, ultimately, what does that look like? Are you doing the exact same type of work in the same type of industry? What did you shift,
Donna 26:55 I shifted industries. And honestly, if it were not for the travel, because of this program, I really was at a good place with my leadership at my previous organization, because I was able to, you know, be very transparent and own my own voice. And the leadership at my previous company respected that and we were on a good path, there was a lot of travel, and I did not want to compromise there, my daughter’s 12. And she doesn’t like me traveling, my husband didn’t want me traveling. And still, and I did use my voice and speak to my leadership before I even accepted the offer to see if there were some alternatives. So I guess the main thing I’m trying to say there is your program was not just like, it helps me even where I was, where I came into the program thinking, Oh, I have to get out of here. It helped me see that that’s not necessarily the case. But I’m not necessarily using my voice and speaking up to the point where I can even see if this will work. And so I it is a different industry. And I’m still in HR capacity, but a different, a different specialization within HR, because I was in diversity inclusion. And now I’m going to be more talent management, which I’m excited about. Because, you know, I love helping to develop people in that kind of thing. And it is a different industry, but still a customer service type of industry in the in the basis that with like mental health kinda. And I’m excited about it, because I went into the interview process, and I was very transparent with what I was looking for. I was transparent with why I was considering new opportunities. They respected everything I said, they understood everything I said, and they came back with a wonderful offer. And I’m really excited about it. And I’m leaving my current role on great terms and going into a new role with a great organization. I mean, I’m living the dream, you know, I’m working full time remote from home, I don’t have to travel to the great company, my role will be expanded, I get to build in I mean, I’m really living the dream that I never thought I would have. So it’s exciting. It was really good. And it was hard work. But it was all worth it. And it was worth the investment. It was worth the time. And I must say the women in my group, we still keep in touch. And matter of fact, we have a Zoom meeting next week we’ve had two Yeah, so the women in my group every once in a while we’ll get a Zoom meeting on to see how each other is doing and then we’re still keeping in contact. So I would recommend the experience to anyone who is just not sure of where you are or if you’re in the right space, because the worst case, the worst thing that could happen was, and that’s not even a worst thing. I couldn’t have stayed at my existing company had it not been for that travel component. Because of the program, I was able to really build relationships with my leaders and really learn how to manage different situations differently.
Blake Schofield 30:24 Yeah, it can be challenging to look in the mirror, and see the places in our life where we are, maybe are just proud of or we don’t feel as great about. But I’m interested in your perspective, I’ve spent a lot of time and energy doing this type of work in the last five years. And I actually think and understand now for me, the way I see it is, you choose your heart, I would far rather see the reality and grow into the person I want to become then the hard every day of second guessing myself, of my mind never turning off of me not feeling good enough of all of the stuff. That was the hard that was my everyday life before. How do you feel about that thinking about that the the challenge or the hardness of having to challenge your assumptions, your beliefs, versus what your day to day now feels like as a result of having done that, and
Donna 31:20 I would do it all over again, I would definitely do it all over again.
Donna 31:25 Because of the end result, I now feel confident in speaking my true voice, you know, and if I, if I feel like I can’t do something, or just, you know, don’t have the time, it’s okay. I don’t believe that people will think less of me for maybe not taking on every issue and problem at the same time. And I believe that there are people who and I know, as a matter of fact, because of the new role, that there are people who are going to meet me and recognize my value, be willing to compensate me for that value, and not just the compensation piece, but be able to look at what you’re saying and really hear you. And so I think because i There were so many times in the past where I would say something. But the leadership did not hear me. You know, they didn’t hear me. And I also know that from the program, that that was oftentimes the way I said it, right? Because one thing like you always did was challenged me in, like when I would send them my questions in the power of questions, you would always come back and say, Okay, well, I need more clarity, because you’re not. And I realize now that maybe I wasn’t being totally clear. Maybe I wasn’t being as direct as I needed to be. Because you’re always trying to be that politically correct person and trying to, you know, sandwich it between this and that, and all that. And so in throughout this interview process, you know, I was very clear, you know, with what I can do, and you know, that I do not want to travel and, you know, willing to compromise and what I was not willing to compromise, I was extremely clear. And I was able to put aside that scarcity mentality that said, Okay, well, if they can accommodate that I have a job. And it might not be exactly what I want right now. But I do have a job. And I don’t think I would have been able to do that had it not been for the program.
Blake Schofield 33:44 And as a result of right showing up in your truth, you allow the unexpected, wonderful opportunities to come your way and recognize that if it’s not the right fit, it’s not the right fit. And then there will be something else. super beautiful. Thank you, Donna, I’ll wrap up with this final question for you. Is there anything I should have asked you that I didn’t? Or anything you just feel in your heart that you want to share that you haven’t shared yet?
Donna 34:11 I just would say to women who feel like you know, you have to continually sacrifice that you don’t that yeah, there’s a period where maybe until you get there, you know, you might have to sacrifice or something but not to give up on what you really want or injury. I never imagined that I would be making what I’m making in a full time remote role. I came into this program feeling like if I’m gonna go full time remote, I’m gonna have to take a cut in pay. And that is not the case. And I never imagined that I will be working for a great organization who actually valued me Listen to me, I never imagined that it so I would say to the women who are strong Dealing with, okay, you can do it. You’ll have to put the work in and you’ll have to be willing to sometimes be uncomfortable. But it can be done.
Blake Schofield 35:08 Awesome. Thank you. And thank you for being here to listen to Donna’s story. I hope that there have been a couple of things that really hit you today as you’ve listened to this and opened up the possibility for your life and for your career. Until next time, have a great one. Thank you. Thank you so much, Donna. Thanks for joining me today. Rather than hope the grass will be greener, identify what the right next step is. We can help you do just that. Get clarity on where you are in your journey to career fulfillment, where you’re headed, optimal paths to get there, and the right next step to take. Start your complimentary personalized career fulfillment plan at www.thebridgetofulfillment.com/plan. Again, you can get your personalized career fulfillment plan at www.thebridgetofulfillment.com/plan. Thanks again for joining and have a great week ahead