During the past year since launching om exchangeat the 2013 London Om Yoga Show, some of the biggest challenges for me have been around confidence, believing in myself,and trusting my judgement.I don't want to speak for all women when I say this but I started to feel like women in particular have a hard time feeling empowered when up against challenges which are typically thought of as types of things men can do and conquer. For example:
finding a role in a start-up business
being an entrepreneur
being in the technology sector
Over the past 5 years, the possibilities for careers in these areas have soared in London! (have you heard of the 'silicon' roundabout?)For me, coming from a long-term corporate career as a Chartered Accountant (despite being dissatisfied) it felt like the Wild West!Being behind a desk in a large corporate office with a fancy job title provided me with a false sense of purpose or reason to feel I had value in the world. In the beginning, I was not yet conscious of the emotional impact it would have on me when I decided to pull the rug out from under my own feet and leave my secure job to launch a yoga community website (& with zero understanding of technology!)I was left standing there, feeling a little naked, like I was shivering in the cold on an abandoned ship.As I went to more events about how to start-up companies, access funding, and get your message heard, I started to realise that all my years of experience, various degrees and corporate-world background left me totally unequipped for the 'new world' I was entering.I felt like a kid in kindergarten who forgot my lunchbox on the first day of school. And all the colouring books had blank pages with no lines!On this journey so far, I've learned that in order to make your little start-up dream a reality, you need to have the confidence to speak up, pick yourself up, believe in yourself wholeheartedly & trust your own inner voice despite all the noise around you (& negative voices in your head!)
Does The Conventional Way of "Doing Business" Feel Natural to You?
When I thought more about gender and the many talented women I'd met and the amazing & smart women friends around me, I could see that it can feel unnerving to be in an unknown space where sometimes it feels like you need to be louder & 'fake' confidence to get others to believe in your ideas.As we've all heard and read in books such as Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, women aren't necessarily 'built from the same stuff' as men. And we may not want to 'fight dirty', or speak louder or push harder to get what we want.But that doesn't mean we aren't just as passionate or as smart or driven or capable.So I thought more about who and when do I feel most empowered and at ease with myself...
When Do I Feel Most Empowered?
And it dawned on me that it was a good thing I decided to build a yoga community because yoga is exactly what has led me to feel empowered enough to share my dreams, ideas & visions with the world! I was literally facing my fears & developing a sense of self and value one sun salutation at a time!Yoga can help women build up successful businesses while continuing to be themselves.Yoga gave me the courage to look inside myself and step out of my own way, in order to pursue something I believed in. And it has done this for many women (and men!) all around the world.When you approach a project or business from a yogic state of being, I believe you don't have to be the loudest or slickest person in the room. You can be whomever you are naturally and be successful. I will leave the topic of understanding what "success" really is, for another blog...So I've decided to get out there & meet more women who've pursued an entrepreneurial path, perhaps against major odds, and hear their stories. This Friday Oct 17th I will volunteering at the upcoming Empowering Women Summit in London.The line-up of women (& men) is impressive and I can't wait to hear all of them speak. I am also excited (and totally freaked out!) to have a brief chance to share a few words about om exchange and why I believe yoga can empower women. So how do yoga and empowerment fit together?
5 Ways Yoga Empowers You:
1. Yoga teaches you to turn inward and listen to your own instincts and your inner teacher2. Yoga makes you feel whole & complete, just as you are - what an empowering thought to believe you don't need to do, be or have anything more to be valued.3. Yoga removes the noise and chaos. It stills your mind and gives you focus and clarity4. Yoga gives you a safe space to test your limits, while taking care of and being true to yourself5. Yoga enables you to practice non-judgement and challenges you to not compare to those around you. But to do what makes the most sense for you in the moment.And those are all qualities which I think can help anyone on their path to living a more empowered life!