Gabrielle Tourelle is the People & Culture Partner at a The Possibility Partnership, a new-model consulting firm and holding company.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
After 15 years as a public relations consultant and business leader I moved into the people space as a regional and later global HR lead.
At the same time that I transitioned into HR, I trained as a yoga and Pilates instructor, mainly because of how movement got me back into the body versus my head and the health benefits associated with that process.
Within months of starting that training I was diagnosed with cancer which slowed down my teaching hustle somewhat. I kept my HR stream of work going and along with generalist HR roles, I specialised in talent development and learning and development.
2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?
Currently I blend my role as People and Culture Partner for a new start up called The Possibility Partnership with my side hustle of teaching yoga and Pilates.
My current role is about helping companies unlock the potential of their people and the energy within their workplace. My movement teaching is focused on wellness and getting people enjoying movement and their own bodies.
3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My days vary depending on my consulting commitments and teaching gigs.
Most of my work is done from home which means I can juggle work with some household chores and therapeutic animal time – I have two Burmese cats now aged over 10 and a cattle dog that we rescued six years ago called Ruby.
Invariably there is always a chunk of time at the laptop, on the mobile and in meetings – zoom and face to face. So I try and make sure I get on my mat, in my Pilates room and walk the dog – even if it is for short chunks of time it makes a difference.
The teaching energises me and keeps me learning and developing my own movement knowledge and practise.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
I try and work within my energy levels and chunks of time – doing the most important things first or when my energy is the best. I’m more effective that way.
If I spend hours at a laptop I deplete my energy so I make myself get away from the laptop to generate energy – even if it is a two minute trot to get something. Often I will be doing something else when I solve a problem in my head so a wee walk is often on my agenda.
I also practise just getting started on something, even if I have only 10 minutes to spare, rather than wait for the ideal moment which rarely comes along.
5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?
For me balance lies in how I work with my energy and letting go of my internal story around how the ideal day or life “should” work.
I try and stay on my own game and work with loving kindness towards myself and others. On bad days, I cut myself slack, on good days I push a little harder and trust it all balances out. I extend this approach to others too.
Breath-based movement and meditation is my medicine of choice – for giving me energy and connection back to myself in a kind way. I also notice that when I walk the dog or hug a purring cat I get energy.
Classic introvert stuff – I’m afraid too much time with big crowds of people can deplete me.
My decision to combine people roles with my teaching also creates a form of balance, although there are days in which it would be easier to just have one area of focus. At the heart, both are really about wellness.
6) What does work life balance mean to you?
Work life balance means living a great life, the life you feel you were called here to live and being wholehearted in how you live it – you can call it work or not.
You need energy and time to achieve that. The trap is looking over the fence at other people and thinking your life ought to look like theirs.
Doing that denies the wonder of your own life and who you are, the gifts you have to offer that may be very different to another – the magic and mystery of what is yet to come.
7) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
I’m a morning walker and mover – I love mornings and the energy of a new day, a dog walk in nature and time moving.
I also work deeply with setting intentions for the day and watching my thoughts and energy. Every day I practise my own form of “maitri”, gratitude prayers and sending out love – both to my dear ones and the communities I roll in.
Maitri is commonly translated as love or loving-kindness, both to oneself and others. I’m not Buddhist, but I have benefitted deeply from their understanding of the mind and the nature of human suffering and life.
The cancer diagnosis 15 years ago was both a blow and a blessing. My deepest learnings came from that experience and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.
It routed my life in a whole different direction and I’m grateful for that. As a result, I’m probably on a more health oriented path more than most out of necessity and I’m less career driven.
What excites me is that a lot of the knowledge I gained is becoming more mainstream and is slowly being applied to sick and dysfunctional workplaces.
The number one symptom I had when I was diagnosed was an utter depletion of energy, there was no obvious cancer lump or bump – interesting that all these years later I am deep into the energy and wellbeing of people and workplaces.
8) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
Again when I was diagnosed 15 years ago, a beautiful yoga teacher called Jude Hynes arrived with a box of books and tapes to entertain me whilst I recovered.
I dove deep into jewels of wisdom. Buddhist nun Pema Chodron’s teachings helped heal my broken heart and Richard Miller’s teachings opened the door to a profoundly healing practise called Yoga Nidra.
I’ve never lost threads to those teachings or gratitude to Jude Hynes!
Naturally I read lots of health books and best sellers about leadership and people topics. I just purchased The Mindful Leader by Michael Bunting.
9) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Daily (even every minute) I have to get my thoughts and head straight and manage my energy – the mind is my most powerful friend or enemy and it impacts my energy – along with healthy eating, intelligent movement and loving connection with others and nature.
10) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I’m passionate about the energetics of a workplace. Questions like what energy is dominant, how is energy being created and depleted from the culture and people within that community, occupy my time.
And whilst I’m immersed in that for others, I’m also busy monitoring my own energy – what is giving me energy and what is depleting it? Where do I need to tip the balance right now? It is an ongoing dance of moving towards the creation of more energy – more love –for myself, others and the magic and wonder of the world. Love is a powerful energiser.
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