I’ve been inspired by the International Women’s Day #choosetochallenge Campaign, especially the message that we are responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. Not withstanding the immense loss the world has faced, which for me also includes the loss of one of the most important men in my life, the comedian, the organizer; my late dad Tejbahadur Singh, COVID has been the year of pause, self-care and reflection I very much needed. I wanted to take the time to share a few key insights from my reflections, I have quoted the books that helped me get to specific realizations.
One of the most important and useful books I have read as of late is Radical Candor by Kim Scott, I am very grateful to my friend Carla Ciepliski who mentioned this book to me a while ago. As a founder and CEO, my role is not simply to run a company but to lead people, I honestly don’t think I am good at either, but persistence is a quality I definitely have, so I keep persisting by reading new books, studying other leaders, applying my learnings, sharing insights with my team, letting them know when I am trying new things, in hopes of being a better leader everyday. My team tells me that this approach has helped them, and I hope the words in this essay can in some way help others too.
Another one of my favourite reads and discoveries has been the book The Untethered Soul by Michael Zinger, which has helped me solidify the belief, that my thoughts are fleeting and being mindful is truly about having the ability to notice your unhelpful thoughts and challenge them with new ways of thinking. I have made a list of some that immediately come to mind, but I would love to hear from you the reader, what is a from and to thought that you will choose to challenge your thinking on?
- From “I must be liked by everyone” To truly embracing “I am who I am” As a fierce, unapologetic, challenger of everything; who was raised to believe she could do, be and have whatever she wanted; in a culture where healthy debate, regular criticism and banter is part of the norm; I was pretty beaten down by some of the feedback I received on being “too aggressive” or “pushy” or “rubbing people the wrong way”. I perceived this feedback as a serious character flaw that I had to change to be more likable and thus successful at running my business. I now accept that I am not everyone’s cup of tea, especially with people who are more comfortable and very much prefer to be what Kim Scott defines as “ruinously empathetic” in her book Radical Candor. I realize for those who are not fans of my radically candid nature my behaviour might come across as less than pleasing and I am OK with that.
- From “I Must Keep Chasing After All the New Things!” To “I commit to appreciating and deepening connections!” As an innovator, I absolutely love new things, especially creating new businesses, connecting with new people and customers, but I also realized after reading Mark Manson’s book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” that part of my anxiousness to be liked came with chasing thrills and finding new clients to prove my worth and existence. I considered this part of my “growth”. I now realize true growth lies in the challenge of creating stability and deepening existing connections instead of constantly looking to form new ones. In my company’s new strategic plan, we are very clear about focussing our efforts on pleasing our current clients and on the stability of our team.
- From “I must help/ rescue them!” To “I am happy to help if they really want it!” One of the biggest patterns I am challenging is my thinking around The Four Agreements. In his book, don Miguel Ruiz defines these agreements as 1) Be Impeccable with Your Word, 2) Don’t Take Anything Personally, 3) Don’t Make Assumptions and 4) Always Do Your Best. When I wasn’t following these, I took personal responsibility for other people’s problems which of course caused me to create some dysfunctional relationships with myself and previous colleagues. When I saw someone not living up to their full self, I attempted to rescue them without being asked, this of course was not always welcome behaviour and it led to me taking things personally; Which of course is an excellent recipe that often consists of a rather poor mental health state, a cup of “making up stories”, 2 tablespoons my big EGO, a litre of self pity and a dash of salt to taste = No thank you!
- From “The world favours people who are…..” To “I will take back my personal power” One of the biggest self-limiting beliefs I have had is that the world really favours men, engineers, agreeable nice people who always know the right thing to do or say. As a result of this belief, what did I do? I paid handsomely to partner or hire these magical, nice, amazing people who, of course, were everything I was not. I gave them little to no direction, set very few expectations and then got really upset when they didn’t perform up to my “high standards”. After spending a considerable amount of my business career not trusting myself and constantly giving my power away – to a tune of over half a million dollars – I have finally learned my half a million-dollar lesson to not give my power away! This important lesson came to me by watching one of my favourite mentors Oprah Winfrey and in one of her videos, Oprah mentioned a couple things:
- She was able to take her business to the next level, when she stopped trying to be a Barbara Walters and instead she focussed on being a better version of herself.
- She acknowledged that when she was in her 20s, she was giving her power away, once she learned to take better responsibility for herself and truly
My company, PACE.global, is ten years old this year and now, a year after the pandemic first hit, the company and I are very, very different. We have a clear vision of implementing seamless change for every human involved in the process. To truly activate certainty for ourselves and our clients, we all know what our 1, 2 and 3 priorities are. We have doubled our full-time staff to support our plans for growing with our existing customers in a stable manner. We are working on establishing and refining our OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), so we each know exactly what role we play on the team and how we can contribute to the bigger vision. There are more exciting things coming for our highly successful BDT program in 2021 and 2022 – details to be revealed soon!
One of my favourite Wayne Dyer quotes is, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
In closing, I leave you with one question directly from the International Women’s Day Initiative, “How are you going to choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality today?” I would also love to hear from you if you have changed a pattern of your own or if any of the above five resound with you.