925. Deciding Not to Settle for Second Best
“There are so many ways to explore different aspects of yourself while you’re still gainfully employed and providing for your family or yourself. I think a part of that is just the discipline and the commitment that you aren’t going to settle anymore. That you’re not going to settle for second best.”
Deepa Natarajan, founder of Meet My Potential, is a leader in the field of personal and professional change. She has a wealth of knowledge about leadership and brings humanity to the center of the workplace in organizations. She communicates with her soul, putting your mind, heart and gut at peace. She is Indian and today lives in Toulouse in southern France and brings with her a mix of eastern and western philosophy.
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“At 32, I found a job in France to work for a company that was merging with an Indian company. What happened was difficult. I was hired for my skills and I came here thinking that I’m going to work for a very international company. I didn’t speak French. I just spoke English. I had a kind of loss of identity, feeling lost both personally and professionally. Professionally, I had challenges in terms of diversity. I felt I was not included in the very important meetings, even though I was doing a lot of the work. I saw that the work that I was doing was finally taken by somebody else to the client. One, because of my color and two, because I’m a woman. And so, these diversity issues really got me frustrated. And that’s when I started to question why am I doing the work that I’m doing. I started searching the internet for help and I saw a post by a woman for a program that looked interesting. She was actually a coach. I checked the company that trained her, and decided to try this coaching program. And so in 2011, at the age of 35, I got into coaching. And that’s it. From then on it has been no turning back.”
The Most Powerful Lessons and Experiences?
1. “I was a typical middle class, Indian girl, and so formed by societal norms that when you’re in that middle class and the revolution is happening, it’s a no brainer that you finish your education. You go for an engineering degree and you get into a software company and you earn good money and you have a good family and you’re comfortable. And that was the traditional path that I followed. You could be an engineer, a doctor, or a lawyer to get out of the lower middle class income and status level. So, the only option was one of these three.”
2. “I started looking at engineering colleges and got into one. I liked it because everything was logical and I enjoyed it. I actually wanted to pursue a career in that direction. I did have a summer job once where I was working with a very famous Indian actress during a fashion show. I enjoyed that. It was more about communicating between people, and I liked talking and working with people. It got me out of my mode of programming and being a software engineer. I really liked it, but it never went further because at that point of time, I was so biased that this wasn’t good for me in the long term, I just wouldn’t even look in this direction.”
3. “After a couple jobs where I quickly rose from software engineer to a management position to a team leader to a project manager to a program manager, I actually got a divorce. There was a moment when I suddenly thought ‘Wow, something is not working in the place where I am working, in the life that I’m leading.’ And that divorce actually made me want to move out of my country. I applied for jobs in the U.S., the U.K. and in France. And, that is when I landed the job in France and moved here.”
4. “I was still working for the French company when I began training to become a coach. in the last learning module, they asked us, what’s your commitment? And I stood up there and I made a commitment to quit my job and to start my own coaching business. I remember that gush of feelings, like you’re jumping off a cliff. Sometimes it felt like there’s no safety net out there. But the beauty of jumping off that cliff by quitting my job and walking into the unknown was that it was the best gift that I could ever give myself–because that’s when you realize that when you fall off, you can actually take flight again.”
5. “I was extremely optimistic because I quit my job with only one client. So it was a very tough next one and half years. And then I realized I need to listen to the market. I need to listen to what people need and not just go and push what I would like to give them. And that’s when the magic happened. And that’s when I started to build packages and programs, and what people needed from my skills of coaching. And that’s when the uplift started to happen.”
6. “You can prepare, prepare, prepare as much as you can, but when you go out there and you sit with your client, the most important thing is really listen to them and come from the bottom of your heart to serve them. Because when you come from that place of listening to other people and come from this place of serving, then you always make things happen.”
Connecting With Deepa Natarajan
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