The Interview

Integrative Career Counseling has allowed me to see and hear the myriad ways people experience work, how the work we do affects our development and our view of our selves. My own work continues to enlighten me on the extent to which innate capacities, personal values, purposeful striving and the desire to be a valuable part of something impact the motivation, definition, decisions and challenges people face in the work they do and wish to do. My experiences in counseling inspired me to create this Interview section to highlight personal expressions and experiences of work. I thank the many individuals who share their perspectives and reflections in these interviews.

  • Marie-Claude Lessard

    03/27/2018

    Personal Development Coach
    Abu Dhabi, UAE

    Our careers and professional lives grow, expand and shift. This movement, aided in part by our unique and accumulated experiences, adds depth and perspective to our interests, talents and contributions. Marie-Claude (MC) Lessard is no exception as she reflects on the developments in her professional journey. As she states, “I feel my professional and personal lives seem to be merging in a most uplifting manner”.

    BMS

    How has your approach to coaching shifted and expanded over the years? How do you personally define coaching?

    MCL

    To me, coaching is a courageous, self-reflective, and co-creative process which clients engage in, with the support of a professionally-trained coach, when they seek to ease, accelerate, or optimize their performance at home, at work or anywhere in between.

    Naturally, my approach to coaching has evolved over the years.  You could say that I used to be more of a flashlight, ready to bring anyone’s blind spots to their awareness so they could deal with them, while I have become more of a lighthouse now, allowing people to come to me when they are ready.

     
    BMS

    You just finished creating and leading your first Girls Empowerment Program (ages 11 – 13). What was that experience like for you? Did the girls participating in the program empower you?

    MCL

    To your first question, the experience was utterly intimidating! Seriously, I was surprised by my emotional reaction when this initiative came together – thanks to the collaboration of a handful of supportive and skilled women – and I found myself standing in front of 12 bright-eyed, intelligent, and expectant, girls. 

    I believe I felt challenged by this cohort because I perceived them to be generally developed enough to have a healthy degree of self-awareness yet possibly not ripe enough for deep, self-reflection, as in my adult clients. Add to that a concern around my ability to tweak the somewhat technical lingo of personal development and, there you have it, the perfect ingredients for cortisol surges.  So, in this sense, yes, the girls definitely empowered me to be more vulnerable than I’ve ever been.

     
    BMS

    Your current focus is the study of emotions, empowerment and personal development. What do these 3 areas mean to you at this stage in your professional life?

    MCL

    I never thought I would experience this, but you’ve caught me at a blissful nexus.  I feel my professional and personal lives seem to be merging in a most uplifting manner.  

    Tangibly, this means three things: 

    (1) I continue to be a committed observer of fellow humans – and myself, wink, wink – noticing empowered and disempowered actions as a means of furthering my understanding and knowledge of human behavioural patterns and drivers; 
    (2) having navigated through several challenges, including, my son’s emotional turmoil and subsequent suicide, I am better equipped to develop content and programs to help others tap into the power of emotional awareness; and,
    (3) the way I will henceforth deliver my content and programs will be, increasingly, through visual and audio-visual media.  
    The reason for the latter is that I’ve found the topic of emotional awareness to be as threatening as it can be life-changing.  By packaging my message in a variety of visual formats (ex. quotes, infographics, voiced-over or text-supported animation, educational videos, online courses, short films, documentaries, etc.), I hope to cater to individuals with varying tastes and appetites for personal growth.  I expect this approach will be a recipe for more creative and recreational freedom for me while, concurrently, being a more palatable offering for my patrons.