Live, love and be happy is the mantra that Sheila Ram Mohan gave me when i asked her advice on going through life.
Before the interview, when she told me that she was a life coach and an author, i was already looking forward to the interview. I had not met or even talked to a life coach before and thus it was even more exciting.
As usual, I left home 10 minutes before and reached my 'interview spot' 5 minutes before the starting time of interview. I had prepared a dozen questions and written them on my waiter's pad(yeah! That's where i write). I decided to take a final look at questions to make a map in my mind and use it to direct the interview but oh wait, i left my pad at home. I got nervous but found solace in the fact that I was going to interview a life coach. I decided to take control and make up questions as proceed and i remembered most of the questions but the most difficult part would be to remember the answers. The interview started on time and i was blown away by her calmness and clearity.
My first question was, 'Why do people have trouble sticking to their goals and what role does a life coach play'?
She replied by saying that people are afraid of winning. They don't know what will happen and how things could change. This fear cripples them and they have trouble sticking to their goals and in some cases, taking the first step. A life coach helps people in achieving their goals and thus making their life better.
Then, I asked her how she pivoted from being a graduate in Microbiology to become a life coach.
She replied, Well, I didn’t fall in to coaching from day 1. Like most people I travelled and worked at a lot of jobs/careers, all of which I loved while I was doing it.With a background of microbiology and armed with a diploma in medical lab technology, I was all set to set up my own state of the art diagnostic lab, when I was offered the post of a Medical representative, one of the first batch of women who were inducted in to this predominantly male bastion. I loved it, because it helped me combine my love of science with my communication skills until I decided to get in to advertising. I did a diploma in Advertising and Public Relations and thus started the longest stint of my career. I got in to the mad, exciting world of advertising , starting with Clarion (before it became Bates Clarion), moving on to Enterprise & Mohammed Khan and then with Overture Communications.
In between, the entrepreneurial bug would bite me.(My father used to call me a “serial entrepreneur”!). I decided to chuck my advertising career and got in to creating a brand called Preteens, which was stylish garments for kids up to 12 years. With a factory housing 2 designers, one master cutter and 12 machines, and an investment of a meagre 2 lakhs and eyes full of dreams to see kids in smart Preteens wear, I started. The money ran out in a week, the business lasted 4 years! I learnt the hard way that garment business needs deep pockets. I also learnt that in any business you HAVE to pay yourself too.
My love affair with garments was not yet over, hence when I was offered the chance to set up a huge retail outlet catering to women who wear designer garments, I rushed in. Partnering with my friend, and now husband, Ram Mohan, we set up EERSHA in Hyderabad. It was the first of its kind in Hyderabad, bringing current styles to the city, as opposed to getting off-season stuff. It was a huge success, bringing us in to the media glare and giving us chance to have creative branding strategies that I believe were the first of its kind then! We shut down EERSHA after the birth of our daughter when we realised that a store, and especially a personalised store such as ours, requires our presence, from morning to night and thus, was not conducive to parenting.
That’s when I started looking for home-based businesses, from MLM to an ad agency at home I tried it all. I was lucky I got the clients, employers and jobs that would allow me to work on a flexi-time basis. Around this time is also when I started to question a lot of things in my life and all the turmoil and unrest put me in contact with Louise hay’s “You can heal your life’ . As they say.”when the student is ready the teacher appears. One thing led to another and I embarked on a journey of exploration of alternative science, nueroscience, brain wave therapy. What led me to each of them I cannot say, but as I got in deeper in to healing modalities, I found I drew to me a lot of people who needed help with various issues in their life. I was a weekend healer! My regular day job continued, while I counselled and helped people, often for free, during weekends.
And that’s when I finally discovered my purpose and passion. I realised that my biggest highs were when I help people and see a positive change in their life. And that’s how Life Coaching happened. Instead of counselling people, I wanted to be able to help them move forward. I wanted to tell the young in the world that which I discovered so late in my life: that we live in a world of infinite possibilities, limited only by our mind and our conditioning; that all that it takes to change our life is us; that if you learn that early in life, you can enjoy an abundant life longer! Life Coaching is where I finally felt I was home.
Then, I aksed her how she pivoted from being a graduate in Microbiology to beome a life coach and what inspired her to write her book'I complete me'.
She replied, I always loved Science. Science was one of my favourite topics in School & English of course, so I chose to graduate in Microbiology and then continued to go deeper by doing Medical Lab Technology.
Before you ask me, there’s a reason for this preamble! I spent close to 7 years, 8-10 hours a day, that is around 21,000 hours, with my nose buried in big fat textbooks and eyes glued in to a microscope, peering in to whatever specimen was put on the slide - studying it, combining it,making notes, watching patterns, fitting pieces together and then writing out a fully-researched notes.
And like one of my mentors say, the way you do anything is the way you do everything!
So, outside my favourite science lab and my college reading room ( yeah yeah I was a nerd like that), I took my habit to observe, slice and catalogue to every area of my life, esp in conversations. I realised that I had this miraculous ability to remember exactly what people say, when they say and how they say it and about who they say it and as they talk, my mind is taking notes. I hear what they say, I hear what they don’t say, I hear how they say and I hear how they don’t say, I hear hidden nuances, subtexts and my mind goes : Huh!
And as I wandered through careers and cities, one fascination remained: Figuring out what makes people tick and what makes me tick. I realised we were very similar to those things I saw on the slide of the microscope.
See, let’s take a drop of water. For all outer appearances it looks like a innocent drop of water, but look at it inside the microscope and there is a sea of activity inside and our minds are exactly the same. Even when we are calm on the outside, it like a bzzz bzzz of bees inside. And I went like: here seems more to this fella here and there seems to be a connection to what I think, I feel and how I behave and what happens in my life.
That’s when one of those transformational moments happened in my life, where I was introduced to an amazing concept of “ Life is a mirror” and what you see outside is only a reflection of what you are thinking & feeling inside. Bingo!!
So I started learning in depth about this concept, about the how the unconscious mind controls and how beliefs are formed and I was even more fascinated. Suddenly I could see myself and others in a new light.
Regarding the book, she said, 'we have never been taught how to do self-care, how to put oneself first, how to set boundaries, how to speak up and when to speak out, how to ask for what we want, how to have uncomfortable conversations, all of which is self love and that’s what this book is all about.
We have never been taught about self-love and most of us confuse it with selfishness, which it is not. We also dismiss self love as something for those soft in the head. Once I gave an assignement to a client in which I told her to write a love letter to yourself everyday for a week and I remember the shock and panic on her face and she said, “ No I can’t do that…if you want I will write the love letter to you!”. What a sweet offer! I was tempted to take it up, too! But the point is we are so uncomfortable with the concept of talking lovingly and glowingly about ourselves. Do we criticise ourselves? yes! Judge ourselves? of course yes!
Remember what they tell you in flights, first put the oxygen mask on yourself and then on others. If you are constantly waiting for someone to love you before you feel lovable, chances are you will be waiting forever.
Truth be told, I learnt it the hard way and I don’t want it to be like that for everyone. I hope this book will be a direction, and when you wake up one morning with the question what am I doing with my life, and why am I so unhappy, I want this book to be an answer.'
I was impressed by her thinking. She has lived a rather unusual and extraordinary life. Then, i asked her What is the meaning of life and why are we here on this planet.
She said that she believes that life is like a university. We learn our lessons and we move on. When we have learned our lessons, we move on(die).
Then I asked her if she believed in life after death.
She said, oh yes! I believe in reincarnation.
I learned some very important lessons from sheila and since the time our worlds overlapped for a brief moment on the universal clock, I have become a better person. I recommend that you read her book 'I Complete Me' and follow her work on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I wish Sheila luck on her journey ahead and hope that this post reminds her what a bold and amazing woman she is.
Jerome Kagan (born February 25, 1929) is an American psychologist, and Daniel and Amy Starch Research Professor of Psychology, Emeritus at Harvard University, and co-faculty at the New England Complex Systems Institute. He is one of the key pioneers of developmental psychology.
Kagan was listed as the 22nd most eminent psychologist of the 20th century.
I had a conversation with him recently where I asked him about the purpose of life. Here's what he said:
"Each of us has to invent a few goals that we value, knowing that we invented them, we commit to them. The pleasure is in pursuing them."
Then, I asked him, "How do we live a meaningful life when we know we are going to die"?
He replied, "Of course we will die. But we are here. So the only choice is to become involved in some activities that we enjoy and do not harm others.
These goals can range from taking care of children to running business.
My last question was, "Is it better for an introvert to remain
an introvert or to push himself to become an extrovert"?
He replied, "Do not try to be an extrovert. Each of us has to accept what we are and exploit its advantages. I prefer to be alone and, so I read a lot and find it pleasurable".
I thank Mr Kagan for his time and sharing his thoughts with me.
Nico is one of my favourite people. She has a unique ability of changing hard problems into simple and understandable ones. She is a marketing expert and an amazing writer. She had to end her 16 year old marketing career in April 2016 due to health issues and start all over again. Her inner child brought to writing- something she loved since early childhood. She recently published her first novel 'Magnetic Reverie' and is currently working on it's sequel. Her novel is getting good response and people are loving it all over the world. It's a romantic novel that 'I Dread to read to my mom', she laughs. I was curious to know her opinion on the meaning of life. I asked her and she obliged. Here's her answer: