By Georges Levesque, EO Montreal and president of Groupe Levesque Group
You read that right. I am the son of a nun. Well to be more precise, an ex-nun. My mom was a member of the order of the Roman Catholic Sisters of Wisdom in Edmundston, Canada from the age of 18 until she was 26. She left the convent as only the second one in Canadian history to do so without being excommunicated. After her departure she continued to teach, met my dad, raised a family and welcomed seven grandchildren. She and dad are now retired and live enjoyable, peaceful lives at our family farm.So how has that helped me in business? In many ways, the values that made her go into a life of religion (and then out of that life), are the ones that got passed down to me. These values have been very useful to me, as an entrepreneur.
Three lessons she taught me about her experiences as a Roman Catholic nun:
1. Moving on is not quitting; it’s moving on
It’s okay to move on if it’s no longer valuable. She made the incredibly tough choice of leaving the convent despite staggering social and family pressures to stay. She followed her heart and chose to commit to another type of life, despite huge external influences. She didn’t quit her beliefs; she simply moved on.
A company or investment is very much like this. It’s not my “baby.” It’s an entity that should be fun or valuable. It should add to my life and to the lives of others. If it’s a drain on me, my energy or my money; I consider moving on. I’ve learned that transitioning is not quitting but simply moving on to a better situation.
2. Your past does not define you
Once mom left the convent she never looked back. My mother absorbed her experiences in the convent and never viewed those years as a waste of time but forged forward.
In 2000, I lost a lot of money with my mismanaged company, but I did not allow that to deter me from any future business endeavors. I chose to view the loss as a learning experience that prepared me for my next entrepreneurial journey. The debacle allowed me to revamp my thoughts and seek out my next great opportunity. I allowed the mistakes of my past to make me a better person and entrepreneur
3. Nice does not mean weak
My mother is the nicest person I know. She understands the true sense that as humans we struggle often, and we shouldn’t be judged for it. She mixes her niceness with a healthy mixture of firmness and determination.
I allow myself to be nice and approachable to everyone as to always allow for open communication. I make sure to focus on the basic mechanics of my business: people, revenue and clients, and everything else usually falls into place.