Co-Founder and CEO Kate on her pursuit of happiness
Vulnerability, being present and living your truth – the real recipe for a life well lived.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, Saje Co-Founder and CEO, Kate Ross LeBlanc spoke at the Raintree Women and Wealth Gala in Edmonton. Kate’s fascination with happiness has led her on life-long journey to uncover its true meaning, and her discoveries continue to motivate and inspire her every day.
Kate shares her key learnings and why happiness starts with vulnerability, being present and living your truth.
When I was asked to give a talk about happiness my first thought was: what does it mean to be happy? Happiness is something we all want in life, but are we actually finding it? What I’ve come to realize is that too often, we attach our idea of happiness to achieving something or obtaining something that we think will change our lives.
I know I’ve been guilty of statements like:
- When I get that promotion, I’ll be happier.
- When I have a new car, I’ll be happier.
- When I am finally able to live in that city I’ve always wanted to live in, I’ll be happier.
When we define happiness as a result of outside circumstances, we will never truly feel it. It’s easy to fall into the habit of thinking our happiness is being controlled by something outside of ourselves, but deep down we know that true happiness comes from within. You have the power to change your approach to circumstances, your perspective and ultimately, choose to be happy. I know this to be true because there was a time when I was decidedly unhappy.
Years ago, I had a job I didn’t love. I would watch the clock and run out of the building at 4pm – I couldn’t wait for the day to end. Outside of work, I knew myself to be a very happy person: I loved my family, my friends and I maintained a positive attitude as much as I could. I knew there was a disconnect in my life, because as soon as I walked into work, my attitude would shift. I also knew that I wanted more purpose in my career, so with my husband Jean-Pierre, I set out to change my circumstances. This is when my search for the meaning of happiness began.
What I learned after years of self-discovery is that it’s not happiness we should be seeking at all. Happiness is an outcome: it is the result of a life well lived. Through my own journey, I’ve discovered that self-responsibility, being present, vulnerability and spending quality time with the people who matter most are the underlying attributes of a life well lived.
Here are the key learnings that continue to guide me to this day:
START BY LOOKING INSIDE
Changing your focus from looking out to looking in is the first step to living well. Once I learned to step out of victim-mode and realized that I was responsible for how I wanted to feel, I was able to rework my patterns of thinking and behaviour. This isn’t easy to do as it requires vulnerability and practice. Instead of blaming others, I recognized that I had the power to solve my own problems.
I now practice forgiveness and take opportunities to adjust how I respond to situations or interactions with others. Whatever your circumstances are, know that it is within your power to better your situation and shift your mind from focusing on what is being done to you to what you can do for yourself.
I often share this quote: ‘Don’t compare the outside of other people’s lives to the inside of your own.’
Especially in this digital age, we spend so much time judging ourselves and comparing our inner struggles to someone else’s highlight reel. You know your own doubts and limitations and it’s easy to look at other people’s lives and believe that they don’t have any – but of course, this isn’t true. Once we accept that everyone has their own struggle, we can have greater self-acceptance and compassion for ourselves and our own journey.
CHOOSE TO BE PRESENT
When my daughter was very sick a few years ago, I felt utterly helpless. I have never been as terrified as I was in those days and months as she battled her way back towards wellness. What helped me the most during this incredibly stressful time was focusing on the present moment and staying connected to the love in our family. I learned to trust that knowing the right thing to do in each moment would become apparent. One of our mantras as family was: “Whatever’s next, we’ll get through it”.
You can’t get too far ahead of yourself when you’re in a crisis like that. I realized that the only moment that I had the power to influence was the present one. Releasing the need to control or change the situation helped me not only survive, but come away from the experience with a new approach to living.
Staying present, investing in your relationships and surrounding yourself with people who elevate you will help you stay strong, no matter what life throws at you. Today, I know the most worthwhile investment I’ve ever made was in creating strong relationships with my husband and my daughter.
LIVE YOUR TRUTH
Being honest with yourself about who you truly are is fundamental to living your best life. What are your core values, and are you living by them? Knowing and nurturing my values has served me and will continue to serve me my entire life. When you know what you stand for, you’ll also know what you won’t stand for.
A big part of living your truth is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Somewhere in our youth, we get this idea that we always need to be comfortable, even though we know, on an intellectual level, that good things happen when we’re outside of our comfort zone. Being uncomfortable and living with uncertainty is all a part of the process. When I stopped holding myself back by staying comfortable, I achieved more than I had ever imagined.
FIND A STEADY STATE
Our level of happiness is based on how steadily the state of happiness occurs in our lives, as opposed to how many happiness ‘peaks’ we experience. When you’re working towards a big goal, it can be an incredible rush when you succeed, and you’ll probably experience a happiness ‘peak’. However, when the moment is gone, so is the peak of happiness, and you can end up feeling let down.
Rather than putting all of our energy on milestones or possessions that we think will make us happy, we can choose to invest in daily, regular commitments to ourselves, our loved ones and our goals. Not only will this help level-set after trauma or success, it will help us maintain consistent happiness throughout our lives.
Whether it’s getting more rest, connecting with nature, meditating, spending time with people you care about or just treating yourself, do what makes you feel well every day. Something that I know helps me is practicing gratitude. Whether it’s for yourself or for other people, gratitude connects us to the abundance we already have.
It took me a while to come to a place of acceptance and responsibility, but I’m so grateful that I have. Every area of my life has benefitted by playing the long game and focussing on maintaining consistent happiness and not chasing the next peak. I know that these practices will help me to stay true to my values, no matter what, and live a life well lived. This is what happiness is to me.
Vulnerability, taking responsibility for your own life and being mindful are the qualities that will support us all in living our best life -- and when we live our best life, happiness will be quick to follow.
Kate Ross LeBlanc is Co-Founder and CEO of Saje Natural Wellness - a twenty five year old natural wellness company that has become North America’s leader in plant-derived essential oil products that help you feel your best, naturally.
Recipient of the 2018 ‘Dreamers’ Award from the National Retail Federation and the 2016 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Retail and Hospitality as well as the Momentum Award by Women of Influencer RBC Entrepreneur of the Year, Kate leads the Saje team in its mission to create global wellness by connecting people to the healing power of plants.
As the pioneer of Saje’s natural wellness product line, champion of the Positively Outrageous Customer Service founding pillar, one of Chatelaine’s 2018 Women of the Year, and past ICSC Retail Chair for British Columbia, Kate is a passionate speaker about retail, company culture, leadership and holistic happiness and has spoken at events across North America, including most recently Retail West.