Introduce yourself! Who are you?
Hi, My name is Gisell James, I'm a Life Strategist, passionate about helping millennial women overcome fear and self-doubt so that they can live in their purpose with intentional ambition. I'm in a stage of transition, for the last ten years, I've worked in secondary education helping young people pursue their goals and excel in education. I was laid off this past January, so I've decided to pivot and finally pursue my purpose full time and I've established my life coaching business at www.giselljames.com. Also, I'm a recent homeschooling mom of three, Azaria, Angelo, Jr., and Carter. I've been married to my best friend for the past ten years.
What is one thing no one really knows about you?
Hmmm, I'm not sure that I'm unknowingly interesting, ha, I can't really think of something no one really knows, but something no one generally assumes about me upon meeting me is that I'm Latina. I'm First Generation Dominican- American and I'm fluent in Spanish. I like "shocking" people by speaking Spanish when they least expect it.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I have a Bachelors in Social Work and so when I was completing one of my internships in college, the wonderful, very seasoned Social Worker, whom I was shadowing told me that when in the service of others not to take anything they say negatively about you or to you personally. The people we serve are often overlooked, underserved, and underrepresented so many times at the point in which a Social Worker needs to enter into their lives they were already hurting, possibly have had their life in turmoil. And so often times, because you are there, willing and open to helping them they find it easy to take all their frustrations out on you, but it isn't about you. You were just a safe place to vent or happen to be the first person to have to listen to them. She said never take what they say in those moments personally. To hold space for them, listen and find a way to best serve them.
I've used that advice, in the service of others, since then; and I pass it on whenever I can. That advice has proven true time and time again. Some people just need to be seen, acknowledged, and helped in the manner in which they feel is the best fit for them. We just need to be willing to hear past the hurt, discomfort, pain, and often times miscommunication, when in the service of others and in our everyday relationships.
What would you say to 16 year old you?
Don't be afraid, take more risks, step out of your comfort zone. Stop trying to be so perfect, it's going to hold you back. It's okay to vulnerable with those who have shown you to be a safe space.
What is your greatest fear?
Never having tried.
Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
Yes, I have, it made me second guess myself, that maybe they were right in their assessment of me. But it's in those moments of doubt when you have to change or amp up your internal talk. What you say to yourself and affirm what you know to be true about your abilities and how you will change your sphere of influence can determine if the doubters will win or lose. So I just reaffirm myself and keep it moving.
What message do you think every woman should hear?
That they are purposeful, capable of achieving their dreams, and defining what success looks like for themselves. You don't have to go with the flow of what others expect of you. I also want women to know that despite possible limiting resources they can still achieve their dreams. You may need to make some sacrifices and it may take you longer than the woman next to you but you have to push back the fear, to stay focused on your own path. Just start with what you have now, you will get there because you've defined your success, your risks will look differently, but it all will pay off.
And lastly, that it's okay to be ambitious, and fierce in pursuit of your purpose, you don't have to settle. One step at a time until you reach your intended destination.
What do you love most about yourself?
I love that I can see the positive in myself to be able to answer this question. In the past, it was always easier to point out the negative, what I wasn't getting right. I was a lot harder on myself, I'm a recovering perfectionist. So what I love about myself today, is my ability to be empathic, that my voice carries over a loud room. I love that I'm ambitious. I love my ability to dream big for other people and encourage other people to pursue their dreams. I love my curly hair. I love laughing at myself. I love the woman that I've become, more compassionate, less tense, less fearful, both about the present and about the future.
Do you remember a specific time you overcame adversity?
I don't have a specific situation in which I have had to overcome adversity, I guess I have many. Having grown up poor financially and with limited resources, I've had to learn to be creative with less. And on the flip side of that being in a more financially stable position, I still battle being able to be comfortable with what I have and learning to use my resources wisely.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned along the way?
That I'm worth it and I'm enough.
What motivates you most?
My ambition doesn't let me quit! This drive within me to get to make an impact I can't turn it off even when I try. Realizing that my life is not my own, it's never just about me necessarily, I believe that my God-given purpose is to encourage other women to never give up on themselves and that they have so much to contribute in all areas of life. Of course, my children and the legacy I want to leave for them is a huge motivator to keep going. My faith in Jesus and the purpose and drive He's given me as mentioned above is a huge motivator.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
By establishing my priorities, what is truly important in my life, both currently and in the future; what will have really mattered. And I use a calendar. I have a calendar system and the event alerts sync to my Fitbit so that I stay on track. I believe that we make time for what really matters. If it doesn't matter it doesn't make it to the calendar.
What is your favorite meal?
I'm Dominican American so my favorite thing to eat, no lie, is platanos or plantains. I fit that stereotype, hahaha! I can eat them any way they are cooked any time of day!
What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
I pray! I can't get through the day without praying and aligning my day to what God would want me to accomplish. I like to read so I try to do as much of that as I can each day. I'm also a part of a business mastermind group so I check in daily for encouragement and support to keep going. I try to check in with my friends and family because we are as strong as the people that we surround ourselves with.
What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?
I used to want to be a CSI.
If you weren’t doing the job you have now, what would you be doing?
I would be working in education, I love teaching and working with high school students and their families.
What is something on your bucket list?
To travel across Europe with my husband.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere! In people in places. I try to tune into what God would have me to learn in each situation whether good or bad, there is a lesson.
What are your biggest passions?
Encouraging others to achieve their dreams. Always, seeing or looking for the best in others and their potential even when I'm discouraged to do so. Being the best mother and wife that I can be to my children and my husband.
More About Gisell
Gisell James is a Life Strategist, passionate about coaching millennial women to overcome fear and self-doubt in order to pursue their God-given purpose with intentional ambition.
You can learn more about how you can work with her by visiting her website at giselljames.com