I was 17, when my father put me in front of 10 very experienced, senior IITM Professors to talk about Internal Combustion Engines knowing the fact that I was 10th graduated and knew nothing about it except for the fact that I had grown up seeing him work on them. I have told this story to many, through many modes and in many situations but today I realise that it is no more cute, it is no more scary because what I am doing today is scarier and is making my heartbeats go much more faster and making my palms drenched with sweat each time I think about what would happen if I am not able to achieve my set goals.
My fears resonated through every inch of my thoughts when I read an article in which, Krista Vernoff, Grey’s Anatomy’s Boss wrote – “What if I just … fail publicly? That was the terror. Fear of failure. Fear of humiliation. Fear that all the people who are fighting for a little more gender balance in Hollywood’s director assignments would look at my work and be like, “Um … thanks for trying, I guess?” And fear that the people protecting the status quo would say, “See?”” It was this minute, that at 4 am I decided to pen down how I will go on to face this monster in my head, so that this moment could remain with me for many years to come, sharing with many out here like me, who are fighting those dreadful thoughts as I write this.
Last time I felt so breathless, I blamed it on Dad at 17, I am as of now done, blaming anyone around me for this breathlessness at 48. This fear is a brain child of my confidence, my ability to achieve my goals, my trust on my team, my faith on the cause I have taken up, my DNA of seeing challenges on its face with a smile, so what am I so breathless now for? just because my fear is blown up in its size, does it change the fact that we are who we are, just because the demon ahead of you, on your face is not that small any more, does it stop you from doing what you do best? So, here I am, figuring to kill my demon right here with you, as you join my journey by choosing to be here with me in my most vulnerable moment as a leader.
For starters, I would like to make it clear that, this is my way of facing, fighting my fears, things I got as tools from reading all the stories about others in the past, about literally googling “How to fight your worse fears?” and using those things that would suit me best.
Go down to Basics – In the end, it is all about what has gone to make you what you are today, it is about knowing what you are good at and what you have done in the past to get out of your worse situations, it is those very things that would eventually enable you to stop fearing your steps ahead. I am going down to my basics starting today, I was a hustler and still am. I would choose to travel on an empty stomach, to purchase fuel for my car to drive to another city to conduct the meetings. I was the one who set out to VITTBI, to set up an office in the university, in the middle of nowhere and offer a grant of INR2Lacs to innovative student ideas, when I did not have enough money on me to pay my office rent in Bangalore. So, I go down to basics today, I know what I am made off, no more reasons, this new version me, who plans things out, who understands the outcomes, who strategises her moves, should stand aside until she takes the stage, the old me, who just gets shit done, has to get to work now…
Don’t look for perfection – It is very easy said than done, especially when you have a young and passionate team that is looking up at you every minute with those puppy eyes, because they look up to you for being that perfect friend, leader, woman and a mother. How do I choose to not be perfect? I now today, realise that all these months, I have taught my team to work towards perfection, but it is now time for me to show them otherwise. I am sure for the great leaders they are, they will learn from this too. And, as for me, it is time for me to look at the end goal and not at the perfect approach of reaching there. We are not looking for a perfect way to our goals, we are aiming to achieve our goals, one way or the other.
Imagine the worse – It is important to know the worse, it is important to take a minute and think clearly about the outcome if the worse was to happen. What if all these breathless moments, makes me get a heart attack, will that help my cause, my team and our goals. Every person needs to die some day, what if I am gone today and you suddenly realise that there is nothing more fearful than death it self. Every thing other than death is something that can be taken care of, something that can be figured out. Suddenly, I realise that this super great goal that I am staring at is a small moment of my great life that I have lived and will live going ahead.
Talk with your people – For many months now, I have been acting like I am alone, when I am not. I have thousands of people around me, all different kinds but one thing in common, they are all MY PEOPLE…. So, from a week or so, I started talking to few of them, speaking about my fears, sharing my thoughts, sharing my challenges and something magical happened. I saw help come in ways I least expected. I have seen my mentors, my team, my children, my friends, my investors, my members, my mentees come as support. I have seen them step up for me. All this aside, just talking to them has made me clearer in my thoughts, made me stronger in my actions and made me realise that I am really not alone in this.
Celebrate small achievements – Rewards, awards always motivates us, humans. No doubts about it. It is what we are because of the way we have grown up. We would not fight with other kids in the day care, because our mothers promised us a candy, excelled in exams to get a trip with friends in holidays, worked late night at office for promotions and choose to be an entrepreneur for all its perks that it comes with. So don’t stop celebrating your small achievements to reach where you have to. I had stopped doing that of late. I would achieve a small step towards this grand goal and I would look at the next thing to be sorted out. It would only help me if I take that couple of hours out of my day to forget everything that is around and celebrate what I have just been able to achieve, however small a thing that is. I will start doing that now.
So, step up, take a deep breath and remember, “You were made for this”
My monster – My Goal: December 15th & 16th, hosting 10K souls at KTPO in Bangalore….