Episode 11

Living Life by Design with Myah Payel Mitra

Published on: 9th June, 2021

Myah Payel Mitra is an award-winning Holistic Life & Career Coach. She is recognized as one of the Top 5 Women Entrepreneurs working on mental health, leadership and well-being. As a Stanford-trained Positive Intelligence Coach and certified Movement Therapy Practitioner, Myah works with CXOs, senior leaders and high-performing teams across the globe. She is also the Founder President of Lean In Sustainability – a global community focused on climate change and gender. Myah's mission is to build a world that is conscious, sustainable and inclusive.

In this interview, Myah talks about how she lives her life by design and experimentation, defining her purpose and leading by example. She talks a lot about fear, including how the fear of dreaming big can paralyse you, why the fear of failure kills more dreams than failure itself and why you should have a conversation and make allies with your fear.

The two books that Myah mentioned are Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware and Do It Scared by Ruth Soukup.

Myah can be contacted via LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/ConsciousCoachMyah/

---

Music: Pablito's Way by Paolo Pavan

Transcript
Helen:

Hello, Myah, and thank you very much for taking the time to speak to us about some of the audacious work that you've done. We mentioned to you earlier that the name of this podcast is Audaciousness, and what we want to do is to showcase people who have set themselves audacious goals and worked hard to achieve them to show that anybody, all of us can set ourselves audacious goals. Now, I know in speaking to you, and in following you on LinkedIn, and other places that you've done quite a bit of audacious work in your lifetime. And so I wonder if we can begin by you telling us and telling the listeners a little bit about yourself, and about some of the audacious work that you've done. I'm quite excited to find out which of the audacious work, the audacious goals you're going to talk about.

Myah:

Thank you so much, Helen. And thank you Maribel, for having me. On your podcast today, it's really an honor and privilege to be here with you. So some of the audacious goals that I had set out for myself, I think it started pretty much, three to four years back. And before that my life was almost going in terms of very linear, a very linear life, in terms of things that was by default given to me and something that were being decided by the societal norms, and the rigmarole of life that I had just gone along with. And therefore, somewhere along the line, I realized that I wanted to do something different, something that stood out for myself. And I finally decided that I wanted to live by design, and not by default. And I think that is when you know, that was the turning point in my life, when I realized that I just do not want to be one amongst the many, I really wanted to hone in on my voice and to stand out and to own my truth. And therefore, the journey inward started. And I really wanted to understand what is it that makes me who I am? And what am I here for? What am I here for? And after that question, I went into a very inward journey, a very reflective journey. And I think that was also the time I did a lot of my solo travels, pursuits. And while traveling, you know, traveling always opens up perspective, it opens up views, meeting people all across the world, from different cultures, it really expanded my horizon, it gave me a lot of perspective to life. And I realized my life cannot just be defined by the nine to nine job that I was holding at that point in time. And it cannot be defined by the paycheck, it cannot be defined by sitting in a cubicle all day and thinking that that's it, this is all about life. And so I kind of, you know, started experimenting with my life, to be honest. I kind of dabbled my fingers in a couple of things. And I changed my industry. So I actually have 30 plus years of work experience in the corporate world, while I started off working with the IT sector, the technology firms, and some of the big four consulting firms within India. Because my primary education has been in STEM. I'm an engineer, and also did my Masters in Business Administration. And then I realized that this is the same kind of job that I would be doing going forward. And when I really realized it, I really wanted to experiment and do something different. Now, what different? And that question kind of, you know, kept on going around in loops within my mind. And so I think that was also the time the traveling happened. And I also experimented my life with trying out something different, which came in the form of training myself as a movement therapy practitioner. I've always been somebody who loves to dance and who loves to use music and art as a form of therapy, as a form of way of expressing yourself and way of expressing your thoughts, not just by using words, but by using the language of the body. And so that was another interesting, you know, dimension of my life, I would say, I kind of experimented with and didn't know pretty much before that it existed. And that opened up another view, another perspective for me in life. And so at the time, when I was gainfully employed within the organization, I started experimenting with this as a philosophy. And I used much of my personal time and my weekends to develop on this and therefore started a social venture working particularly with a lot of women. Because I also realized in my work that we as women, we tend to put everybody's needs and cares first, and most of the time we forget to take care of ourselves. And so for me, I realized that this is the same when it's for me. And when I worked with a lot of women groups across the world, I figured that this was the same, you know, the same feeling so many of us have, but yet easier said than done, we forget it. And so you know, bringing that back into our consciousness every time, how do we make self care as a center of our life, and something as a daily ritual? I think that's very important and something which I was able to do with my work as a movement therapy practitioner. And this again, as I mentioned, was happening while I was, you know, working and gainfully employed within the organization. And therefore, that kind of you know, that it was like a thought bubble that came to me that I wanted to now go out there and do more of this, because I was really enjoying what I was doing. And so I went back to my native and I went back to my home, and my family, and I consulted with them. And I said, Hey, you know what, I have a great business plan, and this is what I'm going to do. And I'm going to quit my job. And everybody just gave me the look. And they were like, really? Like, really? Are you? Are you like, are you really crazy, or like what's happened, like, let's just, you know, let's just sit and have a chat. Nobody believed, nobody believed in my dream, nobody believed that this is something which could become like a full fledged profession or something that I could gainfully be employed and make money from. So nobody believed in my dream, and I came back pretty much feeling, you know, depressed and dejected that, okay, and maybe in some ways, now, in the hindsight, I feel that maybe the time was not right for me, and I wasn't prepared enough to take the leap of faith back then, which was four years back. So I really worked on myself in the last four years, I also worked a lot, internally to really, you know, build on this business plan and to see what other other ramifications it could have. And so therefore, I went on another, you know, a very internal search of meaning and purpose, which therefore got me to working with a life coach. And she kind of assisted me and helped me in honing on what exactly is my North Star, what exactly is my North Star. And when I really wanted to define what is my North Star, I figured that my purpose is to help others and to help others through my words, through my work, and through my life. And so therefore, I really started embodying that entire feeling of what is it about my life that I could possibly lead by example, I could possibly lead by example. And so therefore, that was another, you know, I would say, another tipping point in my life, when I went a lot more internal. And when I went a lot more inside of me to really understand what it meant. And therefore the other fees or the other way of my life started when I really started honing in on a slow and sustainable lifestyle. And that was another turning point, when I decided finally, finally that I was now ready to move on from the corporate world. And I was ready to quit the corporate career and to move into living in a small village in India, and to quit the hustle bustle of living in a big city in a metropolitan. I am a big city girl all my life. And now I live in a village community, which is very much close knit. And this and just to, you know, share this with you that all of this was happening in January 2020. And pretty much when I landed here in the month of March 2020, when I actually got my place, my apartment, a two days post that the entire of India was under lockdown. So it kind of happened in the backdrop of the whole global pandemic. So that kind of, you know, added to the audaciousness of my goals, I would say. So there it was. And yeah, so I think that that kind of, you know, gives you a little taste of some of the audacious plans that I have been working on so far.

Maribel:

Oh, you're a fantastic storyteller, I could listen the whole day!

Helen:

That sounds fantastic. And the fact that it's all just happened in the last four years. What an amazing journey.

Myah:

Oh, yes. I totally agree with you on that one.

Helen:

Yeah, yeah, there's a couple of things that you said. Just at the beginning, when you were talking, I love the expression that you used: I want to live my life by design, and not by default. I thought that was a fantastic expression to use. And also the fact that you're, you're saying, I want to experiment with my life, you know, some of us are so happy within the box.

Myah:

Yeah. So it's like, you know, we have only one life to live, right? We have only one life to live. And so I realized that so I actually read this book, you know, The Regrets of the Dying. If you've heard about it, there are six regrets or six or five regrets of the dying. And the author mentions that one of the regrets of the dying is basically that I wish I had the courage to, you know, go out and live my dream. And that's something I do not want to be on my deathbed and be regretting. That is very clear for me and when it really became very clear for me, I think that became my North Star. I kind of knew what I didn't want. But I had to really spend the time to find out what I wanted. It started from what I do not want.

Helen:

You mentioned that you spoke to a life coach who obviously helped you on your journey as well. But you also in a previous call with me talked about a letter that you wrote to yourself?

Myah:

Yes. So in the year of 2018, 31 of December 2018. I remember that day very clearly. Because the next day was New Year's and 2019, would be the new year, I wrote a letter to myself saying that in 2019, what is it that I'm setting up myself to do because now I was almost prepping up for my, you know, big movement, the transition, the transition happened in 2020. And 2019, being a very pivotal year for me to prep. So I really wrote a letter to myself saying that this year is going to be huge. And what is it because I realized, and I decided that I'm no longer going to play small, I'm really going to play big. And so I wrote myself big, hairy, audacious goals, BHAG, big, hairy, audacious goals. And so, so the audacious goal was number one, to quit my corporate job. That was the most audacious goal. And one of the reasons I'll tell you, it was audacious, is also because I did not know at that time, what is it I'm going to do? I did not know at that time, but all I knew was that I am ready to turn on a new chapter of my life. And I'm actually ready to start a new book, not only turn on a new chapter, but really start a new book. And so which which kind of, you know, turned out in the form of completely leaving the city life and completely leaving the, the known shores in some ways, you know, the known shores of the comfort zone that I was living for, for so many years, and decades, actually, to really, really set out myself in the unknown, to chart out myself in the unknown waters, and to see how far can you sail, how far can you sail? And I also know that there are going to be times and there has been times, when I will be struggling to float. But the matter of the fact is that when you are on purpose, you know, even if you fail, you will fail on purpose. And I think that is what has really been holding me up through all the trials and tribulations that I've been facing on and off. My health has been quite a challenge in the last couple of months. But I have always gone back to my why, when you make your why bigger, the how happens. And that is what I strongly believe in. When my why is so big, I know the how will happen because the universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart. And I am stubborn when it comes to my goals.

Helen:

This is fantastic. So many words of wisdom here. Sorry, Maribel, you wanted to..

Maribel:

It's kind of like everything she says is amazing. I just wanted to know, so that is the pure essence of confidence, doing something without really knowing how it's going to turn out. But being so convinced, this is what I have to do. And then just take that, take that first step. Now that you've done that. So what have you been doing this past year? What is your work about?

Myah:

Yes, it's a great question, actually, thank you Maribel for asking that. So right now I work as a holistic life and career coach and a certified dance movement therapy practitioner. I'm also the founder and president of Lean In Sustainability, which is a global community focused on climate change and gender. And my mission is towards building a world that is sustainable, inclusive, and conscious. So through all my work that I do, even as a coach, I ensure that I'm able to bring in the elements of climate change and conscious awareness into the practice with my work with my clients. And that is what I am set out to do. And through the work that I do in Lean In Sustainability, it is how do we inspire people? And how do we inform and make more informed decisions, make more conscious choices to live a more sustainable life, whether it comes in the form of sustainable fashion, moving towards slow fashion, in terms of conscious consumption, when it comes to turning maybe let's say a less meat or a no meat kind of a diet. So these are very, very small steps that each one of us can take. These are conscious decisions, conscious choices we can make. And I believe that each one of us has a role to play when it comes to climate change. Yes, while the government, while the policies and the industry, you know the whole industry is working towards, at a very different macro level. But even at a very individual level, I think we have a lot more that we can do. And through my work with Lean In Sustainability, that is exactly what I'm trying to do. And we are at the moment, a community of 1200 plus members across the world. And we have these campaigns that we run from time to time, which therefore makes people take inspired actions, one of the campaigns I want to share with you is we ran a two month shopping detox challenge, which was basically moving into a more sustainable fashion, and therefore not shopping from the big boys, and not really shopping for two months. Because if you see we have a lot of these big billion days, Amazon Prime days and and people end up buying a lot of things that we do not need. 80% of the time we only wear 20% of what we have in our closets. And if you look at the numbers, and if you look at the metrics, more than 11 million, it's 11 million tons of textile that ends up in the US landfills annually, and $50 billion of unworn clothes are found in the closets, that is a massive number to look at. It's just being more conscious and aware. And I think through my work as a coach, I really try to bring some of these elements. And I'm also a member of the Climate Coaching Alliance, which is an international organization that focuses on bringing in the climate conversations to our coaching clients.

Helen:

And I understand that some of your campaigns and initiatives have won international awards as well, is that, right?

Myah:

Yes, that's true. That's true. So, in my earlier role as our CSR and so, CSR is Corporate Social Responsibility and social impact leader within the organization that I was working for, in my prior role, the work that I did over there was to strategize a biodiversity project. And that is something which is a pioneering project in India, which was completely based on tiger conservation, and how do we reduce the man-animal conflict, so that nature and man can coexist. So this was a project which got us both local domestic and international acclaim, because this was the project we won in the year 2020, we won the India Responsible Tourism Award, Outlook India Responsible Tourism Award for this project in the year 2020. And the very same year, I was planning to travel to Bonn in Germany, for the UN United Nations Conference, United Nations SDG awards conference, because that was the place I was being invited to present this project. However, because of the entire pandemic situation, I wasn't able to travel. But this was one of the projects that again, you know, brought me back and brought me back to understand the importance of the coexistence of nature with the entire biodiversity. And this is a hands-on experience, to see how, you know, the kind of massive destruction we have done, because when I went to the villages of rural India, I really could see how much of this climate change has impacted the lives of men, women and children irrespective. And so some of the work we did in the, in the project, we did 12 interventions, and one of the interventions was again to, you know, bring back the awareness and to raise much more campaigns and awareness within the man and animal basically, to do a lot more educational information for the villagers, because what happens is, if you are living in the vicinity of the village of the forest area, and there is an attack by a tiger or a wild animal, the natural instinct for the villagers is to go and kill that. And if you look at the numbers, that is how the wildlife population is depleting. So when we look at the numbers and how do we conserve the biodiversity, how do we really, you know, make peace with the fact that man and animal both can coexist. So we have to train and we have to educate the villagers, whenever these kind of situations happen, what is it that could be your first line of defense, and how can you know how to interact without aggravating the animals. So there are so many various levels of education and awareness, we could spread with them. And we also went on to reforesting a lot of the forest cover because the entire forest cover is also depleting. So we went on to reforest the entire forest cover and in the last three to four years, this has grown into a huge forest right now. And we also did construct an entire Tribal Museum, which again brings us back to our core roots of understanding where we come from and what has been the heritage, what has been the culture, and also makes a livelihood for the villagers. So that they do not go out in the forest and, you know, try to uproot the trees, sell the wood and make money out of it. But then giving them various different other alternative means of livelihood, this being one of them, we also trained the women in the village to learn sewing and tailoring, so they can also start earning their own livelihood. So there have been many different interventions. I just happen to speak about some.

Maribel:

I was just wondering how many hours you sleep?

Myah:

I do have trouble sleeping, but I'm following a lot of Arianna Huffington’s you know, advice on sleep. And that works. Yes.

Helen:

These are pretty audacious goals and transformational, you know, that you've, you've transformed whole communities here. I can sense the drive coming from you, you know, this energy that you know, you're making...

Myah:

Thank you so much. That means a lot to me, Helen. Thank you so much.

Helen:

I'm just wondering what challenges you've faced, I can imagine there's a lot of challenges in the work that you do, can you say a little bit about the challenges and how you deal with them, Myah?

Myah:

I think the first and foremost challenge was in accepting. And so I would say it was the fear of dreaming, I think the fear of dreaming was the first biggest challenge, because I knew that I'm dreaming big. And when I know that I'm dreaming big, I am fearful because I don't know how to make it work. I really don't know how to make it work. Because, to be honest and fair nobody in my family has gone the entrepreneurial route. And so I really cannot fall back on my family members, or many of my friends, so to speak, because I spent more than a decade, you know, in the corporate world, and everybody has a job, which is in the corporate sector. So for me to start something very different and the fact that I have interest in various different fields, it also makes it interesting that I also started networking and meeting people from various different walks of life. Like when I trained myself as a movement therapist, I got introduced to the whole world of artists, the whole world of theatre and drama and play, which is very different from the corporate world. And the language that we use in the corporate world and the language that you use in the world of art and therapy and play is very different. So I'm kind of, you know, the bridge between both these worlds, and I love the fact that I am a bridge between both these worlds. And so I think for me, the fear of dreaming was big. And the second fear was the fear of acceptance, because I realized that my friends and family just thought I'm crazy. And I'm really gonna try it for a few couple of months. And then I'll be like, back to square one. But I always knew that it's almost like, you know, I have had a lot of sleepless nights thinking what if, what if I tried, what if I tried? Not: What if I failed? But what if I tried? So I think that is what has really gotten me like, Okay, let me just try. Let me just try and I'm going to give it all.

Maribel:

Myah, I would like to go back to the time where you were still in your corporate job and dealing with these pros and cons, should I do it? And should I quit my job, oh my God, what it's gonna happen, because I'm sure that many people are in a similar position where you were back then, with this huge fear of stepping out of a life that is kind of like set out to you. And then I'm going to continue working here for the next 13 years till I retire, and then I'll start working in the garden or, you know, something like that. And because that gives people security, just the fact that they know how it's going to happen.

Myah:

Totally agree.

Maribel:

What happened in your head? What was the shift that helped you move out of that, let's say limbo into action, so that other people that are listening to this might get some inspiration?

Myah:

Yeah, I mean, it's interesting, Maribel, that you asked this question also, because you know, I do get a lot of clients who are actually sailing in this very same boat like you described. Because I interestingly, get a lot of my coachees and clients are in the similar boat when they are in a job, they have a secure and stable life, in terms of the corporate world in terms of the corporate work that they are doing. However, they have this fascinating idea that they want to go out in the world and do something about, but then there's a lot of fear which is really working against them in some way because they haven’t so far learned how to make allies with fear. And I think that is what my turning point was is to... fear is just a feeling right? It is just a feeling. And the fear of failure kills more dreams than the actual failure. The fear of failure kills more dreams than the failure itself, because we fear that we may fail. But my point is, let's try and see what if we do not fail. And that is where I think the turning point for me came. And I would like to share this with you. There's a book by Ruth Sukup called Do It Scared. And in the book, she talks about the various different fear archetypes, if any of the listeners are interested, you can go ahead and you know, check it out. And I did that. I did take that assessment for myself, I really wanted to know, what is my fear archetype? What is the fear that is blocking my path? And how can I work with it, not make it something which is a gremlin, which is running in my head, and I will not let the fear run my life. So it's almost like having a friend, like you just invite that friend, okay, Dear Fear, come, let's have a chat. Let's do it. Let's just have a cup of coffee. And let's just, you know, have a quick chat, like, what is it that you're here for? And when you really try to hone in on that feeling of having a conversation with your fear. I would really like to ask this of all the audiences who are listening right now, how often do you meet your fear? How often do you meet your fear and actually have a conversation with it? Or is it that you are just running away from the fear? Because fear is just a feeling. You have a chat, an answer will come. And that is the time you have to listen.

Helen:

This is amazing. I'm loving this. I'm loving this conversation, Myah. I'm sure this conversation could go on for a lot longer. Unfortunately, we do only have half an hour and we're coming to the end of it now. Maribel, I'm gonna ask the final question in a moment. Is there any other question that is on your lips right now?

Maribel:

I just asked the most important one and got an amazing answer. So go ahead, Helen.

Helen:

It's fantastic. Thank you. So this has to do with the name of our podcast Audaciousness. And it's to do with the solid grounding that keeps you keeps you going because the word ness is it's got an archaic meaning of being a piece of land, which juts out into the sea. And despite all of the stormy weather going on around it, it still stays standing. So my question to you is, then what gives you in your life, the solid grounding, to keep going, to keep pursuing your vision and your goals, despite everything that life is throwing at you?

Myah:

It's a very crucial question to answer to yourself first. And I think for me, I have found that answer. And the answer is my spiritual practices. My solid grounding is my spiritual practice. I think it's always I go back to my roots, I go back to really honing in and really looking at who am I, and what am I doing on this planet Earth? And when I'm able to find that answer, when I know what my mission is in this world, that is where everything around my life circulates around it. And so it has to be my spiritual practices that has been and will always be my solid rooting grounding, that will make me come back to myself. It's also like, you know, if I imagine myself like a tree, and standing when there's wind, which is blowing around, and it can very well topple you over. But if the roots are very deep, if the roots are extremely deep, you would withstand the wind. And that root for me is my spiritual practice.

Helen:

That's lovely, thank you so much, Myah. I've really enjoyed this conversation with you. It's been amazing and eye opening and I love what you said about fear. And I'm gonna take on board what you said about fear because I think I need to dance with fear a little bit more as well.

Myah:

Lovely. I would definitely love to hear your experience with dancing with fear.

Helen:

Yeah, let's keep in touch after this conversation, and thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us. It's been a fantastic experience. We've loved it. Thank you, Myah.

Maribel:

Indeed. Thank you very much.

Myah:

Thank you so much for having me here. And it was really a great time chatting with you this afternoon.

Next Episode All Episodes Previous Episode

Listen for free

Show artwork for AudaciousNess

About the Podcast

AudaciousNess
A solid grounding on which to practice your audacity.
AudaciousNess showcases individuals who have set themselves bold, audacious goals and have worked to achieve them. Our purpose is to inspire people to act with the courage to create a positive impact in the world.

Through interviewing 'regular people' about their audacious goals, we highlight the fact that role models are everywhere. Each and every one of us can have an impact in some way. Our goal is to enable a courageous community that honours their genius and lives their calling.

The name 'AudaciousNess' has two components: audacious, meaning 'bold', and ness, meaning 'a strip of land projecting into a body of water'. We believe having a solid grounding on which to practice your audacity is crucial, or, in the words of the great philosopher king Marcus Aurelius (Meditations, 4.49):

"Be like the promontory against which the waves continually break, but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it."

About your hosts

Maribel Ortega

Profile picture for Maribel Ortega
I help women find their worth and be confident so that they can use their voice, speak up, take new opportunities and ultimately lead fulfilled lives.

Helen Strong

Profile picture for Helen Strong
I run an eco-friendly, vegan B&B in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. This is just one of the many audacious goals I've pursued in my lifetime.