Everything is exactly as it needs to BE
MY CLIENTS having achieved so much - now find themselves feeling stuck
Through my one-to-one coaching, mentoring, training and insight, I partner with my clients to bring awareness of their deeper selves. For me, introspection is the first step towards self-actualisation – connecting with the desire to be the most that you can be and achieving the expression of your fullest potential.
Change has always been a constant for me in my life. My journey began with a migration. The youngest of three children, I was born in Nairobi, Kenya, to parents of Indian heritage. At a time when the world around me was changing at an alarming rate.
Political upheaval and discourse in Kenya meant that my parents, along with countless others, were forced to make life-changing decisions in an instant that would impact all of our futures.
Within two weeks, my parents had to wind up the life they had built over the past 14 years, gather what belongings they could carry and fly off to begin a new life in London, England. A country they had never even visited. We arrived at Gatwick airport on the morning of 15th May 1969. I was two years old.
I grew up in Tooting, South West London, in a loving home, and witnessed the sacrifices my parents made for our future. Those early years can’t have been easy for them. Both my parents had to work hard to make a solid start for us. Though they’ve only ever reminisced with romantic charm and a positive outlook. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to make a completely new start with such a young family. Reflecting on this now, I realise that their courage, conviction, partnership and belief has impacted my outlook on life, and become the foundation of what inspires and guides me to this day. As a child, I was never the extrovert. Shy, quiet, and unsure of myself. Often lost in my thoughts, dreams and fantasies. I remember making up amazing adventures for myself – cowboys, spacemen, deep-sea underwater explorers.
I loved creative pursuits. Drawing, painting, making stuff. It was what I enjoyed more than anything else. Maths and Sciences were always my nemeses. But pictures, drawing, creating things was something I was always attracted to and enjoyed immensely. It taught me how to imagine and visualise with great detail. Even today, I can imagine my world in pictures, colours and moving images. To be able to visualise solutions, ideas, concepts, and even feelings – both mine and others – is something that comes very natural to me.
I struggled through my school years. Never really attaining the best grades and dreading parent’s evenings! I failed my ‘O’ Levels (predecessors of the GCSE’s) and had to sit retakes. I did the same at ‘A’ Levels, and despite the discouragement of teachers and careers advisers not to pursue higher education (apparently I’d hit my ceiling!) I managed to secure a place at University.. This was where I found my academic stride and ultimately graduated with a good qualification and a group of friends for life.
My first job after graduating was at JPMorgan, where I worked and progressed my career for eight years. Then a stint at a Management Consultancy firm to broaden my experience. Learning new ways of thinking and approaches to problem-solving.
This role would take me and my family to live and work in Bangalore, India, for a year. By now, I was beginning to learn that connecting with people, building relationships and helping others to succeed brought me a greater sense of fulfilment than did my actual work.
But the lure of ‘material success’ still loomed, and so I continued on mindlessly. From one-stop to the next on an endless tour of what society views as success.
My career until now allowed me to travel internationally, meet and work with incredibly high calibre, talented people from around the world, many of whom are still close friends today. A career that had paid me well and offered me financial security.
However, There were many sacrifices along the way too. Early in our marriage, we were struggling to conceive. All we wanted was to start a family of our own. There were no known reasons why we couldn’t, all the ‘biomechanics’ were in good working order. But Mother Nature just wasn’t ready for us to become parents yet. And when she finally was, she blessed us with a wonderful daughter, who we named Karishma ( meaning miracle in Sanskrit). She was the gift we’d yearned for.
And then, straight from my paternity leave, I launched into my career in Management Consulting. This resulted in my working in Frankfurt, Germany for six months and being away from home Monday to Friday.
Returning exhausted at the weekends, before I set off again at 04.00 am on Monday morning. And then, almost immediately after this assignment, a further 6 months in Belgium on the same relentless cycle.
I hardly saw my young family, and when I did, I was too exhausted or stressed to enjoy the precious moments with them that I’d so longed for. All I had wanted was to become a father, and when I did, the weight of responsibility and duty I had meant that I felt compelled to put my work first.
All these extended periods away from home, long and stressful working days, missed anniversaries and birthdays. I remember feeling torn between my duty to my wife, my daughter, my family, my employer and my clients.
Through the eyes of the world, I was successful, but in my heart of hearts, I knew I was deeply unfulfilled. Something big was missing. Noticing and admitting this to myself was my first moment of truth. My first awakening. It was confusing, scary and liberating all at once.
Sundays had become sad-days. I would go to bed with a feeling of dread in the pit in my stomach knowing that I would be back on the commute in the morning to a job, and industry, that I had fallen out of love with. The auto-pilot in me was beginning to glitch. I knew that I had to take responsibility and follow my instinct, even though I wasn’t clear where exactly it would take me.
As always, with the love, support and encouragement of my wife by my side, I turned off the ‘auto-pilot’ and took the steering wheel-of-my-life back into my own hands.
And so, after an exciting, dynamic and rewarding 18-year career in The City, I resigned.
I started my own independent management consulting business. I wanted to take all of the professional experience I’d gathered to date and offer it to small/medium-size enterprises. I saw this as a perfect way to help businesses and also learn more about the real world of business myself.
I didn’t have a client, when a chance conversation between my wife and another mother at the school playground would ultimately take me on my next professional adventure. A husband and wife team who had started their own ladieswear fashion company had experienced rapid success and growth over many years. Taking it from ‘kitchen table’ to almost £30m turnover and multi-channel worldwide distribution. The speed of growth had meant that many parts of the business had been neglected and were now beginning to impact their ability to progress and grow further. I was offered a six-month consulting engagement to help them to ‘professionalise’ their business.
These initial six months would end up being four years as their interim Chief Operating Officer, working on a complete turn-around strategy, and then a further two years on the Board as their Commercial Director.
This world could not have been further away from my professional life until then.
I was loving the challenge and all of the learning that this next stage of life was presenting to me. I was also beginning to see the world through a very different lens. One that had taken me from monochrome to a world full of technicolour and texture.
I was operating in the “real” economy. The world of front-line business. A world where every decision had a tangible and direct impact. I was learning and growing exponentially.
At the same time, I was becoming open to new ideas, ways of thinking and ways of operating that resulted in exploring opportunities that I know I wouldn’t have even considered had I stayed in my old career.
One such opportunity was chancing upon a property franchise that my wife and I would eventually join, and through which we were able to start to build and operate a small portfolio of rental properties. Finally offering us some stability and future security.
Every day brought a new hurdle and a new challenge from which to extend and grow, but all this was also starting to take its toll on my mental and physical state.
I’d left an environment where I felt supported, protected, safe even. Now, I was in an environment where I was expected to shoulder the bulk of this responsibility alone. Don’t get me wrong, I had support, and certainly didn’t work alone. Still, I felt this burden of responsibility weighing on my shoulders to continually fix and solve complex, volatile, uncertain and fast-paced issues and problems in an almost constant state of flux.
I finally hit an absorption point, from where I was almost unable to make the simplest of decisions. My brain was full, and my body was tired. I was operating at maximum capacity. I simply could not process information. It was like staring into a pot of water that had answers scribed at the bottom of the pan, but the water was boiling so vigorously it was impossible to even see to the bottom. Every now and again, I’d get a glimpse of something, and then it would disappear under the relentless froth.
I finally reached a stage when I knew something had to change.
One afternoon, after leaving a tense meeting in the West End of London, I went for a walk to try and clear my head. Whilst wandering aimlessly, I noticed a book on a distant shelf in a store. It had a white cover with a bright orange circle and the word ‘Headspace’ written in bold text. It was as if it was offering me exactly what I was missing – space in my head. I instinctively bought a copy and read it immediately.
This was the start of my journey into mindfulness and meditation. The book was “ Get some Headspace” by former Buddhist monk turned entrepreneur, Andy Puddicombe. When I discovered the book, they had just launched a meditation app of the same name. And so I began my first steps into mindfulness, and it shifted me almost immediately. Slowly the pot of boiling water began to simmer. And from a simmer, it became cooler, and over time stillness followed. My mind settled. My inner critic became quieter. I began to notice presence, and from that space, I was able to begin to find myself again.
Only this time, it was like I was returning home. Back to a self that I’d forgotten about many years before. Now, some ten years later, I still practice meditation as often as I can. I now also guide my clients through practices in mindfulness, breathwork and meditation. I’ve even attended and delivered practices at retreats in Costa Rica (somewhere I’d never even considered visiting) and from this, I have met the most extraordinary people and made incredibly deep friendships. All this from an impulse buy of a book that just showed up when I needed it. It’s been truly transformative for me.
Six years after joining the company, we had restructured the business and implemented significant transformation. Then the owners decided to take the business in another direction from the one we had begun with, and it was time for me to exit. We came to a mutual agreement, and I left the company. Again I found myself back at the only constant – change. So now what? What next?
All of my experiences so far were imbuing me with a sense of clarity and a connection with who I was, what I stood for and what I wanted. And for the first time, I was starting to believe how it was possible to become the ‘master of your own destiny’. It was revealing to me that I had resources and capabilities that were at my disposal, but what it wasn’t telling me was where and how should I express these next.
That’s why I found myself a Coach. I knew that I needed someone to help me unravel my thoughts and take me deeper into an exploration of myself. Something that would awaken me even more so that I was beginning to live my life more consciously.
It was through working with this coach that I came to realise that people, mentoring, coaching and supporting others-to-succeed was the constant that had weaved itself throughout my life. All my experiences and ability to connect effortlessly with others were for a purpose. The things that came easiest to me were my ‘natural gifts’.
Upon this realisation, coupled with the understanding that with my background and experiences, there was both a need and an opportunity. Now, just before I turned 50, I began to explore the possibilities for retraining.
And this eventually brought to me the CTI Coach’s Training programme. Instinctively I knew from my very first conversation, it was the one for me. It was exactly the deep transformational type of coaching I wanted to offer to my clients. I signed up, spent a year qualifying to become a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, and began another transformative path.
The coaching training turned out to be one of the most profound experiences of my life.
Shifting my entire way of being. From living life ‘outside-in’ (seeking external happiness and validation), to living more ‘inside-out’ (from a deeper, internal knowing and acceptance of myself). It was an awakening to a powerful way of connecting mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually to myself and everything I experience from moment to moment. It felt like I was finally becoming Whole again.
Another reinvention now awaited me. This time, as a professional coach and mentor, working to help guide my clients to discover choice, clarity and connection that they too may find their unique gifts and place on this planet for the short time that we’re all here.
My object is a 100 Rupee note that was given to me as a blessing from my Great Uncle in India.
I first met him when I was nine years old. Mum and I had flown at short notice to India upon hearing news that my paternal grandfather was critically ill and had a final wish to meet me before he passed.
Sadly, my grandfather passed away in my presence a day or so after our arrival. Whilst I got to meet and be with him for a short time, we never had the opportunity to come to know one another.
It was during this trip that I formed a close bond with my grand-uncle, my grandfather’s younger brother, who happened to live next door to my grandfather and his family.
My great uncle was a very proud man. He lost his wife to illness at a young age and was left to raise his children single-handedly. I’ll never forget visiting his very humble home to have dinner with him (that he’d cooked himself over a traditional open fire) almost every day, rather than eat at my grandfather’s house. He became like a grandfather to me. And a bond was formed that was deep and connected.
The next time I would see him was almost 20 years later when I went back to India to introduce the family to my newly married wife. By this time he had grown old and frail, but still glowed with energy and joy.
He was now profoundly deaf, had very poor eyesight, and was living in the same position as he had been when I’d first met him at the age of 9. He was also still fiercely independent just as he’d always been. He was fending for himself. Independent. Proud. Happy. Values that resonate deeply with me, and ones I also aspire to in my life.
Because of his profound deafness, he had taken to communicating using a small black wooden chalkboard and a piece of chalk.
My father would write a question in Gujarati, and he’d answer. During this exchange, I noticed that the chalk he was using to write with had been whittled down to the size of a small pea with angular edges and sides.
Seeing this I was so deeply moved. Touched by the very simplicity of his life, and the value he placed on something that was his only means of communication.
I took it upon myself and went on a mission in search of a new box of chalks for him. I eventually found them and returned to present them to him. He laughed so joyfully and said that there was no need for me to do this. He had more than enough with the small chalk that he had; he didn’t want for anymore.
I was profoundly moved by this and broke down in tears. Even now, as I recall this story, the tears are welling up in my eyes. Despite everything that life had thrown at him, he was content with everything that he had in that moment.
When the time came for us to leave, I bowed to his feet in the traditional mark of respect afforded to elders, knowing in my heart that I would never see him again. He blessed me and then pressed this 100rupee note into my hand.
I’ve been carrying this same note in my wallet ever since. It’s a constant reminder of my Great Uncle. Of his wisdom, his independence, his strength, humility, self-belief, faith, contentment and love.
I’ve come to learn that it’s all too easy to sleepwalk your way through life. Feeling like you have no choice. Lacking in the clarity you need to explore more, and having lost that meaningful connection to yourself and your life. But it’s an enriching and rewarding gift when you experience life fully awake and through all of your senses.
Learn to reconnect with your head, heart and body. Understand and trust in their guidance. Sometimes you have to let go of logic, and trust in your intuition, your gut, your instinct. It may not always make sense, and there might be no obvious pathway to travel, but be brave enough to explore and see what’s waiting to be found.
For myself, I try to live moment by moment in the knowledge that “Everything is exactly as it needs to be..” and that I have to have faith in that.
Switch off that auto-pilot. Re-connect. Wake up to what’s out there waiting for you to find.
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