This too shall pass: nothing lasts forever. If you look back in history, all dramatic events eventually came to an end. This is no exception. Focusing on what you can do instead of what you can’t do, will bring a lot more comfort into your life. Instead of thinking that you can’t go out for a dinner date, think about how much fun it would be to learn how to make pasta with your significant other. For me, I focused on enjoying my children. We complain all the time that time flies and that our children grow up so fast. I got the chance to watch them grow and be with them every day. I wouldn’t of had that chance had it not been for this pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of my series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eloise Gagnon.
Eloise Gagnon was an international corporate lawyer for over fifteen years before transitioning as an executive coach and business strategist. Grounded in her experience working with business leaders in Europe and the Middle-East, she now helps business owners and top executives get clear on their purpose, their vision and their mission so they can share their message and have the impact they are looking for.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Yes of course, with pleasure. I have to start by saying that I loved working as an international lawyer. I got to travel the world and work with amazing business leaders and executives. I wasn’t looking for a new career. Then one day, I was working with a client in Dubai and he said to me: “you know, all that you are sharing with me and all the work we are doing together… You should be a coach. I think that’s your calling.”
At the time, I didn’t even know what a business coach or an executive coach was. I was training for triathlons and I thought, “well I don’t want to be a swim coach or a nutrition coach”. That’s all I knew of coaching.
But he had piqued my curiosity and so I started looking into business coaching and it felt like something I was naturally called to do.
At the time all of this was happening, I was working for my father’s company. I shared with him my wish to leave the company, to no longer work as a lawyer and to transition into coaching. He gave me his blessing and said he knew I was meant for this type of work. Three days later he unexpectedly passed away. Having his blessing before he passed meant everything to me and fuels me every day to be the best coach I can be.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
I think my story, similar to the one of many entrepreneurs, is a story of perseverance, discipline and commitment to a higher purpose.
When I started my coaching practice, I sent out 2,000 individualized emails. Pretty much everyone I had ever met got an email informing them of my new career path and the services I was now offering.
Only 2 people got back to me: one person wished me luck in me new endeavor and said that maybe we’d work together in the future; and the other one told me they would report me because I had sent an unsolicited email.
I was incredibly discouraged… for about 24hours. And then I got to work.
I knew I had a message to share and I knew I could help others with my knowledge and experience. So I grounded myself in my purpose and kept going.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I do a lot of 1-on-1 coaching and workshops but I wanted to come out with something that had a broader reach. I am working on a Masterclass set to come out in September 2020. This Masterclass will help new entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners and top executives alike, learn the fundamentals of having a clear purpose, vision and mission.
In all of my more than 15 years as an international corporate lawyer, the one thing I noticed about successful business owners and top executives is that they all had a very clear reason for doing what they were doing and a very clear vision and mission for their business and their life.
Not surprisingly, when working with people who struggled, I noticed a lack of focus in their vision, an unclear purpose and a mission that was never really defined.
When you are unclear of your purpose, your vision and your mission, the message you send to customers and clients is also unclear. Your decision process is also unclear because you don’t know what to base your decisions on. Same goes for knowing what opportunities to focus on, what employees to hire, what to build your corporate culture around.
Having a clear and defined purpose, vision and mission also allows you, as a person, to lead a fulfilling life.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My father was my greatest mentor. From the time I was a little girl, he instilled in me a powerful growth mindset. As an entrepreneur himself, he also showed me the value of discipline, hard work and perseverance. He always made it a point to remind me that even though I was a woman, in a mostly male-dominated world, I had my place and I had a voice that needed to be heard. He passed away before he could witness me succeed as an executive coach, but it is the life long lessons he taught me that make me the person I am today.
My mom is also a great mentor to me. To this day, at 76 years old, she stills helps me with client proposals and business strategies. As an entrepreneur herself also, I watched her make so many sacrifices for my sister and I. It’s only now, as a mom and entrepreneur myself that I can appreciate all that she did for us.
No matter how busy she was, I always felt like she was there for me. I know now how much harder she had to work in order for her business to thrive and succeed like it did and yet, still be an amazing mom. She is a great mentor and role model.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
On March 13th, I picked up our boys from their daycare and was informed that the daycare was closing until further notice due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I remember sitting in the car with my 2 and 4-year-old thinking: “ok, we need to get organized, fast!”
It took a few days for my husband and I to really wrap our heads around what was happening and to come up with a game plan. We’ve had many initial failed attempts but we kept trying to find something that would work for us and eventually, we did.
Our boys, especially the youngest, didn’t understand why mommy was home but unavailable to play.
At the same time, I was being even more sought after as people were either taking this time to review their business model and foundations or they were feeling overwhelmed by the whole situation and needed support.
Eventually, my husband and I devised a split schedule of days we would each get some work done and days we would spend together as a family.
My morning routine that once consisted of waking up at 5am to meditate, do yoga and journal became a morning routine that started at 4:30am for a quick meditation and yoga practice before doing client work.
The biggest challenge for me was balancing my time between my boys, my clients and myself. I had to be mindful that my boy’s routine had also been disrupted and they needed time to adapt and fun activities to do, that my clients were going through something difficult and needed support and that I myself, needed time to breathe and refuel or else I wouldn’t last however long this needed to last for.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I think what saved me is focusing on the present moment.
If I’m playing with my boys, then I’m playing with my boys. I’m not thinking about work or an email I need to send. Same thing when I’m working, I stay focused on the now.
I find that helps me avoid the overwhelm or wishing the situation was different. It simply is what it is and what is now, is what I focus on.
Can you share the biggest work-related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
I think that as a woman, I feel a lot of responsibility to take care of my family and be available for my children. It’s very hard for me to work while my boys are begging for my attention.
I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to be everything for everyone. This pandemic really highlighted that aspect of my personality and I’ve had to keep myself in check in order to maintain my energy to sustain all the demands.
Being a woman in business is hard. Being a woman in business at home with two toddlers is very hard. But at the end of the day, it’s about grounding myself in what matters most.
I made the choice to be a mom and I made the choice to have my own business. And so I choose to focus on the now (Eckhart Tolle has been my saving grace during this time.)
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
It’s really been about sticking to a routine, focusing on the task at hand and ultimately, enjoying how things are, for what they are. Without wanting things to be different.
Every time I would say “oh I wish…” I would stop myself and rephrase it. I didn’t even want to give myself the chance to finish that sentence.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
I think that for us it was a matter of taking the first few weeks to understand what this new family dynamic was going to be like and what each member of the family needed in order to function properly.
Eating healthy, exercising, going to bed early and getting fresh air everyday (even when it rained) was mandatory for everyone. We realized that kept us all sane.
We also had a schedule that we followed on most days with set time for meals, fun activities, quiet time and work time. Again, focusing on the now was essential to staying sane because it rarely ever went as planned.
But at least our schedule gave us something to fall back on.
We also didn’t put pressure on ourselves.
If you scrolled through social media, there were all these challenges and underlying messages that if you didn’t learn a new skill or start a business or do something absolutely amazing during quarantine you were wasting your time.
I let that boat sail.
To me, what was important was taking care of my family and loved ones, taking care of my clients and taking care of myself. And that was plenty enough.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
It comes back to focusing on the now. If you constantly think about how you wish the situation was different or what you wish you were doing instead and how things were better before this pandemic, then you will definitely feel the anxiety and discomfort of the current situation.
Focus your energy on what is happening now. Even when my 2-year-old is having a meltdown, I just stay there and try to calm him down. Thinking about how I wish he wasn’t screaming or how I wish we could all go play at the park instead of being here in this kitchen, won’t do me or him, any good.
It’ll stress me out even more.
So I stay with it all, knowing full well, this too shall pass.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
As hard as this pandemic hit, I believe there is also a silver lining. So much that we enjoyed and took for granted, like going for a walk after dinner with our neighbor, was momentarily taken away from us. And so I think that it brought to our attention just how much we have to be grateful for.
- Gratefulness: I’m an extrovert and I love being around people. I realized just how much other people’s good energy fuels me. This pandemic has given me a renewed gratefulness for the people around me. I made it a point to connect everyday with someone I care about, simply to express my gratitude for having them in my life. I didn’t want anyone in my circle (large and small) to feel isolated or neglected.
- This too shall pass: nothing lasts forever. If you look back in history, all dramatic events eventually came to an end. This is no exception. Focusing on what you can do instead of what you can’t do, will bring a lot more comfort into your life. Instead of thinking that you can’t go out for a dinner date, think about how much fun it would be to learn how to make pasta with your significant other. For me, I focused on enjoying my children. We complain all the time that time flies and that our children grow up so fast. I got the chance to watch them grow and be with them every day. I wouldn’t of had that chance had it not been for this pandemic.
- New normal: this time has been a great opportunity to reflect on yourself and what is currently going on in your life. The question now is, do you want to go back to how things were before the pandemic or is there anything in your life you would like to change? And if so, what can you do now to start changing what doesn’t suit you anymore. Stepping into a new normal can be a wonderful thing. You don’t have to go back to how things were if that doesn’t feel right. But you do have to ask yourself what it is that you want and what is the purpose of your life. Those answers will guide you.
- Free everything (almost!): There is so much free content out there right now. More then ever, professionals, experts and gurus are sharing their knowledge, expertise and wisdom for free, on various platforms. Whether you want to get in shape with a world-renowned trainer or learn to meditate or attend a virtual seminar, you can do it all for free. There’s been this beautiful connectedness in the world and an outburst of generosity. If you are looking to deepen a skill, learn a new practice or simply listen to fascinating people, it’s available.
- Decluttering: We are all so busy. We buy things that accumulate somewhere in our house, our car, our garage… This pandemic has allowed us to declutter our homes, making space for openness and new opportunities. In turn, this physical cleaning has allowed us to do some internal decluttering as well. Allowing new things to come in, maybe new habits replacing bad ones
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Be present. Make sure you reach out to your loved ones and your family. Not by text but by a phone call or even better, by a visual connection through Zoom or Facetime or any other app.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
This too shall pass… It has taught me to enjoy the present moment, for whatever it brings. If it’s a bad and uncomfortable situation or outcome, learn from it and use it to grow, because it will pass. If it is a wonderful and pleasant experience, remember it and learn from it, because it will pass.
That has helped me tremendously in letting go of bad outcomes, without dwelling on it, and celebrating beautiful moments.
How can our readers follow you online?
Readers can find me on Linked In at: www.linkedin.com/in/eloise-gagnon
On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eloisegagnon_strategist/
Or on my website: www.eloisegagnon.com
I also publish a weekly newsletter with loadds of tips and insights on finding clarity in purpose, vision and mission. You can sign-up here: https://mailchi.mp/9882bb32c5b1/success_built_on_purpose
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!