From the very early stages of my engineering career I knew I wanted to be a leader, for so many years I noted my long term goal as 'take on a role leading the water/wastewater team'.
I diligently worked towards this goal and was supported every step of the way. My superiors identified me as a future leader of the business so as a result I was given lots of opportunity for growth through great project assignments and training in management and leadership.
In early 2013 an opportunity to undertake a temporary leadership role arose. I was thrilled to be considered for the position that would see me relocated back to the city for 3 months. I did however have some concerns around the travel and my ability to do a good job while feeling so worn down. I was exhausted, I'd worked myself into the ground delivering a construction project and was planning on stepping back for a while to recharge the batteries.....but how could I pass up such and opportunity? It was a done deal, I'd be crazy to pass it up, I'd have my first taste of my dream role several years earlier than I'd planned, this would set me up for my future.
Only when I got a taste of the role, and it was literally just a taste because I fell into an even more intense leadership type experience within the business I quickly came to realise that I actually didn't want that leadership role within a corporate business.
Where did that leave me?? Lost and confused.
I had no idea where I wanted to go career wise so I started doing some soul searching. It really commenced in April 2013 when I spent some time in Bali immersing myself in yoga trying to figure it all out. The answers didn't arrive overnight I spent around 12 months actively seeking more clarity around what I really enjoy doing, what my core values are and what type of work would result in me living a life with purpose where I'm excited to get out of bed each day. My exploration included travel, yoga, vipassana meditation, life coaching, transformational breathing, journalling, surfing (reconnecting with my love of the ocean) various workshops and even some courses to explore my passions further.
On the 5th of July 2013 a seed was planted, I wrote an email to my parents that I never sent (I've been keeping it as a draft and I'm not sure why). It starts out:
"So I'm supposed to be getting back into my engineering work but all I can think about is yoga and a fitness studio in Gippsland!!"
I even went as far as giving the new studio a name, it was to be 'Yin Yang Fitness Studio' incorporating the intensity of fitness and the mindfulness of yoga.
I continued working in my engineering job as these new seeds were being planted, slowly I began taking action to explore the possibility of a career in health and fitness.
I'd let go of my engineering team leader dream that I was once very passionate about and started to replace it with my dream to teach yoga. The yoga teacher training was then booked in and I decided to take some time out to travel.
During the Vipassana Meditation in late December 2013 the concept for waSUP Yoga & Fitness was born. Perhaps with all my senses withdrawn I was merging all of the things that I love together into one entity (yoga, fitness and the water). It only became a reality in March 2014 when our small engineering office in Bairnsdale closed and I was offered a redundancy or relocation - another seed that I'd planted before I'd left Australia.
I never really thought of my aspirations with waSUP Yoga & Fitness as having anything to do with leadership, I was ready to let go of the whole idea even though it seemed to be the direction I've been moving towards for many years.
Which brings me to the present day......
Just last week I went to a workshop at Radiantly Alive in Ubud titled 'Discover your Dharma'. Dharma is a term used to describe your purpose in life, why we are here. I was initially hesitant to go, what if they told me something I didn't want to hear? I'm too far down the path with waSUP Yoga & Fitness to turn back now.... I don't need any seeds of doubt.... I couldn't wait for the workshop I needed to understand this dharma thing straight away, so I did some internet research. I knew that our dharma was to be established from something called 'Mayan Dreamspell'. I found a website entered in my date of birth and the result was somewhat astonishing. From the 260 possibilities (which are distinctly different) I was categorised as a 'Yellow Crystal Human'. The description was a follows:
I dedicate in order to influence
I seal the process of free will
with the crystal tone of cooperation.
I am guided by the power of flowering.
Phew, a sigh of relief - not only was this an answer that I was happy with I could see lots of truth in it. Free will and co-operation are two things that I highly value and influence is inherent in leadership, a direction that I'd been travelling in for a while. I'd satisfied myself that it was safe to go to the workshop. I was now super excited to be attending, I wanted to know more.
It's now crystal clear to me (no pun intended). I didn't stray as far from my path as I though I had, all of my experiences in the corporate world were intended to bring me closer to a more meaningful leadership role within the community.
As Simon Sinek so greatly presents in he's TED talk 'How great leaders inspire action' we cannot inspire unless we believe. It was time for me to step out of the corporate world, I'd lost faith in how things were being done and how that world operates, I had reached the point where I could no longer be effective in what I was doing, I simply didn't believe in it.
While waSUP Yoga & Fitness is an entirely different domain that I never really put in the basket of leadership I now see that it's exactly what I was put here to do, it's very much in line with my dharma. I truly believe in yoga and all the beautiful gifts that it has to offer, I also believe that spending time in the outdoors has a significant positive influence on how we feel.
My yoga practice has on many occasions shown me the way back to my true myself and has brought things to my attention that I otherwise would never have seen - it's quite honestly transformed my life in a very positive way. So many of my fondest memories are linked to the water and the outdoor environment, I can't help but feel great when I'm outside (except when it's icy cold and I've just fallen in the water - then the appreciation comes later when I can see the humour in the situation). I believe that sharing this with others is one of the greatest gifts that I can offer.
I'm no longer attached to the idea of sitting up nice and high on the corporate ladder, it's just not me. I'd just as happily take on the title of beach bum / yoga teacher / paddler and traveller.
At the end of the day 'leadership' is only a word and while it's part of my dharma, I'm not getting caught up with that either, I'm just going to get out there and do my thing. Some people will get it, relate to what I'm putting out there and in turn may be inspired, others won't and that's perfectly okay. At least now I move forward with purpose doing something that I truly love...and how do I know for sure that I love it?? Well sometimes while out on the water I accidentally take photo's of myself and on more than one occasion I've caught a shot of my beaming ear to ear. I don't recall a time when I felt this type of joy sitting in front of my computer desk.
That's not to say that this will be the case forever, just like my time in the corporate engineering world if I ever get to a point where I no longer believe in what I'm doing I will simply walk away and find something else that I can be passionate about. After all....
" Life is too short to be anything but happy. So kiss slowly. Love deeply, Forgive quickly. Take chances and never have regrets. Forget the past but remember what it taught you".
~ Abhishek Shukla
Mandy Habener (Dumas)