June 28, 2018

The Guiding Principles of My Life

Imagine if you could make your dream a reality by passionately pursuing what you enjoy doing. 

Let me explain how this can become a reality – A dream written down on paper becomes a goal. A goal broken down to steps becomes a plan. A plan backed up by action becomes a reality.

My own experience with my career is an example of how to successfully apply the above principles to achieve your goals. 

Life is a journey. It is beautiful, crazy, frustrating, promising, exciting, difficult, amazing all at the same time. The only hope with which we keep moving forward, is indeed with which I move forward daily, “Everything in life is cyclical and just as good things must come to an end sometime – so too must the tough times” It is what my life so far has taught me. Truly, my life has been a roller-coaster ride with a mix of achievements, failures and learning. My childhood years were the best years of my life; filled with life and energy. My parents believed in all-round development and ensured that I was ahead of the race by letting me participate in various competitions (recitation, dramas, sports, science talks, debates, singing and dancing). I remember them having me deliver demo speeches at home just to ensure that I overcome stage fright. The values my parents inculcated in me were “To be myself, To be honest and To be fair”. I was busy and I was happy. However, a lesson I learnt early is the lesson I spoke of above; that all good things come to an end sometime, sometimes unfairly, and far too soon. When I was 10 years old, my father passed away after suffering from a massive cardiac arrest. This came as a shock. It was hard to believe that someone important is not coming back. The feeling of pain and distress was overwhelming especially because he had died before his time. I tried to overcome my grief. Maturity and independence became my coping mechanisms. My outlook over life was forever changed. I became independent and responsible and was far more mature than others in my age group. Grief taught me its lessons like only grief can…

Even so, I never gave up on education and learning. The lessons learnt in one’s formative years are not easily lost, even after the loss of a person who taught them. I completed my graduation in Science (Computer Science) and Post graduation in Management Studies (specialising in Human Resources and Marketing). I topped the college (MBA from R.V Institute of Management) and this opened a lot of doors for me to achieve bigger things in life.

After post-graduation, it was time to get married and settle down. Even though it’s easy to forget this in the rat race, a satisfying personal life is just as important, if not more, as a successful professional life. From being a carefree career girl, I became a matured married woman with little difficulty, thanks to the lessons my experience had taught me. Then just as naturally, I transitioned into motherhood; I did enjoy the transition which comprised of coping with responsibilities, managing household chores, cooking and raising my children (I am blessed with a son -11 years and daughter-8 years). My inner strength comes from the strength of my family (mother, husband and children). They form a power source from which I can pull in times of need. They support me in handling and managing overwhelming situations.

My professional career in Human Resources (Recruitment & Talent Management) helped me achieve milestones such as; At Standard Chartered Bank Global Business Services, I was identified for a specialised Training – Gallup Strength Finder Coaching Certification(completed 70 Strength Finder Discovery sessions to International Graduates coaching them on leveraging their strengths at work with an average of 5 star rating); Awarded Value Champ ‘Creative’ for the rollout of Global Risk Leadership programmes; designed and managed(communications and Blogs) on the Bridge page for Global Succession planning and Talent Reviews; Designed global processes for Mentoring, Leadership Programmes; Diversity programmes. My strengths (detail oriented, hard working, strive for perfection, focused on execution of tasks, deep thinker, long-term planner, research-oriented, manage risks, slow to trust people – High D) helped me excel in my job as a Talent Manager with a good Performance rating and promotion. I was committed to my job, worked hard and became a Subject Matter Expert, developed a good working relationship with teams, adhered to quality standards, took complete ownership of tasks and gained the trust of clients and team.

While conducting the Strength Finder Discovery sessions, I used to wonder “Won’t it be wonderful if I was engaged in a role that primarily involved coaching and facilitation”? Though I had built credibility and was doing well at work, the constant question on my mind was “Is this something that I see myself doing 10 years from now? Will I still enjoy this?” When I realised that the answer to this question was “No”. I started thinking of options that I could consider to make work more meaningful, develop an identity for myself, a sense of satisfaction, maintain work-life balance and most importantly to do things at my pace.

One of the books that inspired me at that juncture was “100 $ Startup – Chris Guillebeau”. This gives insight on moving past the barriers that we and others place in front of our desires.  This book presents a blueprint to help you start your own micro business – one that can coexist with whatever you are doing, and/or replace your traditional job. The big idea is, you do something meaningful that you like to do, make money while doing it and define your own future and freedom.

I remember when I was serving my notice as a Talent Manager, many people asked me “You are doing very well as a Talent Manager handling a global portfolio, Are you sure you want to quit this job and pursue freelancing?” I was sure of my strengths, goals and purpose and it helped me stay on track. 

I knew that time is limited, so I can’t waste it living someone else’s life. I wanted to follow my intuition. Self-Belief is a key to success in life. I spent a lot of time thinking about my strengths, aspirations and various career options that were available.  I came across Dheya workshop details while browsing on the internet and was excited to have found something in line with my aspiration. I read the role description of the Mentor, spoke to the Dheya team and also connected with some of the experienced Mentors to ensure that I was on the right track. Once I made up my mind, I attended the 2 day L1 workshop that Naveen facilitated in Bangalore in May 2017. It was a power packed 2-day session with great insights. As a result of the Creative Visualisation process that was covered in the L2 Workshop, I got clarity on what I wanted to achieve in life. I visualised myself being the “Best Career Development Facilitator in India, Dheya Career Mentors” I am in pursuit of this goal since the time I wrote this goal in my workbook.  This exercise is very powerful as it builds inner belief, positivity and confidence that things that you wish to happen are actually going to happen. Success means different to different people. Success to me is to develop an identity in Career Guidance and Planning. I am extremely passionate about Career Guidance and Planning and driven to make my mark in this space.

One of the options that I was keen to pursue after quitting my corporate role was to be Soft Skills Trainer /Freelancer. I was actively seeking Soft skills freelancing opportunities by speaking to my contacts and searching on Job portal. I was disappointed as I did not see any opportunities coming through. One of the quotes that helped me remain optimistic was “If things go by your will, it’s great, if they don’t, even better, because then it is happening according to the will of the Almighty and he will always want the best for you.

I started focusing my efforts towards being a Career Development Facilitator by reading the training materials, listening to the call recording and shadowing a Senior CDF. After shadowing two sessions, I was geared up to start conducting the Guidance sessions from Jan 2018. The moment the first session was scheduled, I started my preparation by analysing the graph, going through the strengths, abilities and interest, making notes of the most suitable futuristic career options and practised the flow based on the structure shared in the dashboard. I completed the first session and felt happy and satisfied – I loved what I did. One thing that kept me going is that I loved what I did. I enjoyed conducting the Career Guidance session as every child was different, every interaction was different, every experience was unique and finally a sense of satisfaction to have injected a seed of positivity in the child’s mind and help the child dream something big in life made my day. After every Guidance session, I would ask myself – i) What are the things that went well? ii) What are the things that can be improved in the next session? Inspired by Steve Jobs quote “You have got to find what you love. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you have not found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

My next step was to increase the awareness in the society using various channels – Posting flyers in the clubhouse, sending emails to residents through the association, sending digital ads through Whatsapp. I must admit that I did not get any response from the ads and I was disappointed that things were not working out. It slowly dawned on me that conducting an Awareness session to the parents in the society may be another channel to raise awareness. At that point of time, I had not answered to these questions i) how to get the parents together? ii) where do I conduct the session? As I was thinking on these lines, I got introduced to a teacher who conducted tuitions in the society. I explained my role to her and to my surprise she said that she had been receiving a lot of enquiries on Career counselling and she took note of my contact details. She shared the list of parents who had expressed interest and was also kind enough to let me use her flat (where she conducts tuitions) for the Awareness session. I then created a WhatsApp group of the parents who had expressed interest, provided a brief description on what they can expect from the session, finalised the date and time based on the availability of parents, kept the required resources ready for the presentation and practiced the flow of the session. I conducted an awareness session to these parents as per schedule. Of the 15 parents who had expressed interest in attending the session, 10 parents attended the session and 4 parents signed up for the session (2 for Level 1 and 2 for Level 2) with a 40% conversion rate. The session was very well received. I had my eureka moment as I figured out the best way to raise awareness. I also got reminded of what Anand had mentioned in the L2 workshop “we are all connected in this universe, if you want to genuinely do something, the universe will support you”. As I started conducting the Guidance sessions in the society, the word of mouth spread and I started receiving calls enquiring on the different products and offerings.

I continued conducting the Guidance sessions diligently. Time flies by in the blink of an eye, and Dheya Newsletter for the period Jan – Mar 2018 was released. As I was going through the different sections of the newsletter, I came across a section which covered CDFs with a 5-star rating for at least 3 consecutive sessions…much to my delight…I saw my name featured in this section. It was a thrill and quite a feather in my cap. It is a very satisfying experience to receive a positive feedback from the clients. This feedback encourages me to improvise further in an attempt to be the best. This helped me gain confidence, increase my network and credibility.  

As I am writing an inspirational story, you may think I am doing a great job, however I have my share of difficult situations, tough choices to make, dilemma of work-life balance, priorities to focus on…so the secret to success is to remain focused on your goal, go with the flow, chose the right path, enjoy what you do and give your best in what you do.

Thanks to the Dheya team for asking me to write my story. Special thanks to Naveen, Anand, Sanketh, Avril and Tanya for their timely support.

All of us would want to taste success or understand how the road to success looks like. So what are you waiting for?

“Take up one idea, make that one idea your life, think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.” – Swami Vivekananda

Rashmi Rao
Dheya Career Mentor

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