Ask… and you shall receive

When I moved to India four years ago, I came with a suitcase full of hopes, dreams and aspirations – in addition to the boxes and cartons that we transported to move home. Fifteen years in the corporate world had brought a sense of accomplishment that egged me on to take the next step and set up ‘my own thing‘ as I often found myself saying. I was brimming with ideas, color schemes of my own place, the people I would serve, the work I would do, the sense of fulfillment I would go to bed with…

My own thing… (wistful sigh)

I knew what the picture looked like, the visionary that I am, but when it got down to the basics, haha!! I was flummoxed with the what-to and how-to in a country that had so many nooks and crevices in terms of laws, legalities and schemes. And then there was the trust factor – but let’s leave that for another day because this post, honestly, is about the foremost and simplest task, but also the hardest one to break out from for most pre-entrepreneurs.

It is about asking.

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Learning to identify my dominant working / leadership / entrepreneurship style meant I had to dig deep and look at what I did best, what made me feel good about myself and what drained me. I figured out through trial and error that I was good at big-picture space-holding, and generating impact and vision. So my business looked good on my creative and visionary canvas.

But as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t know what to do with the germ of an idea and how to go about it. I didn’t even know how to take the first step – because…

I didn’t even know what the next step was!

Honestly, it could have been fairly easy, if I allowed it to be, because I was surrounded by women entrepreneurs who were enjoying their experience (or so I perceived). I guess I just felt a bit small and shy to put myself in the novice’s place (and I say this with complete humility too). It was embarrassing for me to publicly acknowledge my lack of knowledge on the system – even though I blamed the system for having such confusing and hard-to-decipher channels of information.

I was living in my make-believe world of ‘what-if‘s & assumed mis-information. I assumed that the cost of setting up my business would be too high and I assumed that CAs and lawyers came too expensive. My list of assumptions were slowly turning into my reality.

I have no idea when I started taking on these assumptions as permission to avoid stepping into my power and instead choosing to succumb to the incapacitating bliss of ignorance.

It wasn’t long before the frustration of stagnation started to shake me up. It was something like a festering abscess – this inertia of sitting in ignorance when the only thing stopping me were all sorts of misplaced and unheard of fears.

So I did the best thing I could ever do for myself.

I took charge – and I asked for help.

ask

It started with little things – but my heart and pride were fluttering about like I was about to be slaughtered with a massive ‘NO’. It started with asking for help in finding a venue. In five minutes, I had a 5-star business hotel as a lead! I went on to ask them for a special price – they were so impressed by the work I was doing, they offered to host all my future events!

I walked out of the meeting really wondering if things were actually supposed to be so easy? I was aware that this was not indicative of how much effort I would have to put into the work itself, but I was even more aware of another critical piece of the puzzle.

While my work would always be mine, I realized that I didn’t always have to do everything by myself. I had to learn to ask. I had to learn that asking for help and information was not a sign of weakness but more so a sign of self-awareness and strength. To recognize your forte and to acknowledge that you don’t have to be an expert at everything is a big thing. To recognize the expertise that other partners bring to the table is an even bigger act of collaborative power.

So there you have it – my nugget for today – ask… and you shall receive!


 

Luvena Rangel is the founder of The Curvy Yogi and a core team member of Vibha Women Empowerment for Entrepreneurship. She is a Holistic Health, Yoga, Ayurveda & Meditation educator and Co-Active Life Coach. She enjoys writing, reading and reaching out to women, helping them overcome crises and shine in life and business.

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The Return of the Prodigal Yogi

I took a while to choose the title for this blog. I was chewing on AWOL, astray, MIA, AWOL (again) and finally settled on the first thing that came to mind when I had to write this – prodigal. Yes, well, technically, there wasn’t any extravagant wasting of money, but the allegory wasn’t lost on me. And while the narrative of the prodigal son’s return ends up stirring our moral and conscientious values around money, loyalty and parental indulgence despite the misplaced audacity and belligerence of their children, I couldn’t shake off the deeper feelings of welcome and acceptance after my brief hiatus from regular practice.

So, yes, the prodigal yogi has returned – and with that return, comes an insight, an understanding and endless opportunity to do what I absolutely love – introspect, dissect and make sense of the whole experience.

For, in the grand scheme of things, what else is yoga otherwise, if not to apply and make sense of life through it?

But, the making sense would have to graciously make way for a little synopsis of a 2017 that came and went with ravaging ferocity – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Yikes! That fracture

The fracture that gave me the BREAK I needed

Although the fracture took a toll on my physical availability, years of practice, allowed for more basic strengths to come forth and establish themselves. Creativity, detachment, acceptance and presence of mind – all these qualities, amongst others, presented themselves at times when they were needed the most, unbelievable to onlookers even. The year went on to heal the fracture, but it also deepened the wounds with emotional turmoil, mental unrest and a sense of disquiet that often saw me questioning my own spiritual allegiance. Thankfully, the year ended with hope and faith emerging strong and gracefully setting me back on the path that I had, through circumstances, strayed away from.

So…

This return to path, inevitably for me, also returns me to the 68″ x 24″ of space that is mine – the yoga mat.

yoga-mats

Cleared for practice, with some limitations, I spent the months since September 2017, courting doubt and befriending procrastination, succumbing to a truancy from yoga that reeked of fear and justified the absenteeism with much fervor to anyone who asked me about it – including myself.

I didn’t even include yoga, or any of its affiliated words in my 2018 goals.

I chose to just wait and see – or so I’d like to believe.

And yet, my faithful yoga mat, with humble grace and perseverance, stayed put right where I last left in – in a place that was visible to me every single day – undemanding yet urging it a way much like best friends who’ve lost touch, or perhaps even had a falling out, and have forgotten why.

Until a few days ago, I finally took that step to her, my yoga mat (yes, she’s a she) and made up.

The prodigal yogi had returned.

But in my story, I didn’t ask for a third of anything, I didn’t ask for results, I didn’t ask for a quick fix to lost time. I didn’t ask for anything, actually. So we just picked up where we left off.

And that was enough.

I went through the practices I had often taught my students – the centering, the intention, the breath, the asana… and slowly fear and doubt crept in.

Insidiously, those questions attempted to seduce me away.

“Can you do this? Should you be doing this?”

I wasn’t sure. I was pretty much tempted to wait till September 2018 (doctor’s visit to schedule the next surgery for the implant removal) or a blurry intention to take a doctor’s opinion on indistinct asanas.

It didn’t take long for the realization to hit me – I was doing what I had trained myself to do over the many, many years of living in my cocoon of safety. I was allowing myself to be lured to a space of pseudo safety to avoid challenging the presumptions of harm, injury and hurt that could possibly cause me pain.

What’s the worst that could happen? I’d feel sore, have some pain, not be able to get into the asana as I’d left it months ago?

So???

So… I practiced what I preached.

I showed up.

I followed the moves and cues that came like second nature. I paid attention to alignments that were new to me. I discovered that I was working with an entirely new body! I tensed at attempting my Suryanamaskara. I marveled at coming down in Ashtanganamaskar, yet noticed my grief at being unable to take my leg back in Ashwasanchalana. I was kind to my right ankle that cried in Veerabhadrasana and grateful for its amazing strength in Vrikshasana. I paid attention to those little crunches in my ankle that reminded me of nuts and bolts instead of bone and sinew and asked them permission to explore this new territory. Natarajasana that was available on the left side but urged me to move to the wall into Saral Natarajasana for the right. Hamstrings were tight in Downward Facing Dog, but my spine that was supple in Sphinx and Bhujanga. The energy of Kaliasana strengthening my legs and conviction to face obstacles and the grounding into Ekapada Rajakapota that allowed me hope that all is not lost.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. It did (a bit). It was scary. I often tell my students that we don’t have X-ray machines or vision to see what’s happening inside our bodies, but we do have sense and awareness. So I used that – and fell back on what I knew I had to do.

I listened to my body… and I stayed with it. It was a new body, a newer practice and I loved it enough to respect its limitations.

Without a grudge and devoid of judgment, the mat and the practice welcomed me back into my space – like a childhood bedroom that has been aired and kept ready for my return. No questions asked, just acceptance, compassion and space – to show up and move on.


Luvena Rangel, founder of The Curvy Yogi, is one of Bangalore’s leading Yoga Anatomy educators and active supporter of social cause. An avid reader, writer and motivational speaker, she is often on the panel of various educational establishments to speak on a variety of topics.

What’s your Blueprint for 2018?

Wish you all a very Happy New Year 2018! On this occasion, I desire, that you achieve all your goals this year. This is my first post of the year, and I wanted to start with a wish that has the potential to come true, when YOU put your thoughts into it and pursue it wholeheartedly, giving your 100%.

So, how did you celebrate the New Year? Was it by going to a party and dancing away to glory? Or you stayed back home, called a few friends, and rejoiced their company? Or you were out of town holidaying, and rang in the New Year in your favorite destination, in the presence of your friends and/or family? Or you feel, the hoopla around New Year’s celebration is too overrated, it just fizzes away too quickly? So you don’t see it as a special time and refrain from celebrating it.

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I believe the New Year is the pretext to start afresh. It is the reason to look at things from a different perspective, a time to reconcile with the past and look forward to the future. I spend the last day of the fading year and the first day of the new year in solitude. This is the time I invest in introspection. I look back at the year which went by, the decisions I had made, what went right and bask in the glory of my achievements. I also look at what went wrong, analyze those mistakes, learn from them, and work on what I can do better next time. It is the time I give to myself to chalk out how I want my coming year to be. Work out what I want to achieve in the new year and create my BLUEPRINT for the new year.

I also spend some time with my personal coaching clients around this time. I was having one such deep conversation with a client a couple of days before the New Year’s Eve. I asked him normally, So how was your 2017? To which he answered IT WAS TERRIBLE! Immediately, I saw trouble, so I probed further…

What followed was a 2 hour long mind-boggling conversation where we discussed in detail why he felt like this. I was intrigued by the fact that he summed up the entire year with just one sentence, the year was terrible! After our discussion, he came to a conclusion that the year was not completely terrible after all. It was more of a roller-coaster ride.

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On the positive side, he had traveled to places he thought he would never travel, started new investments, enhanced his bond with his family, learned new skills, accomplished so much in the professional font, got a promotion, completed his travel goals in 2017.

On the hindsight, he lost his father to heart attack, he lost some money in the new investments he had bet on, he didn’t take care of his health, he felt he didn’t spend enough time with his family and he could’ve done better as an individual in 2017.

When I asked him, “tell me 10 awesome things and 10 really bad things that happened to you in 2017”, he took much longer to complete the list for 10 bad things against the list for good things! How fascinating is that?

This reinforced that as human beings we love to amplify our sufferings and underplay our achievements. We love to believe that we are struck by misfortune, and look for empathy from others to feel better. The problem is, most often we stay in the comfort of our uncomfortable pain, just because we get empathy from others. It’s like that drug which makes us feel great for a while, then throws us back to that zone again! We just refuse to come out of it and the worst part is that we deny the fact that we like to stay in that zone!

When I asked him, “have you created your Blueprint for 2018?” He asked “what is that? No, I have not. I have nothing specific to achieve this year!” Ta da da… there you go, if you have nothing awesome to look forward, how will you shrug off yourself from that sympathy zone to an action zone? Fortunately, he saw the problem and took step to fix it. By 5th Jan he shared his Blueprint with me. I must admit, he has worked on himself and come up with some brilliant things that he wants to do this year. Which will for sure transform him to be a much better version of him.

Blueprint

If you are curious, what is this Blueprint, and how does this work; then let me explain this to you. Human beings achieve better when they have their eyes set on clearly defined goals; and they chalk out action plan to achieve these goals systematically and repeatedly. That’s what is a blueprint. Your blueprint is like the direction you follow to achieve your goals. It’s like the Google maps for your destination. Like Google maps, your blueprint helps you choose the quickest, most effective and least traffic (read obstacles) prone path for you.

Have you created your Blueprint for 2018? If yes, sending you more power to achieve them! If not, I would love to help you create it. All you have to do is register for Connect To Success Preview on 21st Jan. Find below the registration details.

https://www.facebook.com/events/320460045114443/

Would you take your life to the next level this year?

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PS: This post was first published on https://srijatablog.wordpress.com/

We totally enjoyed speaking to this lady in leadership. Success in Inclusion especially at the top. With the MD, ANZ, Bangalore, Pankajam Sridevi.

#cheriankuruvila and I thought that this time of the year might be just the right time to venture towards Manyata tech park, considering most people are in shut down mode, with the holidays.

We were right.

We discovered Pankajam was there while many were already enjoying the holidays. Pankajam Sridevi, my first impressions being that she has this inner strength that comes with experience, many opportunities to reflect and high amount of self awareness.

She is vibrant and energetic, and has a genuine smile that reaches her eyes. Her stance and presence have a rock solid feel especially when she makes eye contact to take you in. We spent over an hour with this Woman in Leadership, and found the conversation to be practical, insightful and deeply reflective of the ups and downs, the humility and the great mindset this lady carries within her.

My take aways from today’s meeting with Pankajam Sridevi, the MD, ANZ Bangalore;
1. Her ability to identify herself as an equal, and push herself forward, amidst very difficult times along her career journey
2. She boldly voiced her opinion about respect for women, when a comment was passed during a conference, by the moderator commoditizing women. And aims to continue to create a culture that’s inclusive.
3. She shared her experiences on being vulnerable, and how as a Leader, that continues to be a strength. It draws people in and increases engagement.
4. She makes a conscious effort to identify the roles of drama ( how we as women sometimes play the victim role ) and how she calls it out, time & again.
5. She spoke of how Power and ego go hand in hand, and it’s tough, but necessary to play a role beyond the egos hold on self.
6. She has led teams, which have had peers as direct reports. And shared experiences on how she reached out to dissolve unspoken tension, to ensure mature and open conversations can lead to stronger collaboration.
7. She talked of the many times she pushed herself into newer territories, beyond her comfort zone. Her child, her family, the expressed & unexpressed expectations of her. And how support helps. And how taking tough decisions are tough but must be taken.
8. She spoke of how authenticity and genuineness are deal breakers where strengthening relationships are concerned at work and at home.
She pays attention.
She’s kind and strong.
She’s vulnerable. She leads and she follows.

 

The author is an Executive Coach, works with people who want to see Positive Lasting changes in their lives

#carolinefernandes

#iamvibha #vibhawomen #womeninleadership #womeninentrepreneurship #startups #womenincorporate

There’s a massive sea of change unfolding for many many women over the last few decades

A few decades earlier in countries that have high Western influences in them, and more recently in countries like ours.
I interact / collaborate / coach / learn from a lot of women and the need / search to make a mark or identify is high. This is not to say women want to compete with each other or with men.
I interact / collaborate / coach / learn from a lot of women and the need / search to make a mark or identify is high. This is not to say women want to compete with each other or with men. Competition with the outer world may not be the focus. But more about women really coming into their own, for themselves.
For some women it might continue well past them becoming mothers; transitioning from a role in Corporate India to opting to either resume or becoming entrepreneurs in micro / small sized businesses.
The initial phase of transition / exploration with her identity, can be daunting for many.
What will happen to the family ?
Are the kids going to suffer due to neglect from me as a mother ?
How do I catch up with the world ? ( bevause there have been massive changes since she took a break )
Will my family support me ?
What do I do if they don’t ?
I need seed capital.
What if I fail ?
Will my idea be rejected ?
Will I face rejection ?
If I do fail, what happens next ?
Also with this growing need to explore and discover, many are afraid to be seen as feminine. Like ‘being feminine’ is weak or flighty, or lacking strength.
Femininity wields tons of strength harnessed over years and years of experience with life. After all experiences teach all of us, regardless of gender. It’s upto us to ask – ‘What did I learn from this ?’
What are your thoughts on discovering more about yourself ?
About how gracefully embracing femininity can be a constant source of strength in your decision making and taking action ?
How can each of us engage, to support this change, that in many many subtle and more obvious ways, is having an impact on the family structure and function, on ways we all collaborate at work, on the economy and relationships at large ?

#iamvibha #vibhawomen #womeninleadership #womenentrepreneurs

Tech or Not to Tech – ‘People’ are the answer

The uproar and cackle around tech tech tech sometimes gets me thinking!
Imagine..what would you do..if you only focused on tech.and not people?
If your product/ service in tech was so hi-tech..people couldn’t relate to it and it wasn’t user-friendly? Heck, you’d have all that effort, money and excitement for nothing!
Tech maybe the backbone..but it has to impact something..and that something is people.
People are about emotions..not technology.
If you haven’t connected with them..in some way..perhaps made their lives better..in some way..
Well..you’re as good as gone
Focus should be given where focus is due.
The author is a Social Entrepreneur.
Twitter: CarolineVibha