I’ve a lot of things on my mind lately and my headspace has been a little too cluttered than usual. I don’t like being in such a state since it affects my overall productivity. So many things on my plate but I decided to just take a short pause to reset. It’s a good thing that where we set off to had erratic signal that allowed for a bit of a detox from being connected. It also helped that the people who we were with were a mix of old and new friends, more of the new ones that called for increased engagement and attention.
It helped that we were close to the sea. There is something about being so close to sun and sea. It does wonders to my soul and it heightens my senses like no other. I can just laze all day gazing at all the shades of blue and inhaling clean salty air. I don’t even have to do anything. That’s the whole beauty of it.
I’d like to take more of these brief breaks throughout the week, months or even days. I deliberately break the day with movement as a form of reset. It helps with context switching or even of getting out a of that feeling of being stuck. It also allows my mind to actively rest as I struggle with a challenge or a problem that seems to need alternative solutions. It is not a waste of time but is actually a more mindful use of it since you consciously anchor yourself so you can put your head and heart in their right places.
This morning I listened to an interview with Christine Day, CEO of Luvo. She used to be CEO of Lululemon and President of APAC for Starbucks. She spent most of her career or twenty full years growing Starbucks from a five-store business doing USD 2m a year into an iconic brand with USD 7B revenues before she left it in 2006. Then she moved on to lead Lululemon during a time when they have just gone public but had no real scale up strategy in place. So she set that up and grew from USD 190M to USD 1B in a span of five years. Now she is working on a passion business in the healthy food space.
Asked what is one advice that she would share to women leaders and she mentioned one line- Claim your power. We as women often are portrayed as the servant leader, always in servitude of another. There is nothing wrong with that but if you don’t claim power you are not really leading. What does it mean to claim power? It means standing for ourselves and what we believe in. It is being true and authentic to the purpose that we set out for ourselves. If we are not sure about this purpose, at least having clarity with the curiosities and choices that we make now. It is also leaning into the discomfort when faced with uncertainty and even when we make others feel uncomfortable. It is about the ability to set directions while living with the criticisms when you make the wrong call. Not easy but there is power in owning your purpose and how you do things.
For me, it is also about not being afraid to say you don’t know but then harnessing that power to figure things out. It is giving yourself the permission to be okay when you admit that you don’t know shit but that you will find out who can help you with it. It is about collecting the pieces of your broken self every single time and rising up to take on yet another day.
I rarely show dejection but today I allowed myself to do so. I drew in the energy I usually exude and felt the room’s energy consequently go down. This made me realize that our individual presence is really a gift of energy to others. There is power and responsibility in this. Power because when we retreat and disengage from what is happening, we choose to take back that gift. Responsibility because it rests on us where we direct this vibrance towards.
But thinking about it just in the context of power and responsibility does not articulate the sense of abundance that you get out of shared energy. When you engage with all your heart, mind and senses, the ripples of enthusiasm attracts others’ as well. There now is a vitality that is more than the sum of each individual’s contribution. A spark is ignited and lights up the room.
But today, I consciously gave myself the permission to let that spark dim a bit. And it’s okay to let others feel the light losing its effervescence. It is a way to self care so you can reset and share again. Everyday I choose to be the light and love that I want to see more of in this world. But today, I need a break from that.
I like the term “meaningful coincidences”. It is closely tied to my belief that there is no such thing as an acccident. Every interaction is part and parcel of a larger scheme of things that is not entirely within our control. I used to get super uptight and defensive when faced with scenarios that I feel I don’t have any influence over. I’m much better at it now and I owe it to a more conscious acceptance of the extent of what I can handle. It is a methodical approach that I have practiced to just address this. Hey this is how I know how to do things so I’ll just apply to just increase my success rate.
But I like being in the midst of these coincidences, curious with what sticks and what doesn’t, what I say yes to and what I choose to just let pass. The thought process and corresponding action makes me understand myself a bit more and also leaves me with increased empathy over another. I owe it to a more heightened awareness as I try to engage fully in the situations I choose to be in.
Given that each interaction is meaningful, I strive to give myself fully and be present in these seemingly unrelated coincidences. I continue to write about being present as a reminder to always be so, to lean in always despite the situation. Not easy but just gottta keep at it.
I love going on long runs. I can run by myself for hours until I get hungry. I obviously fear starvation over exhaustion. There is something about the steady rhythm of one foot in front of another over a period of time that relaxes me. I am unconcerned of speed or time or pace. I just am conscious of my form as I ease into a comfortable state. My mind wanders sometimes and I just let it. Then I reign it back in so I am simply present as I run. If I am with someone I try to sense if a conversation is warranted. Otherwise I just keep silent, happy to be in the company of someone who also chose to spend this time to run.
The long runs also signal that I am about to taper off and that I am at the peak of my training. This also means that my physical fitness is at an optimal state. I feel stronger and more confident as I tick off the rest of my program. It puts me in a good mental state as well, a readiness that springs from accomplishing the training milestones I set out for myself. The psyche in its proper state is what ties the whole thing together and what gives a holistic approach to the marathon preparation.
I look forward to the remaining weeks of training. There is nothing like starting and finishing something. This always gives me a confidence that is transportable to the various aspects of my life. There is power in the belief that we can accomplish things if we set our minds and hearts on these. This is a mindset that I’d like to practice at work too. It is much harder admittedly but the principles hold true. So let us just carry on with this training program called life 🙂
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with several strong women who are successful in each of their own fields. They spanned all ages from a wide-eyed 24 year old tech CEO to a 50 something who built a tech business when computers were still as big as a room. What struck me about the conversations was that these individuals seemed to have a gentleness about them even if it was obvious that they were tough as nails. You don’t want to mess with them but you also know that they will nurture you so you can grow professionally.
This was the sense that I got and it gave me so much comfort. I am usually ill at ease when thrust in a situation where I have to network and initiate conversation. But being surrounded by girls in tech allowed me to let my guard down and relax a bit more. I did not have to flex my hustle muscle so much. These women are my tribe and with them I am in a safe space.
The highlight of this event was meeting the lady who heads Girls in Tech Malaysia. She was one of the panelists and she touched on a topic that I feel strongly about. She talked about the guilt that we feel as women and as mothers when we spend our time growing our professions or pursuing interests outside our family lives. She mentioned how her children grew up to discover their own interests and identities too as she discovered hers. It is refreshing to hear these same sentiments articulated with such grace. There is power in this. But this strength may be further magnified if we continue to build this tribe of girls who empower others.
I have to constantly remind myself to be present in all that I do, no matter how mundane. It becomes second nature to be thinking of the next things that need to be done, of how the day will flow. Then it becomes how the week will play out then the months then the years. Or i could also be fixated on something that happened yesterday, brooding over things I did not do, words I strongly said. The past and future clutter my headspace.
So I practice deliberately reminding myself to “just do this one thing now”. I try to be fully present even if it is just showering or just stretching. It becomes more interesting when I apply this to what I consider as matters of great consequence. When I just run, just work, just talk, just listen, just be silent, just pray, just read, just write. I’d like to just be in every thought, utterance and action.
This also means employing all the senses in my interactions. Doing so allows me to also remember things more intimately. The senses imprint our memories in a special way. We recall details more if we engage all senses, making all our faculties fully present to receive the moment. When we sense, we are present and we remember- all just by being here, now.