I grew up in Lucknow, a city in northern India, and got married in 2014 to my childhood sweetheart. We moved to New York City right after, leaving everything behind — my job, my family, friends, my sense of purpose — to start from scratch.
Moving was hard, like any move, and (according to us) we did everything right. I had a work permit within nine months of my move, but despite the visa and a great resume in India, the reality was that finding a job was hard for me. Not because I lacked skills, but because I was a marketer and my experience wasn’t really relevant for an American consumer. I was consistently facing rejections. The back and forth of rejection and trying to fit in had started to take its toll on me. I started getting into a vicious cycle of self-doubt, fear of speaking and fear of rejection. My self-confidence took a major hit. It was hard not only for me but for my husband to see me lose motivation. That’s when we started looking for ideas to start a business of our own.
Luckily, it was during that time that we traveled to the West Coast and found a problem to work on, right when I needed something meaningful in my life. This gave birth to the idea for our company. Today we have over 500 locations across 40-plus cities in the U.S. We raised $1.85 million in a seed round last year and have recently launched an iOS app.
In mid-2016, my husband had moved to California for his job, but our business kept me in New York. For a year, our business did not take off; it was a very new concept. The pressure of not seeing the anticipated growth was taking a toll on my mental well-being. It was during this time that I learned some meditation techniques. My surrender to my inner journey opened me to everything I needed at the time and more. I am so grateful to have discovered that.
Looking inward has only enhanced my ability to run our business. It allowed me to identify blockages that I wasn’t even aware of. It gave me a glimpse of what resilience, focus, commitment, involvement, compassion, self-confidence, fearlessness and inclusiveness looks like, and I applied it to our business and work culture.
I want to share a few things I learned through my path to self-discovery.
Revive Your Inner Confidence
Confidence is the byproduct of authenticity. In the past, I was trying to fit in and be someone I aspired to be, rather than being a better version of myself.
Where I grew up, if you asserted yourself, you might be labeled as being arrogant. Now I understand that asserting myself and speaking with conviction builds confidence.
Take Responsibility For Your Own Peace And Inner Happiness
I realized that only I was responsible for my happiness, so I needed to stop blaming others for my stress. What I experience in my daily life is all within me. I started doing things that intrinsically made me happy, like pursuing my hobbies for a few hours a week.
Accept, Let Go And Move On
I finally started embracing my imperfections and what I did not know. When I acknowledged that no one out there was perfect and everyone’s on their own journeys, it was easier for me to let go of my ego and be more open to seeking more knowledge. I can learn from my team; it’s a collaboration on a daily basis.
I am guilty of identifying myself with the roles I play in my personal and professional life. Once I consciously started compartmentalizing those roles, I was able to identify so much more potential within myself.
I realized that fearlessness was nothing but letting go of my inhibitions and judgment of myself. The way I portray myself to the world is how the world will perceive me.
I started learning to let go and not get bogged down by people’s expectations of me. Rather, I looked inward to channel my energy toward becoming a better version of myself.
Take Care Of Yourself For Better Productivity
I understand that sometimes I need a break. Not taking breaks unnecessarily puts more pressure on my body and mind, which blocks my authenticity. Just taking a 15-20 minute break to breathe in and out or do a guided meditation can do wonders.
Practice Gratitude On A Daily Basis
Gratitude is powerful! I started practicing gratitude for family, friends, food, health, opportunities, people I am surrounded with and the abundance of love in my life.
Spend one minute being grateful for something in your day. Just one thing. Do it for two weeks and see the magic.
Looking inward in whatever situation you are in will help you recreate yourself and unlock your authenticity.
As leaders, it is our responsibility to help others overcome their fears and inhibitions so they can become better versions of themselves. And that, I believe, would lead to a collective evolution.