On this episode of The Systems Made Simple™ Podcast, business systems expert Courtney Elmer talks with entrepreneur Crystalyn Aucoin on resilience, how to overcome hardship, & lead a purposeful life.
Her name is Crystalyn Aucoin, she’s the founder and chief designer of Crystalyn Aucoin Jewelry, whose mission is to inspire women to overcome hardship and live a purposeful life.
If you’re going through a tough time, this episode will help you learn how to build resilience, overcome hardship, and turn life’s challenges into your greatest triumphs.
BY THE TIME YOU FINISH LISTENING, YOU’LL LEARN
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Courtney Elmer 0:00
You're listening to the Systems Made Simple™ podcast, Episode 21, which is all about how to overcome hardship and build resilience.
I'm your host, Courtney Elmer. Thanks for tuning in to this special edition of the show, where you get to hear examples of extraordinary entrepreneurs like you who are experiencing extraordinary results in their life and business. I believe that story is such a powerful tool where we can connect over shared challenges and triumphs. There are so many ways we can relate to the struggle someone is going through, and hear how to overcome hardship.
It’s like a map: by listening to someone else’s story, you learn what roads to take and what detours to avoid. As you'll hear in today's interview, I'm speaking with one extraordinary entrepreneur who discovered her own capacity for resilience after losing her husband to cancer, which led her to her calling. We initially met in a Facebook group which had about 2500 entrepreneurs in it at the time. I saw that she was from New Orleans, which is where I live, so I messaged her to connect. Then all of a sudden, I got this funny feeling that somehow I knew her, even though I knew that we’d never met in person. Come to find out, we realized we live on the same street. I live at one end of the block, she lives at the other and I recognized her because I'd seen her out watering her garden and playing with her son. It took joining a Facebook group of thousands of people from all over the world for us to meet.
And maybe you've had this experience where you met someone and instantly you knew that you were meant to meet them; that even though you weren't sure why, you sensed that there was some greater purpose behind it. That is exactly how I felt when I met the woman you're about to hear from today. This is an amazing episode about her journey of going from paralyzed by fear to stepping into her purpose and creating the life and business of her dreams. Her name is Crystalyn Aucoin, and she's the founder and chief designer of Crystalyn Aucoin Jewelry, whose sole mission is to inspire women to overcome hardship and live a purpose. Crystalyn creates pieces with a deep sense of meaning and donates a portion of the proceeds to help families who are experiencing the burden of cancer, which is a cause near and dear to her heart as you’re about to hear today. Let’s roll the tape on this exclusive interview so you can learn more about how to overcome hardship and the keys to building resilience.
Courtney Elmer 4:54
Crystalyn, I'm so excited to be recording with you today. I can't wait for our conversation. Let our listeners know who you help, and tell us how you help them?
Crystalyn Aucoin 7:07
Awesome. Well, I’m Crystalyn Aucoin. I'm a jewelry designer from New Orleans. I help women who want to celebrate things in their life like accomplishments or milestones with stylish, simple, casual, minimalist fine jewelry.
Courtney Elmer 7:29
What I love so much about your pieces is the meaning behind these pieces that you create, and the stories behind them. You have a powerful story yourself. Tell us, what inspired you to start your business? Take us on that journey.
Crystalyn Aucoin 7:56
Thank you for those kind words. My jewelry is super simple, and that’s what’s interesting about it: when women wear it, it's not gonna scream the meaning, but it's also going to be meaningful to them. If someone says, “Oh, that's pretty” they could say, “Well, that’s my Strength Pendant, I wear it because of XYZ.” My jewelry line came to life out of my being in the jewelry industry for over 10 years. I got pregnant with my son and was working with my husband at the time, too. He was also in the jewelry industry as a diamond buyer. He fell ill with cancer. We both had to put everything on hold to take care of him, and then had a new baby. In 2016 sadly, I lost my husband to cancer, his name was Ryan.
After experiencing such a traumatic event in life, I was trying to put my life back together and figure out what to do. I found myself as a single mom widow wondering “How do I navigate life?” I had never been a mom before. I'd never been a single mom before. I had lost my best friend. As I went through the grief process, I started to get involved in some charities locally to help out with some cancer related initiatives. Then I decided now is the time, life's short. I wanted to start this business. I’d been running around being a mom volunteering, and I wasn't wearing my jewelry everyday like I’d worn before I worked in a high end jewelry store, I was wearing diamonds every day. But I felt like being a mom and running around in diamonds wasn’t safe and I didn’t have the kind of pieces I wanted to wear. So I started creating them, which led me to develop this line of casual fine jewelry for women who run around and wear all the hats.
We can wear this simple 14 karat gold jewelry, sterling silver jewelry and not feel worried about knocking a diamond out or looking too fancy when we're at the ballpark. In doing so I melded the two worlds of wanting to help families experiencing the burden of cancer, and give a portion of my sales to help them and surround myself with a bunch of amazing people who have helped me along the way. It’s been an incredible process.
Courtney Elmer 11:36
Hearing you share this, my first thought was: not only do you create meaning behind your jewelry, but there's so much meaning in this entire business that you've created and the bigger vision behind it, giving back and helping people because of you and your husband’s journey. I think there's meaning in everything. I was telling our listeners a little bit about how we met in the intro, and I think people's paths cross because they're meant to. I remember when we first met, you expressed to me how stuck you felt at that time in life. What were some of the reasons you felt stuck, even while building this incredible initiative?
Crystalyn Aucoin 13:30
Absolutely. My life was upside down. I was making progress, and at the same time felt completely paralyzed. I did so much after my husband passed: I renovated the house, I started a business, and one of the things that kept me feeling stuck was the boxes I had of my late husband’s stuff because I wasn't ready to get rid of it. I lived in a newly renovated house full of boxes that said Ryan all over them. I felt like how can I move on? How can I move forward in this cluttered environment?
And I was literally sitting where you're right now on a Zoom call with you. And you said, “What are you afraid will happen when you let go of the boxes?” I had never asked myself that question. I had to answer it because you were my new friend who’d just asked me this serious question, and tears flooded my eyes. I was like, “Wow, it would mean he's gone if those boxes are gone.” It was an AHA moment because in my subconscious, I'm thinking he's going to come back, and he's going to say, “Wow, love what you did with the place, let’s move my stuff back into the closet.” That sounds weird but then we talked about it and I realized, he’s hot coming back.
Having the boxes or not having the boxes doesn’t make it any different. I had to have that moment. I realized how it was causing me to feel stuck by holding onto them. I needed to hear that and no one had ever explained it to me. You opened my eyes to it. And working with you on my business and in my life, it allowed me to work through things, not to avoid or hide from them. It allowed me to say, “This is where I am right now, and that’s okay. I’m okay. This is okay.” You reminded me it was okay to give yourself some grace, and take the time you need to do one thing at a time to get to where you go. That's exactly what I did. There's literally no boxes around that have his name on it. I've kept things for sure, but they're in their places. It freed up that energy that was holding me back. It’s helped me overcome hardship as these are the keys to building resilience.
Courtney Elmer 17:54
It was instantaneous clarity. One of the things I hear busy entrepreneurs complain about is a lack of focus. We all have a lot on our minds, we're all busy. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But it's not a lack of focus that you have, it's a lack of clarity. Clarity breeds focus. Anxiety is an emotion of the future, you can't feel anxiety in the present moment. You can only feel anxiety when you're thinking about the future.
When you’re in a place of pain, challenge, or struggle, our innate human nature is to want to get out of that as fast as possible. It's uncomfortable, it feels unsafe. You try to numb and escape in order to get back to this feeling of comfort and security and safety. It's our primal instinct. But once you recognize what is holding you back, you can begin to work through it so you can overcome hardship and learn the keys to building resilience. For you, on the other side of those boxes was a beautiful home that felt clear and uncluttered. But what was getting in the way was that if you let go of those boxes, it’ll mean Ryan is gone forever. And yes, that’s the reality; but there was that deeper emotional piece you had to give yourself time and space to work through. So for those listening who are going through a tough time right now, stop thinking about “How am I going to get to where I want to be? How can I overcome hardship and learn the keys to building resilience?” And instead, start looking at where you are, and ask “What’s the first step I need to take? What’s my next required action?” That will help you gain clarity and focus on your path forward. You have to be willing to get quiet, ask yourself the question, and listen.
Crystalyn Aucoin 20:19
Absolutely. Because my space was cluttered, my mind felt cluttered. When I got to go on Retreat with you — which was incredible by the way — I was going in circles because I didn’t have systems and processes in place. That was my one goal leaving the Retreat: was going to come home and have a workspace, with a desk. It seemed very daunting for me, but every day I worked at it little by little and got it done. It was something I needed. But it didn’t happen until I did the deeper work with you. I think sometimes you want everything to be perfect, that you don't even know which way to go. That clarity came with our initial working together, and then going to the Retreat, and focusing on the baby steps along the way and owning the fact that I’m a mom, a single mom, and giving myself grace. It may take longer than I want it to, but it’ll get done.
Courtney Elmer 22:52
Yea. One of the mistakes I see people making is that they try to fix the problems in their outer world, before fixing the problems in their inner world not realizing that fixing the problems in their inner world, will fix the problems in their outer world. After an initial discovery call with me, sometimes people come back and say “I decided not to do your program right now, because I want to get my meal planning in place and a new workout routine down pat.” I know they’ll be back a few months down the road when that doesn’t work out. Because until you fix what’s causing the symptoms you’re experiencing in your outer world, like poor eating habits and no self care and weight gain or whatever, nothing you do externally like a meal plan or workout routine will fix that long-term. To get to the next level of growth, you have to be willing to do the inner work — the only work that matters.
Crystalyn Aucoin 23:48
Oh my gosh, you're absolutely right. I needed that first. It was the core of everything as I needed that work first. It’s about having the principles in place first. I have this notebook right here to remind me, because I go back to these principles you taught me when I need them. I need them all the time when trying to figure out my health, trying to figure out the business, trying to figure out the grief part, the parenting part. I keep going back to these principles because they’re the core for me. Everything else stems from them. When I'm feeling out of control and need a reset, I come back to them time and again for clarity.
Courtney Elmer 24:38
Yea exactly. Until that inner piece clicks, the outer pieces won’t align. And guess what? That's when things become effortless, where you’re not hustling and grinding it out and burning up your energy to create these few results. It's about working on yourself first and foremost because there's a human behind every business. If you’re not taking care of the human and being mindful of the growth of that human, then you cannot expect your business to grow and thrive in the way you want it to. I’m curious, after going to that Retreat, what was your biggest highlight or AHA that you took away from that experience?
Crystalyn Aucoin 25:38
The biggest part for me was learning self-coaching tools to identify my limiting beliefs. There are so many limiting beliefs in your life, that you have in your self-talk, without even realizing it. Until someone shows it to you as you did for me and says, here's the mirror, look at what you're doing to yourself, you're holding yourself back with these beliefs you have, it’s difficult to see them. And if you don’t see them, you can’t overcome them and start building resilience. You might think, I don't have these limiting beliefs. But once you understand what they are and how they’re formed, you see them everywhere and go, “Oh shoot! I need to get myself out of this limited way of thinking so I can move forward and take action to go where I need to go.”
Courtney Elmer 27:22
Yeah. I even challenge people who say they don’t have limiting beliefs and say,
“That’s a limiting belief.” And look, we come by these honestly. They’re from our upbringing, our past experiences, our life’s memories, from the events that have happened to us along the way. They’re in our unconscious mind, which means you’re not often aware of them. But they’re running the show. That’s how we love to empower our students and clients, and that’s why it’s been so rewarding for me to witness your journey, is to teach you the tools to notice and catch these limiting beliefs that are holding you back and show you how to break free of their grip on you. It’s about recognizing that you always have a choice, and learning how to strengthen your awareness muscle. I have limiting beliefs too, we all do. It's part of the human experience. But those limiting beliefs don’t have to define you. You can learn to identify them, and when you have the tools to work through them and move past them, it helps you get what you want a lot faster in life. It ultimately helps overcome hardship and teaches you the keys to building resilience.
Crystalyn Aucoin 28:37
If you're listening and you’re wondering, what’s a limiting belief? You’re not alone. An example for me was, “I’m creative, therefore I’m not that organized.” Or, “I’m creative, so I’m not good at numbers.” And when you can identify that, you can see, well maybe that’s how my family always did things but that’s not what it has to mean about me. Maybe it’s not in my nature to be super organized, but it’s a skill I love learning and feel empowered when I see progress. You have the tools inside of you to figure things out, to make an impact, to build your business, to raise amazing kids.
Courtney Elmer 30:28
It is so empowering when you learn how to cultivate that awareness and then have the tools to shift the beliefs that are holding you back. I’d be so curious to hear, and you mentioned a few of them, some of the biggest limiting beliefs you had to let go of first before the results that you then experienced could happen.
Crystalyn Aucoin 31:16
Gosh, that's a good one. Definitely one of my biggest limiting beliefs was the organizational piece, believing that I’m not organized but that you have to be organized to run a business. But when I learned how to use the tools you gave me, I said, “Ok, so organization is not your strong suit. But where is there an opportunity for me to learn? Where can I ask for help and get support from someone who does have this skill set?” And that’s what I did. I hired someone super organized who helped me tremendously. It’s not focusing on what I can’t do, but what I can do about it. This was the key to overcoming hardship.
Courtney Elmer 35:47
Yes, figuring out ways to make it work focusing on what you can do vs. what you can't do. It opens up so many doors. What doors has this opened for you?
Crystalyn Aucoin 36:14
When we met, I hadn’t launched my line yet. My biggest fear was that I’ll never launch, I have so much to do and learn. But then shortly after working with you I launched my business, realizing that I could figure things out as I went. I had a five figure launch and gained media attention, and the business has taken off. Celebrities like Rachel Hollis and Jamie Kern Lima are wearing my jewelry now, and I love seeing people’s Instagram stories sharing their stories behind my pieces and what my pieces mean for them. It lights me up like nothing else. I still find myself thinking limiting thoughts at times, but now I know how to call myself out and quiet that voice. I say, “ok, maybe this is something you believed in the past but we’re not believing that anymore.” I’ve learned how to overcome hardship and the keys to building resilience.
Courtney Elmer 38:30
I see you light up sharing all of this. It's got to be so cool to witness that ripple effect of something that you initiated and to see how it's touching women in the world.
Crystalyn Aucoin 38:45
Yes, and I was saying this, I created a piece to mean something for me, the strength necklace. It reminds me that I have the strength to do anything because of what I've been through. I can make an impact with my story, my messaging, and my jewelry.
Courtney Elmer 40:06
As a friend and as your coach, working with you, I’ve witnessed your resilience and how you learned how to overcome hardship. You are so strong. You have been through so much. Yet you keep putting one foot in front of the other, always looking for opportunities. Always asking, “How can I grow from this?” I feel we all need someone in our corner who can be an example of that to us. I know that there are women listening right now who are going through a hard time. What’s a word of advice that you want to leave with them, to help them cultivate awareness and resilience, too?
Crystalyn Aucoin 41:49
I think we all have the tools for resilience. We are all resilient and capable of building resilience. We can all overcome hardship too. Whatever has happened to you in the past, or is happening to you right now, is an opportunity to learn the keys to practicing and building resilience. It shapes who you are and who you’re going to be, but it doesn’t define you. You get to choose which lessons to take from it; which direction you’ll go. When my husband died, I literally could have crawled in a ball and never shown my face again. He was everything. But one thing that I learned from him actually, as we’re going through all of this, he’d say, “What are we learning?”We would literally take notes on my phone when we were sitting in the hospital room, about what we are learning not only for us, but for our son.
The biggest part of resilience is, recognizing that things are going to happen. But they’re happening for you, not to you. Where are the opportunities in what you’re facing? The opportunity might be super small, like a chance to spend a little extra time with your child coloring, or it might be this huge opportunity to take a different look at your business that you've never looked at before. It’s all about learning how to overcome hardship. If that bad thing never happened, you would have never been able to see and do things differently. It gives you a new worldview. Resilience is a choice and so is overcoming hardship. It's a choice every day. Some days you might not feel strong. But you can use what’s happened as a tool for growth instead of a crutch or something holding you back. I’m choosing to look at life through the lens of possibility, and not of problems. It’s all about building resilience.
Crystalyn Aucoin 45:10
Yes, opportunity is something so overlooked every single day. It’s so easy to say, “Oh, my goodness we have this lockdown situation with the Coronavirus,” which is a scary thing for all of us. But there's also, “What are the opportunities right now? How can I make this good for me and my family? What can I take from it?” That's good. If we're not looking for the good, we will not see the good. If we continue to look for the bad, we will continue to find it. But you’re alive. Opportunity is today, in this right now. It’s in front of you. So learning how to overcome hardship and building resilience are the keys here.
Courtney Elmer 45:53
So beautiful, and a perfect note to wrap our conversation up. My last questions for you are: what’s your definition of success and how do you overcome hardship? What are your tips to building resilience?
Crystalyn Aucoin 46:05
Success to me is doing what makes me happy and fulfills me as a person. It's not fulfilling anyone else’s dream but mine. It's not a monetary amount. It's not what everybody else looks at me to perceive me as being successful or not. It’s: “Am I putting my life together in a way that I'm able to do things that make me happy every single day?” That’s success. It’s all about building resilience.
Courtney Elmer 46:44
Where can our listeners connect with you? I know they're going to want to see your jewelry and get to know you!
Crystalyn Aucoin 46:55
Courtney Elmer 47:10
Crystalyn, thank you so much for all that you shared with us today. Thank you for teaching us how to overcome hardship and the keys to building resilience.
Crystalyn Aucoin 47:13
Thank you for having me on. I enjoyed chatting about how to overcome hardship and the keys to building resilience.
Courtney Elmer 47:16
Thank you guys so much for tuning in. Make sure you’re subscribed to the show so that you're the first to know as soon as a new episode drops, and please take a second to leave us a review. It only takes a couple of moments of your time and your review helps more people find us who need to hear how to overcome hardship and the keys to building resilience. We’ll see you back here next time on the Systems Made Simple™ podcast — until then, go live your EffortLESS Life®.