We had the good fortune of connecting with Whitnie Wiley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Whitnie, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
At one point, I didn’t think about balance. I didn’t need to. Life was easy and I just did what I wanted. It wasn’t until I found myself with competing priorities and limited resources, namely, having to juggle the demands on my time as a mom and a law student, that balance was a pervasive issue. All of the sudden, I had to make decisions about what was most important and how to make sure all the things that were important got done. Many people don’t believe that balance is possible and look to use other words to describe the essence of what we want to feel. Whether you use the term integration, harmony or any other, the key to getting where you want to go is understanding your values and priorities, establishing boundaries with yourself and other people. The way I managed was to get real with myself about what I could do and what I couldn’t. Getting a handle on my time also meant being real with myself about what was ultimately most important and learning how, when possible, to accomplish multiple things at the same time. For instance, being able to study while at my son’s ball practice or working out. Instead of going outside for a run, I could get on the treadmill or stair master while reading. Or when available, listen to lessons on tape on my walkman while pushing weights around. Yes, I did just reveal my age with that one. The bottom line, when I was honest with myself about what I wanted and examined the resources I had available, I was able to find a way to do the things that mattered most. My highest priorities were my son and my health. Because I was divorced from his father and we had joint custody, I was able to arrange most of the things I wanted or needed to do that didn’t involve him when he was at his father’s house. A few years after completing law school and working in a job that I was not enjoying, I realized I needed to find a new approach to balance. Instead of simply competing priorities, I was spending the majority of the day in an environment and with people I didn’t enjoy. The result was my energy was constantly drained, and under the continuous stress of being unhappy. By that point, I had also gone through the darkest and toughest period of my life involving the death of my son. Balance become more about my emotional wellbeing, not just time management and physical health. The turning point was deciding I wanted to take control of my life, then getting clarity on what I wanted my life to look and feel like. My vision was a life I didn’t need a vacation from and one in which I stopped doing things that I didn’t enjoy. The transition truly came from asking the priority questions that were not just focused on the short term, but projecting out my emotions, energy and the repercussions over the long haul. The picture was not one I wanted to live and that meant having to take control once again in a new way. Today, I make the time regularly to review what’s working or not in my life and the micro adjustments I choose are in pursuit of the overall vision I have for my life. Honoring the boundaries I’ve set to protect what’s important and letting the rest go without guilt or condemnation.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My career has been defined by fits and stops. There were times when I thought I knew what I wanted, only to run into roadblocks that I either chose not to or simply couldn’t overcome. In looking back, I know lack of vision and action caused the results I was getting. One of the lessons that I’ve learned through my various life and career transitions is the importance of having a vision, even if it’s not all inclusive. Along with a vision, one needs to be connected to a why. The first profession I remember wanting to be was a doctor. An older cousin also wanted to be a doctor. Because in my kid logic I didn’t want to follow in her footsteps, I decided I would become a lawyer instead. As we got older, my cousin started to have challenges in school and eventually her dream of college and becoming a doctor failed to materialize. I then turned back to my desire to be a doctor. Without getting into every twist and turn over the next few years, I spent a lot of time not knowing what I wanted to do, until I finally settled on becoming an education lobbyist. While that never happened, it was the reason I went to law school and put me on the path to becoming a lobbyist representing public water agencies for almost two decades. During this period of my life, I became dissatisfied with the work I was doing and the direction of leadership, so I began planning for my next phase which was to help organizations do leadership better. When organizational leaders recognize they are in partnership with their employees and improved leadership leads to better employee relations, they can begin to reap the rewards of lower turnover, healthier cultures and improve their bottom line. It is this work that I want to be a part of.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The beautiful thing about California is that there are so many wonderful and interesting things to do and places to visit. One of my favorite activities is wine tasting and art viewing. Last year, for the first time, I visited the wineries of the Central Coast. While I love the wines in the Napa Valley, we have so much more to offer. When my friend comes to town, I would plan a trip that would take us through a number of the less publicized wine regions. As much as I love sharing a good bottle of wine, it’s not just about the wine, but getting educated about the grapes, wine making process and meeting new people. I’d start near home and visit wineries and art galleries in the Amador Valley and Lodi. Then drive over to Monterey and Carmel to visit the various art galleries and have dinner at a couple of restaurants including Mission Ranch for fabulous food, service and if it’s not too foggy a great view. From there we would head down to the Paso Robles wine region, Los Olivos for olive oil tasting and make a stop in Solvang for more art and a touch of Danish influence. To wrap up the trip we’d head to Temecula for more wine and good food. What excites me about this trip and what I think my guest would appreciate as well would be the extended opportunities to both meet new people in each location and spend time getting to know each other better on a road trip. It’s an adventure I could make multiple times because each time would be totally different by visiting new wineries we’d never been to before.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would not be where I am without the love and support of my family, friends and a few key resources for which I am grateful every day. My gratitude practice is not only about acknowledging my blessings daily, but publicly and privately expressing them regularly to the people who are in my life. At the top of the list is my loving husband. Michael encourages me daily to be the best me possible. Additionally, he supports all my crazy ideas from running 200-mile relay races to speaking on the grandest stages. My first supporters were my parents, Billie and Al McVay. They helped me believe that I was capable of doing anything I wanted and encouraged me to do so. While my father is no longer alive, my mother continues to be supportive of every endeavor and proud of all my accomplishments. Other supportive family members include my brother, Marques and sisters, Eenita, and Greer who is also my Life, Lemons & LemonDrops podcast co-host. As it relates to the forward momentum of my business, without my strategic partners, Robert Hilliard, Coach Melody McClellan, Claudette Anderson, Cathleen Elle, Catherine Ford and Sarah King Taylor, I would still be trying to find my footing. They provide accountability and help keep me focused on the mission of improving other people’s lives. In addition to the people in my life, there have been many books and programs that have played a part in my growth and success. Primary among them are the following that have helped me develop my business philosophies and the skills that have propelled me over the past couple of years to where I am: The Bible, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza, Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Mark T. Keene’s Transformation Mastermind, Patty Aubrey’s Permission Granted, Jake Ballentine’s Influencer’s Mastermind, and Andrew Eggelton’s The Presenters’ Start Up. Last but not least, I am grateful to God for everything I am and all that I’ve accomplished, because I recognize all my gifts, talents, abilities and opportunities are all from him.
Other: www.goforgoalsap.com/whitnie-wiley www.lifelemonslemondrops.com www.beyondyourbestplan.com