Open to all possibilities: How I started my journey

I left my full time job at the end of 2014. I was actually made redundant and I saw it as an opportunity, as the biggest gift that had landed in my lap in a long time.

That whole year had already turned my world upside down. After a very painful and difficult break up with my long term partner, the person who I have grown beside as an adult in London, I started 2014 with sadness but a determination to rise from the ashes. I started focusing more and more on myself and my own wellbeing, almost driven by a survival instinct. Yoga, meditation and healthy eating were part of it. But, above all, I felt fortunate to be surrounded by great friends and a supportive work environment.  I was deeply grateful for it. 

The following 9 months went by fast, with me building my strength to get ready for another big shift. Little did I know, at the beginning of that year, how different my life would be by the end of it. Little did I plan for it, too. But I was, somehow, open to all possibilities.

An attitude has accompanied ever since. 

 

Open to all possibilities

At the end of March in 2014, I went to India. Yes, it is kind of a cliché. Broken heart girl travels to India and goes to yoga retreat. I knew it. I didn’t care. It was in one of those yoga classes when the teacher mentioned this concept of being open to all possibilities, both physically (as in being open to trying out new posses and to seeing what happens) but also psychologically. It was almost like removing that cloud of doubt that always traveled with me. 

Fast forward to September and I was sitting with a life coach exploring all the possibilities I had in front of me after accepting my redundancy. She used the wheel of life and other methods to help me visualise what I would be happy doing, not just what I was good at, and whether all my passion areas needed to be covered by my job (i.e. earning me cash) or could instead become hobbies I practice in my spare time. We quickly discovered that areas like training and coaching fitted me quite well and we built a plan on how to achieve them. I started meeting people for coffees for a full month, building my connections and by November I had my first training gig. Although, it felt too large of a challenge at the time and I would have liked started with something much smaller and manageable, I took it and never looked back. 

I have to confess… that first gig wasn’t great. But it got me started. I was now an independent trainer and consultant and I was starting to get referred to clients for more and more projects. 

I also have to tell you that the beginnings weren’t easy. The first three months were very hard and there wasn’t a single week when I didn’t consider applying for a full time job. The money wasn’t coming in every month, like it used to. My redundancy money was getting smaller every month and I was mainly working from home on my own. Regardless, I kept meeting more and more people for coffee, being open to all possibilities and ‘planting the seeds’ for a brighter future. 

The downside of welcoming everyone in 

For a long time, being open to all possibilities also meant saying yes to almost everything that came my way. I later realised those decisions I was making were more out of fear rather than confidence. Fear of not earning enough, not doing enough, closing those doors… 

Whilst for a long time I tried to say no and eventually did, it was only last year that I started to understand the importance of having a clear business mission (or even personal, if you are on your own) to act as a filter to all your decisions. Decisions like what projects to take in, what type of clients you want to work with, how much to charge, when to negotiate, how many hours you work a day, etc. And, believe me, I knew the theory. But to deeply engrain it into your soul and follow it to the letter, in every single business interaction you have, it is not easy. 

To do less 

Only after 3 years I now have the strength to start sharing my journey. Both as an exercise of self discovery and a way to perhaps help others that are starting their own journey as freelancers, independent consultants or entrepreneurs. 

Since I started, I have noticed that this whole world of entrepreneurs, start-ups and succesful business people is shy of vulnerability. Partly accentuated by social media, where I see company founders bragging about working long hours, about never stopping, about always being on and strong, always winning. I barely see anyone sharing any failures, any mistakes, any downtime. Not many want to say they only work 6 hours a day or pledge publicly to do it. 

I started this year with one unique resolution: to do less. I found it hard to share it on social media but when I finally did it made me commit to it. 

After a full month of practicing, I somehow feel I am achieving more. So my second resolution is to share a little bit about my journey with people like you. Once a month. That’s enough. 

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I have created a very simple fun sheet to help others review their past year and set ambitious and achievable goals for 2018. It’s free and you can request it by signing up to my newsletter below. 

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Are blockchain and buddhism the cornerstones of a sustainable business?

buddha-statue

You may have heard about blockchain and the potential impact that will have in the finance industry. Banks are trying to understand it and apply to their old structures. Whether they succeed or not will depend not only on throwing money into the problem (i.e. in the form of talent) but their ability to adapt quickly.

If you haven’t heard about it much, the most famous example you have is Bitcoin as one of the cryptocurrencies available in the market right now. Yes, there are more than one. For a quick overview, I recommend you watch Netflix documentary Banking on Bitcoin

Blockchain is about much more than currencies and finance. It’s the most exciting technological advance since the Internet. What I like is that it is based on the same principles around openness and decentralisation. 

But I’m not here to talk about how blockchain works or its potential. I am not claiming to be an expert, just curious. I’m here to share a recent discovery about how this technology is being applied by buddhist monks and temples. Yes, you heard that right. 

This morning I came across Lotos Network, a buddhist community harnessing blockchain to make sure funds are being used properly in temples. It is a way for them to fight corruption, which affects religious institutions more than you would think. This new system is allowing them to restore the trust in their institutions. 

As the site explains, this transparent and decentralised system is bringing to live Buddha’s vision of a new society with student-teacher communities and an egalitarian government. They offer an alternative to corporate capitalism, applying mindfulness to governance and providing anonymity for those who are being persecuted due to their beliefs. Lotos Network also provides digital infrastructure to teachers, without the need to have a physical temple to spread their knowledge. Students use an Ethereum-based blockchain ‘currency’ to pay their teachers or contribute to temples. These logs are visible to the public, which results in the most honest institutions being rewarded with trust from people. 

What if we were to apply the same principles to any for-profit organisation? A business built on the principles of mindfulness and decentralised power. These are the ideas I’d like for the sustainable business of the future. 

I can’t wait to see more and more examples like this pop up into our lives. My hopes are for blockchain to bring back honesty, transparency and trust into how we relate to organisations of any type. There is already a thirst from people to push corporations to be more ethical and to pay more attention to how they operate internally. Now it’s up to businesses to do the right thing.

As with all superpowers, how you use them defines who you are.