Gisele Aubin, a driven professional in her field was more often on airplanes than home. Always on the run, she left no time for a life. Her most faithful companion was her BlackBerry, and she had started thinking about dumping it. When the company she works for was sold, Gisele knew the time had come to make the changes she needed. At that point, jumping off the corporate ladder seemed to be her best way out.
But when Gisele made her landing, she realized that her challenges were not those she had expected. She had no idea what to do next.
In this memoir, author Gisele Aubin shares her experience of turning her career around in order to create a more fulfilling life. Building on the knowledge gained through her experiences, Gisele provides an insight into what to expect when creating the successful change needed in your life. And it’s not what you think. Her message is that change is incremental and manageable if you are willing to take it one day at a time, let go of who you think you ought to be, and become the person you truly are.
I am a single mom of fifty something; a Human Resources Executive living in Vancouver with my family in Montreal, my office in Florida, my boss in Ohio, my team scattered around the world, and my best friends in Quebec City. For the last twenty years, Human Resources have been my professional arena, more particularly Corporate America. For the last three months, staying in or leaving that environment has been my personal dilemma, namely the anxiety around starting all over again when I am not sure of what I want to do, but still want to push forward anyway. This is not the first time I start over again. I did once when my marriage blew up. Now, I am in a similar place minus the crisis. This time it is intentional. It may be a desired state, but it is a scary one. I am not starting with a business and a marketing plan. I am starting cold turkey with no idea of what lies ahead. All I have is the stubborn conviction that there’s got to be more out there. Work, much as life, ought to be on the plus side. At least this is how I want my balance sheet to read. So, Monday morning, 5 a.m.: Mondays are always a hard start. My colleagues are on the East Coast and I on the West Coast. Before my day begins I am already behind. Every other week I get on a plane, fly 2800 miles diagonally across North America to spend the week at my Florida office. Sounds like a vacation destination but it is no picnic. When the cab pulls in the driveway at 9 a.m., I have held several calls, answered a myriad of emails and gotten most balls in the air. My secretary made sure I have all the highlights of the day. This way I can work on the plane and be ready to reply when I am on the ground in Chicago for my 90 minute connection. Coordination is the word here. Juggling with a running laptop, passport and boarding pass while crushing my phone on my shoulder, I am one of the last passengers to board. What is a girl to do when boarding starts before the download is completed? Efficiency is sometimes a matter of seconds…. Ninety minutes on the ground in Chicago. I have my routine down pat. I welcome the endless walk from terminal B to terminal F. It is soothing, when your phone is not ringing that is. O’Hare has improved so much over the years it is noteworthy. I used to think that I should seriously look into getting a boyfriend in Chicago. I spent so many nights there by myself in some remote Quality Inn, or whichever hotel was available on the shuttle route. Stranded passengers they used to call us. This was the way to identify those poor losers who had flown in on a late flight and missed their last connection out on account of weather, heavy traffic, gate change or whatever else came up! Had I done that, the relationship would probably be but a picture on my wall now that the vast majority of flights do connect. The food has also improved. Now I have my favorite places and food. I actually look forward to the usual fruit and feta cheese salad from La Tapenade at gate B4. You know that you are in serious need of a life when excitement is a tossed salad at an airport terminal. On a good day, I have time to eat it on the spot. On a not so good day, I take it with me on the plane. Not everybody appreciates the smell of feta cheese I have noticed. On a bad day, I skip the salad all together and starve. Starvation is always better than airline food. On any good day though, once I have gulped my salad, I make it to the lounge, recharge my laptop battery, never mind my own, and send/receive the next wave of email. This is the endless pas de deux. Truly, this is the ongoing cycle of life in Corporate America. At least it was mine. Of course, it did not start out that way. It was not intended for me to commute from Vancouver to Florida, nor was it intended that we would sell the division. But shift happens. Life happens. Between the time I joined this company and the time we decided to sell it, 2008 came and went and, as they say, the rest is history. What was intended to be an exciting global expansion initiative turned out to be a laser sharp downward single focus spiral, as sharp as sensitive surgery would require. Not unlike a life crisis. Luckily for me, I already knew what it took: head down, eyes on the ball, learn to breathe through clenched teeth and don’t make other plans just yet. Boarding again. Laptop still running. Freedom is when they close the aircraft door, and you have to shut everything down. The next leg of my journey is only two hours. I am roughly twelve hours into my day. Outside the aircraft window, it is dark already. The passengers have shifted from reading the morning paper or working on their laptop to reading Grisham or their favorite magazines. Some are sleeping. For the most part, their day is over. They are heading home. Me? I am still on my way to work, furiously working against the clock. I am mindful of the fact that my teams in Singapore, India and The Philippines are already into tomorrow and in need of answers to their questions of yesterday (my today)…There is no time zone when you work globally. There is only the here and now. Yours or theirs, it is all the same. Landing in Florida, it is 11 p.m. but not quite so late in my body, given the three hour time difference. Sometimes your luggage is delivered to the carousel, sometimes it is not. Once you show up the next morning for a board meeting in your jeans and flip flops on account of your luggage not making it on the same flight as you, you never let that happen again. We all do it once. Then, you always travel in business attire with extra undies in your purse. It’s just the smart thing to do. I pick up the car and hit Highway 95 south. It will be a 40 minute drive. I like the drive from the airport to the hotel. I know the way. I have my preferred radio station. With the window down I feel the heat of the night. You have to find your own pleasure wherever you can. Because it is so late, there is no one on the road except for the occasional trooper`s car speeding by. This time is the only mellow part of my day. It’s nearing midnight. I have to locate a pharmacy. Unless someone picked it up, my makeup bag is still sitting on the counter in the ladies room at the Chicago airport lounge. Just as I was pulling it out of my purse my phone rang, and I got pulled into a heated conversation and forgot all about what I was doing by the time I rushed out to catch my connection. If I were to tell my mother that I am cruising the Interstate by myself past midnight to find a pharmacy to buy lipstick, she would think I have gone mad. Maybe I have….. This roller coaster came to an end on June 1st, and my own employment was to end on September 3rd. The time in between was to allow for a smooth transition. We have now come to the end of that transition period, and for me, everything comes to a hard stop. Where to go? Where to start? My dad always taught me to learn to love what I do instead of only seeking to do what I love. Controversial statement I would say. Not a concept I tried on my kids, but nevertheless, the one I grew up with. It served me well as I had to sustain a pretty demanding schedule of time and commitment. So I am grateful he taught me that lesson but today however, I no longer have to listen to him. I want to change the pattern. I look at my children. I see how they pursue their own passions, and seek to do what they love. What if they were right and my dad was wrong?
Gisele Aubin is certified as an executive coach by the Royal Roads University in British Columbia. She started her coaching business following a successful career in human resources in global roles. She works with leaders and entrepreneurs, helping to create better working environments through people. A mother of three, Gisele is fluent in French and English and works and lives in Montreal and Vancouver, Canada.
A very enjoyable read for anyone who is considering a major life transition. What I truly enjoyed about "In Transit" was that I felt as though I was right with Giselle every step of the way. She shows that a professional life change affects every aspect of our life but that a successful ending is very possible even with all of the ups and downs.
If you're considering a transition or looking for inspiration during yours get In Transit.