Baishakhi Connor – Workaholism is an addiction, don’t wear it as a badge of honour

Baishakhi Connor
Baishakhi Connor explains how " It all starts with belief", why you should "Chase your dreams, but don’t become captive to them" and that "Things happen, it isn’t the end of the world" along with more great lessons. Hosted by Jeffery Wang

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About Baishakhi Connor

When Baishakhi was 8, she wanted to be the President of the United States. Growing up in a tiny Indian town on a healthy dose of fiction, anything seemed possible. At 12, she realised a one-way flight to US cost many years of their household income! Presidency dreams were replaced by a search for ways to explore the world from near-poverty-line status.

From her tiny town start in life, Baishakhi has gone on to carve a diverse career spanning four continents. Now in her 40s, she continues to stretch her boundaries in ways she could never have imagined at 8. She has a senior management role in one of Australia’s largest retailers. She joined her first Board role last year. She volunteers. She mentors. She writes. She speaks. She makes time to learn new things, currently flexing her muscles into Powerlifting.

Baishakhi lives in a tri-cultural tri-religious family with her Australian Catholic husband and Afghan Muslim foster daughter. As foster mum of 1, step mum of 4 and step grand mum of 4 (and a ½), her life is a busy blur of family, fun and food.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: It all starts with belief 02:25
Lesson 2: Workaholism is an addiction, don’t wear it as a badge of honour 09:19
Lesson 3: Things happen, it isn’t the end of the world 19:26
Lesson 4: Learn the known way, they find your OWN way 24:22
Lesson 5: Chase your dreams, but don’t become captive to them 30:59
Lesson 6: Reframe your thinking, count your blessings 37:12
Lesson 7: Embrace the differences, learn from them 40:01
Lesson 8: Bias is all around us. Recognise it, challenge it, break it 47:36
Lesson 9: Let the iron teach you 55:22
Lesson 10: Give it time, let tears morph into memories 1:01:26

Baishakhi Connor – Workaholism is an addiction, don’t wear it as a badge of honour

[00:00:08] Jeffery Wang: All right. Hello and welcome to the podcast. 10 lessons learned where we dispense wisdom, not just information, not mere facts or not mere platitudes to an international audience of rising leaders. In other words, in this podcast, you’re here valuable insights that you cannot learn from a textbook because it took us years to learn this stuff.

[00:00:27] My name is Jeffrey Wang, the founder of professional development forum and your host today, this podcast is sponsored by the Professional Development Forum, which helps diverse young professionals of any age find fulfillment in the modern workplace. Today we’re joined by Baishakhi Connor before Baishakhi was a senior executive and board director.

[00:00:46] She came from very humble beginnings when Baishakhi was eight growing up in a tiny Indian town on a healthy dose of fiction, anything seen possible she aspired to be the President of the United States, but then she realized that a one-way flight to the US costs many years of their household income. So, the presidency dreams were replaced by a search for ways to explore the world from near poverty line status. From a tiny town. She has gone on to carve an impressive international career, spanning four continents. She’s now in senior management for one of Australia’s largest retailers. And she joined her first board of directors last year’s she volunteers, she mentors, she writes, she speaks.

[00:01:30] She makes time to learn new things. Currently flexing her muscles into power lifting Baishakhi lives in a tri cultural tri religious family with her Australian Catholic husband and Afghan Muslim foster daughter as a foster mom of one stepmom of four and step grandma of four and a half. Her life is a blur of family, fun and food.

[00:01:55] What a life, Baishakhi, needless to say that you’re not someone that fits anywhere neatly into a box

[00:02:03] Baishakhi Connor: yes, that, that I don’t. Yeah, definitely. We are very different from. How I grew up and yes, therefore not quite any box, any one box that can define me, I guess.

[00:02:17] Jeffery Wang: absolutely. So, you know, I sense that you’ve got a fascinating story, which I’m sure will unpack through the 10 lessons that you’ve got to share with us.

[00:02:25] Lesson 1:   It all starts with belief

[00:02:25] Jeffery Wang: So, let’s jump straight into it then. Lesson number one, you said that it all starts with belief.

[00:02:33] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah. Like, you were saying in my introduction, I come from a very small town in India. In fact, like even now on Google maps, you can’t quite see the exact name of where I come from.

[00:02:46] The things we grew up with were very basic. So, we didn’t have phones or fridges or TVs or all the things that we kind of take for granted, I guess, in our lives. Now we didn’t quite have, and we’d be the ones that you might have seen in movies run behind the cars, because it’s just so rare and planes.

[00:03:06] Definitely. It’s just some kind of story you like see in the sky, but definitely never see anyone. Like I did not know anyone who’d done that and to think of it from there are now I live and work in Australia now, but I’ve lived and worked in multiple different countries. And I have a pretty senior position.

[00:03:27] I have a very comfortable life. I can support my parents, but just the difference when I go back there. All of my childhood friends are still there. There’s no, not much change in their lives. Yes. Technology has improved to the extent they have mobile phones, et cetera. So, there’s a bit more in there, but they haven’t moved out of there.

[00:03:46] They have never thought they could have a different life. And I think why I am the only kind of different person started with belief. It was belief that gave me that. First of all, like the belief that a different life is even possible is what started it. Cuz the others thought that is it. You can’t, if you’re born here and if you’re given this, there is a certain amount you can get, but that’s it they kind of had a ceiling in their own mind and belief is what helped me break that ceiling kind of.

[00:04:25] So it started from there.

[00:04:26] Jeffery Wang: And so, get your belief from?

[00:04:30] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah. Yeah, that is an interesting question because belief doesn’t quite come on it, so, and does it, you can’t just say, oh, I just, you know, I’m just this different person that has a belief. I think you have to be curious and yes, once you’re there then luck kind of forms your way.

[00:04:44] So for me, first of all, I had role models and because of my curiosity, I think throughout life, I always look up to role models and take bits and piece of their lives. And for me, role models, aren’t celebrities or someone this phenomenal person somewhere in the world for me, it started with my mother.

[00:05:02] So my mother, started working in her twenties in the 1960s, which was fairly uncommon for people there. So, in India, a small town for a woman to work was uncommon. She then continued to work after she got married and she continued to work after she had my sister and me as well, which even for Australia’s uncommon, let alone like in a tiny Indian town.

[00:05:24] I think that was my first bit of learning that you can push the boundaries of convention. You can do something different. And throughout life, I look up to these various pieces of things that people are doing around me to of get that belief. And then my parents sent me to very kind of, for us, a very posh expensive school.

[00:05:48] In fact, at one stage they were spending 60% of our household income just on my education because I wanted to do something. So, they sent me to this big city to a boarding school. And it was hard being at a boarding school with people, obviously from a very different socioeconomic class. But again, that gave me a window into what life could be.

[00:06:10] And I think that’s like, you could go one of two ways and, many people will go when you see someone with a lot of privilege, let’s say compared to you, you’d go kind of have a victim mentality. I more had. That’s what gives me belief look at them. It is possible to have a different life. And then the last thing again, this curiosity and this sponge mentality coming in is books.

[00:06:33] So my mom introduced both my sister and I to books and just that world. And like you said, I grew up on a very healthy dose of fiction. But I love fiction because it can break the boundaries of what convention is. If you just look at reality around, you kind of think that is it. That is my box. Whereas for me, the box is ever evolving, ever changing, ever breaking.

[00:06:56] Cause I’m just looking at different people, different books, different things. And with that going actually, there’s this other thing beyond what I now see that is possible. That’s what gives the seed of belief for me.

[00:07:10] Jeffery Wang: Absolutely. I can definitely see how important that is. As the first step of, breaking out of, you know, I guess the life that you thought you were destined for, you know, and a lot of us, don’t ever question or challenge, you know, you’re a lot in life, whereas I think, you know, your mother, as an example showed you the way and instil that belief in yourself that you could be anybody that you want.

[00:07:32] I did have a curious thought though. So, I, I hear about India having a caste system, you know, so your future is sort of determined on what you’re born into. Did that have a bearing on, your thoughts or, you know, the way you were treated?

[00:07:48] Baishakhi Connor: So, so on a cast basis, I was actually privileged.

[00:07:52] So I had a lot of dis privilege on you know, finance or where I was born, et cetera, but on a caste basis, I. Just by sheer luck was born into a privileged class. And in fact, for a long time, I did not have enough awareness or maybe acknowledgement of how difficult it can be for some people just because of caste.

[00:08:20] And it’s only recently where I’ve talked to so many other people, there are definitely parts of India, possibly in other countries as well, but definitely parts of India where just because of caste, you’re not even allowed to go to certain schools just because of caste. You’re not even allowed to step into certain places because of caste.

[00:08:40] So I, I have friends who have still broken out of there and that is like belief and determination of an absolutely different kind. So again, possible is definitely possible that if they have the belief they can work and be determined and break out of it. But the barriers put in their way is mind boggling.

[00:09:03] It is true. It is real. It is mind boggling. But it is still possible. It is still possible with belief. And then other things fall in your way to break out of there.

[00:09:14] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. Which goes back to your lesson. It all starts with belief.

[00:09:18] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah.

[00:09:19] Lesson 2:   Workaholism is an addiction, don’t wear it as a badge of honour

[00:09:19] Jeffery Wang: So, let’s move on to lesson number two. Now I’m sensing a great story behind this.

[00:09:24] So you, you say that workaholism is an addiction, not a badge of honor.

[00:09:29] Baishakhi Connor: yeah, this was quite a turnaround for me, actually, as you can hear from my story, it took a lot of hard work for me to kind of move up from where I come from. And I associated therefore a lot of value to hard work and took that as what should be done.

[00:09:47] And it is a badge of honor. And hard work gave me the success I wanted as well. So, whether it was through school and being at the top of the class and then working really hard at work, working in different countries, et cetera, but it was even at work. It was a badge of honor for me to say, I am busy.

[00:10:05] I am working hard. I am working long hours. So, investment banking, when I did investment banking in Hong Kong, I would work 120 hours a week. I would get into work at 8:00 AM and leave at 4:00 AM, but I thought so. I thought that’s a badge of honor. And it took me 16 years before that turned around. And anytime during that 16 years, if you asked me, I would say like, that’s great.

[00:10:33] I am working hard. I am successful. And that’s like honourable thing for. And that’s it. And it took me so long to go and get into my own mind. Okay. That is actually not a badge of honor. It is an addiction. It is an addiction that I need to get out of. And it took me unfortunately like a tragedy in my own life to break out of that.

[00:10:56] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. So, so what happened? What made you trigger the change of mindset?

[00:11:02] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah, it took a fair few things. So, first of all, in, in 2017, I lost my dad, and I was in Australia. He was back in India. So unfortunately, I wasn’t there when he passed away. But I ran over there like any daughter would.

[00:11:19] And I hadn’t changed. I still had my laptop with me and my work with me. And in between doing the things. There’s a lot of rituals in India that you have to do when your, family member passes away. But in between doing things, I was still working. It was still in my mind; it was still my badge of honour.

[00:11:39] So no matter what hardship in life comes in, it was still my badge of honor. And I remember at his wake, when people are literally in the house, there’s like maybe a hundred people through the house. There’s a priest, there’s things happening. And someone’s texting me or calling me from Australia about work.

[00:11:55] I don’t even remember what work that was, which shows you how unimportant it actually is, but I was typing away and doing something in between there. And if people questioned it and I don’t even think people questioned it that much, because it’s a culture of a hard work is just celebrated. And I just kept going.

[00:12:15] What changed actually was when I came back. So, I spent two weeks there doing all the rituals and whatever. When I came back A), I had just gone through a trauma, and I had got like dad’s news on my phone as a text. And I had this almost panic when I heard the phone. Like, I would think something’s happened to mom, because she was the only parent left now.

[00:12:39] So I kind of went through a mental trauma and that obviously caused me to just have to pull back on work a little bit, because work texts were making me panic. Thinking it’s mom or something’s happened. But all of that combined, and it sounds hard, but it’s a blessing in disguise. It’s kind of was leading to an almost burnout where I decided.

[00:13:05] I just need time off. I need to spend time with mom. I don’t know how long she would be around. Thankfully. She’s good. She’s still around. She’s really good. But at that time in the month or two following dad’s death, I thought, oh, I just need time with mom. And because of that, so it was kind of unrelated to work, but because of that, I actually just quit work without anything else to do.

[00:13:28] So I did not have another job lined up. And I talked to my work where I was doing quite well. And I said, I’m sorry, I just need the time off. And I don’t even want a sabbatical because knowing me I’d know that I’d still try and do some hard work through the sabbatical. So, I literally quit work. And then in the months following that was the first ever time in my life that I had nothing.

[00:13:52] I had no structure. I had no school. I had no studies. I had no work. I had no emails. I had nothing. And it was that emptiness. Which then gave me the realization that what I had was an addiction. It’s not a badge of honor. So unfortunately, it wasn’t even quite dad’s death. It was things that followed and the sheer emptiness that came after that brought me to that realization.

[00:14:21] I think many other people say they, they come to it through meditation, which is similar. You kind of empty your mind of everything. And I had never done that. So, I came to it almost forced by life circumstances, but it was that pushing away, all the chaos, pushing away, all the other things in life, giving myself the space to think brought me that clarity eventually.

[00:14:44] Jeffery Wang: So, if I could just poke a little bit further on that addiction element, right? It’s almost like you’re using work as validation. Or using work as a distraction to the emptiness?

[00:14:55] Baishakhi Connor: Yes.

[00:14:56] Jeffery Wang: Was there an underlying reason that you’ve discovered that fuel, that, you know, that addiction, you know, was there a chip on the shoulder?

[00:15:05] Was there something that you had to prove or is just a cultural programming, I suppose, you know, when you’re growing up what made you feel like you need to work hard in order to be, I suppose, worth it?

[00:15:17] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah. Yeah. It’s interesting. I think there’s many factors, I think, yes, there is cultural programming to just hard work.

[00:15:25] There’s cultural programming to, you know, you must do, as your boss says, and you know, you must value the fact that you even have work because culturally many of my family, you know, would be insecure in their job. So, they would just do, but definitely many other things like it would be, would’ve been just in me that I felt I associate an identity with my works. If you ask me who I am, instead of telling you everything else in my life, that I tell you now, I’d say, oh, I am the senior manager in this great company. That’s what I associate my identity with.

[00:16:03] And that’s actually one of the things. And I also, now I have almost a list of things that I do, so I don’t fall back into addiction.

[00:16:10] And I think it’s true for any addiction. Anyone who has been an addict to anything will know you are prone to that, always it kind of, there’s an underlying pattern. And I kind of do a few things now myself to make sure I don’t fall back into that level ever again. So first the first thing is my lesson, like to acknowledge that it is a problem, it’s not a badge of honor.

[00:16:33] And then I use. Language and sentences quite deliberately. I’ll say like, if I say I want to work till 5:00 PM. If I leave at five 30 or six, I call it a late night. Whereas in my workaholic days, I would say, oh, 6:00 PM. It’s like a day off almost because you used to work so late. So, it’s not that I’m, I would never have a 9:00 PM.

[00:16:56] It is rare, but I’d have it because there’s some deadline or something coming up. But I would, in my mind call it’s a very late night, which means you don’t do it every day. And I make sure that the company I work in or the boss I work with does not encourage my addiction and that cultural thing of, you know, I don’t want a culture where just being seen to work, doing the hours is considered the good thing.

[00:17:25] I think that definitely was. Both because of my Indian culture and because of the culture of the types of work I did like investment banking. It’s considered that long hours are good. So, I’m careful of doing that now. I definitely, I am doing more to have identities beyond work and that is really important.

[00:17:45] But I try to do many things outside of work now. So, I can say I am a writer. I am a volunteer, I’m this not-for-profit board member. I am a power lifter.

[00:17:57] Jeffery Wang: And I must say that the profile that you shared with me, the, it was one of the more interesting bios I’ve read, you know, because it referred to your power, lifting it, refer to the volunteering, refer to a. Busy blur or family fun and food. And I think that is a much more exciting and authentic way for your identity than potentially, you know, the role that you play at work. So that definitely is something that a piece of wisdom that I believe a lot of people, should adopt and, you know, ideally earlier in life so that you don’t miss out on life. Yeah. Thanks for that lesson.

[00:18:35] Baishakhi Connor: Absolutely. Yeah. That’s my hope that people listen to this and try to do that from very early in their careers. And, you know, just believe me, there are so many places where you will still thrive in your career and actually you will actually thrive in your career and not despite it’s actually because of your breadth of experience and the mental health and the stability you have because of doing all this, you will actually thrive in your career better.

[00:19:01] Actually, I would’ve done much better if I’d done so much earlier in my career and I had the. The social skills to come into a very different country, right? So, I come from India and now work in western worlds. If I’d done all of this much earlier in my career, arguably I’d have more social skills that I would bring into work

[00:19:22] Jeffery Wang: indeed.

[00:19:22] And you’ll be a much more well-rounded individual.

[00:19:25] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah. Yes.

[00:19:26] Lesson 3:   Things happen, it isn’t the end of the world    

[00:19:26] Jeffery Wang: Let’s move on to lesson number three. This is definitely not a lesson that sounds like it would come from an Asian person. you say shit happens, but it’s, isn’t the end of the world. I like to know the story about this one.

[00:19:41] Baishakhi Connor: definitely, I think Asian engineer we are like such an honour bound culture when shit happens. It is the end of the world for definitely my family would feel that way, but this comes from the time, and this is definitely from the time where my identity was absolutely tied in with work. And it was the day after my honeymoon actually.

[00:20:04] So the day after my honeymoon, I walked into work and I was laid off and it was like, the world had ended for me right then, because like I said before, my identity was with work, and I was in investment banking at the time. And it wasn’t even out of the blue. It wasn’t like, like it was 2008 December. And if anyone remembers there was a peak of the financial crisis, I was in London, I saw Lehman Brothers fall down.

[00:20:28] I knew people in my own company were being laid off. In fact, someone called me, even during my honeymoon, my best friend called me to say, oh, everyone else in your team has been laid off. Even then, I was almost arrogant enough to think every single other person in the team’s been laid off, but I’ll somehow be this, you know, I’m this great person or I’m good enough.

[00:20:50] Why would they lay me off? But anyway, I was laid off. And it wasn’t an easy ride right after as well. So, it was my honeymoon, so I just married an Australian and I moved to Australia, and it took me another full year to find my first job. So that whole year wasn’t great. So, it didn’t quite come to me in the minute that that is not the end of the world.

[00:21:17] I definitely felt like, oh my God, it is absolutely what have I got myself into? And how could this happen to me? I am, I’ve done all this hard work. So, I definitely felt like that’s it, that’s the end. But now in hindsight, and with clarity, I can look back and see the good out of it. And that’s what brought me to this lesson.

[00:21:37] And I now say this to so many other people who go through these tough periods in their life, that you can like, even though it is definitely not going to be easy in the moment. And it may not even be easy right after for some time life kind of has a way of healing itself. So, for me, that’s what gave me the opportunity to move to Australia quicker.

[00:22:04] I was working in Hong Kong; I’d married an Australia and that’s what gave me the opportunity to move quicker. I wouldn’t have done it otherwise. That gave me a little bit of financial benefit from a redundancy, et cetera. So, it did back me up, and it gave me again an opportunity to move out of.

[00:22:23] So while I still remained a workaholic for a while, but at least I moved out of investment banking. So, I just gotten married. I was doing 120-hour weeks. I don’t know how my marriage would’ve been if I did continue that and in a different country. But it did give me a great start to my married life.

[00:22:42] And then. After a year. And once I got my first job in Australia, and then afterwards, I went from strength to strength. And now what is it? 14 years later, it is such a distant memory. It is just a story in my life. It’s this thing I tell people of when I was in London and Lehman Brothers collapsed, I saw these people walking.

[00:23:05] Like, it’s just a story to tell it’s nothing else. So, I think, that there’s these kind of external things that happen in life, where we attach so much meaning to whether we lose an important gain, don’t get a deal, get laid off, don’t get the job you want. You know, these are, these seem hurtful, and these seem kind of things.

[00:23:30] That puts you down in the moment and it seems like, oh my God, that is such a shit moment. That is it. My world’s falling down. But promise you, it is not the end of the world. Life will heal itself and you will find better and better things in life. And every single person, you know, will have a blip in their life one way or the other.

[00:23:51] Jeffery Wang: Exactly. And we spoke about it before as well. You know, it’s about how your work was your identity. And I think it gave you a chance to, broaden, who you were as a person. So that’s definitely a very good, valuable lesson. You know, I think another guest previously said that you will survive, and I think it there’s some truth to that.

[00:24:10] And not only yet, you all survive you will, you know, get back up again and you will be able to find meaning again, and you will thrive. So that’s a very positive lesson. We like to leave with our listeners.

[00:24:22] Lesson 4:   Learn the known way, they find your OWN way

[00:24:22] Jeffery Wang: Lesson number four, learn the old way, then find your own way.

[00:24:28] Baishakhi Connor: yes, this is probably coming from someone who can’t fit into a box.

[00:24:33] when I first came to Melbourne, which is after just when I got laid off, right? So, it wasn’t even the best mental kind of space. But when I just came to Melbourne, I did not have any professional network here. I came here because I’d fallen in love with an Australian. He and his family were the only people I knew and none of them were remotely related to the work I was doing.

[00:25:00] Which was investment banking at the time. And eventually I went into consulting, but that’s not what they would do. So, I had zero network and I applied online like people do. I had very little kind of even call-backs from it. And then I reached out to my alumni network, which is an alumni from, India, by the way.

[00:25:22] But just in the hope that someone from there would be in Australia. And definitely the one or two people I met said, oh, you have to network. And I was quite flummoxed. So just to give you some context. As an Indian who’s gone into good Indian colleges. You never have to look for work. So, I don’t know if people know this India has this concept called placements, which is if you are in a, in one of the elite kind of institutions in India, there’s a week or two or a month where companies come there to recruit you because for a company it’s like a captive talent pool, right.

[00:25:59] And they’ve proven themselves through great entrance exams or whatever. So, all I had to do my entire life was get through these entrance exams, do well in school, the university I was at and that’s it companies come there. So, I. In the first day of the placements, whether it was me in undergrad or postgrad, I just got jobs.

[00:26:20] I had never looked for a job. Then people tell me, oh, you have to network. And I found that concept just so foreign to me and it was foreign. So, there’s these business breakfast, and then people are milling around and then they’re doing small talk. I don’t understand half of the cultural, like if they talk about a TV show that I haven’t grown up with, I’ve got no clue.

[00:26:41] Or they talk about like, some place in Melbourne, you know, have you run around the 10, which is this place in Melbourne that everyone runs because just it’s a nice running track. I didn’t know that. So, I couldn’t get these cultural references. I was awkward. I couldn’t talk to these 20 people that I didn’t know.

[00:27:02] I, I found it so foreign and that’s probably why, or that’s at least one of the reasons why it took me a year to find my first job. and actually, it took me longer, but I did get to my way of networking, like the idea is you just have to know people, right? And coming from India, I’ll tell you, we are curious about people.

[00:27:24] We are just, so we are in each other’s business and each other’s lives like nothing else. And all these old neighbourhood aunties, et cetera, they know everything that goes on in your life. So, I found my own way. So instead of going to these business breakfasts or networking events, let’s say, which I found was very awkward for me.

[00:27:45] I just figured out ways to do one-on-one coffee catchups and I love conversation. I’m curious about the person and I’ve built so many genuine friendships and genuine relationships because of that, who I can now fall back on. So, I no longer go to these big kind of like people tell me, oh, what about this event that let’s say Salesforce is doing? Or this event that some other consulting company is doing. And a thousand people will come there, and you’ll meet so many people. I’m like, it’s a waste of time, me personally, because I am not that kind. I’d rather fine to my one or two or three or four people. And build those four genuine relationships.

[00:28:32] Than hand my card out at a place with a 50 or a hundred or thousand people, because that’s not my way. So, I still have to network. So, I did learn the known or the old way But then I found my own way, leaning into my own cultural strength and my own personal strength, my own way to do it. And I do it in everything.

[00:28:53] I kind of go what is expected, but what is my way of doing it? So, I am comfortable doing it.

[00:29:00] Jeffery Wang: I love that. and you’ve touched at a very good point, right? Networking is a very, Western concept compared to a lot of people who might have not grown up with it. But I guess it, it is also misunderstood as well.

[00:29:12] I think networking as you pointed out, the key here is to create, or build genuine friendships, genuine relationships, the deep, sort of connections that you have with people in order to have you know, the, these meaningful support networks, throughout your life. And I think the way you’ve done it is brilliant.

[00:29:33] And what I’ve found and relating to that, you know, I have a similar method. I remember I struggled with a lot of the networking aspect of my job, you know, being in sales because I don’t enjoy drinking and I just can’t take as much alcohol as all

[00:29:49] Baishakhi Connor: my colleagues. That’s another thing I don’t drink.

[00:29:51] So, it’s not quite an Indian thing, but it’s definitely my subculture that we don’t drink. And again, that was definitely difficult in the starting years where everyone just goes, oh, just have one, or just have this. And it’s. It’s kind of hard and it’s in a loud pub where you can’t even hear each other.

[00:30:08] Yeah. I found that difficult too.

[00:30:10] Jeffery Wang: Well, exactly. So, what I did was, well, you know, you have to find other ways. One way I found was that, you know, through food, like, you know, everyone loves food. We have this, I idea of a Yum Cha club, which you, which is getting people to know that’s.

[00:30:23] The beauty about Yum Cha is, well, first of all, everyone loves Yum Cha. Secondly, you can’t have Yum Cha in a small group, you kind of have to have a big enough for it to be a really decent Yum Cha. So, it was a really cool way, really friendly way of just getting to know all these people. And, you know, that’s how I learned a lot of the tricks of the trade in my industry.

[00:30:42] So, yeah, love that idea, you know, learn the old way and then find your own way. And I think, you know, given our cultural context, that’s incredibly important that we have to find something that works for us, but also at the same time that we can stay authentic to, you know, so that we can build these genuine friendships.

[00:30:59] Lesson 5:   Chase your dreams, but don’t become captive to them

[00:30:59] Jeffery Wang: So, lesson number five, chase your dreams, but don’t become captive to them. What do you mean by that?

[00:31:05] Baishakhi Connor: that actually took me a hard knocking life to get through. So, I’ve always chased dreams, right? Like I said, it’s, for me it started with belief, and I’ve chased that belief with hard work.

[00:31:16] Like I was, I had the steely determination. Worked hard got there. And that’s how my life was. You believe in something, you have that dream, chase it down with hard work and you get it. And that was my, almost my formula in life until it didn’t work. So, I did that for a good 30 years. It worked perfectly whatever I decided, whether it was, you know, what school would I go to?

[00:31:41] What postgrad or whatever country it worked. And then in my thirties for something, seemingly quite normal to have a child actually just didn’t work. And initially for me, I tried, my old formula see was a matter of working hard. So, it was a matter of researching what’s needed and going through the grill of it. Whether it’s rounds and rounds of IVF, I probably did 10 rounds of IV.

[00:32:10] I went at it for 10 years and I did. So many rounds of IVF and everything else, whether it’s acupuncture or, Chinese medicine or meditation, different kinds of food, you should eat, shouldn’t eat. Different kinds of containers you should use or not use because apparently plastic. Anyway, I did so much research and so much hard work and I went at it for 10 years.

[00:32:34] And my husband and I we actually landed in couples therapy in the middle of it because it was just that hard. It was straining our own relationship. But it just did work. But through those 10 years in my head, it was still my dream. And hence, that’s what I needed to do. Like that’s how my brain worked.

[00:32:54] Like I, my dream is to become a mother and all I need to do is keep working at it and I can’t quit. That was what it was. and it took us like having landed in couples therapy and watching my husband almost be in tears and saying, you know, he was fearing. He would lose me as well as not have a baby.

[00:33:19] And yeah. That it was kind of heartbreaking to go through those things. And it took me the full decade and maybe a hundred thousand dollars later where probably kind of pushed a bit by my husband at the start to say, okay, like at least give myself a deadline to say, yeah, that is the end. Like we had just one other embryo left or something and no, we wouldn’t do more after that.

[00:33:47] So at least I gave myself a deadline. As it would happen. I did actually fall pregnant in, in that second, last bit I did fall pregnant and then lost it again at 10 weeks. So, it was oh, really eight years in. So, it was a terrible, terrifying time in my life. But once, once we kind of got to that deadline and still didn’t do, it was probably the first time I actually quit something like that.

[00:34:15] Wasn’t in my genes at all. It was like, you just work hard, and you don’t quit was my mantra. And I quit something. But again, after you let go of that is when things start to happen. So, we just happened to kind of see something probably on TV or someone told us, and we went into this information session for foster care.

[00:34:39] That was never in our plan. Like we never thought we toyed with the idea of adoption, but it is hard. And my husband’s heart wasn’t quite in it. And he, we do have his biological children as well in the mix. And we didn’t want to do that, but foster care was never, even in our vocabulary, we didn’t think of it, but we went to this information session.

[00:35:00] We both kind of liked the idea. There’s a lot of process to it as well. But, once we did that, we’ve been foster carers for maybe five years now, but the girl we have now, she’s been with us for three years. She’s an almost 16-year-old and it has changed. That’s where the lesson kind of came from that I was single minded and completely captive and blinkered in my way of thinking captive to my dreams and going

[00:35:30] this is the one way to lead life. And that is it. Whereby now I’m like, yes, definitely we should work hard believe and chase our dreams, but there is more than one way. There’s always more than one way. And, quitting something for the right reason is actually a good thing. And killing yourself over something that is just your dream, but not reality is a mindset given to us for just such wrong reasons.

[00:36:04] Like, I will be happy when I do this. I will be happy when I get that. It’s such a futile and joyless way of living life.

[00:36:17] Jeffery Wang: Absolutely. Now I was expecting you to give up on when you talked about chasing dreams, I was thinking something along the lines of career, but this definitely was something a lot more, a lot more emotional and powerful.

[00:36:34] So that’s certainly a lesson that I’m sure a lot of our listeners would appreciate you sharing.

[00:36:41] Affiliate Break

[00:36:41] Jeffery Wang: Now let’s take a quick break as we thank our affiliate partner, Audible. Audible is an amazing way to consume 10 lessons learned books and other podcasts, allowing to build a library of knowledge all in one place, you can start your 30-day free trial.

[00:36:54] By going to audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned. With audible, you can find your favourite lesson while at home or on the go once again, that’s audible trial.com/one zero lessons learned all lowercase for a 30-day free trial. The link will be in the show notes below.

[00:37:12] Lesson 6:   Reframe your thinking, count your blessings

[00:37:12] Jeffery Wang: We’re talking to senior executive and board director be Baishakhi Connor today. Lesson number six, reframe your thinking and count your blessings.

[00:37:23] Baishakhi Connor: Yes, again, this is kind of like carrying on from the same time of my life, but now I, apply it to so many other parts. Towards the start of my tenure in fertility journey.

[00:37:36] If someone stopped me and people do this all the time. Right. Or have you got kids? How many kids do you have? And my answer was no, not yet. sometimes I’d go on to explain that my husband has kids, but mostly it was like a, no, I don’t have kids and looking back and we do this in so many other parts of my life, in our lives that, when we are answering questions, we are obviously going, like, that’s our way of thinking, right?

[00:38:00] So our way of thinking is often related to what do I want, what do I still not have etc. Whereas, if you now ask me and not much has changed since then, because like I said, unfortunately, by the end of the 10 years, I was unable to have a biological child. So, in reality, not too much changed, but if you ask me now, Hey, do you have kids?

[00:38:27] And this kind of happened by accident for a start showing that my way of thinking genuinely had changed. But when faced with the same question without missing a beat. I go, yep. I’ve got four step kids and one foster kids still at home and I’ve got four grandkids and then we go into a conversation.

[00:38:47] Oh my God, you don’t look like a grandmother. And, you know, that just gives more kind conversational elements rather than when I would answer. No, not yet. I was definitely thinking of. Oh, my God, I’m going through this IVF. And when is this happening next? That’s what would go into my mind. Whereas now that I’ve genuinely reframed my thinking, I can see how much I actually have in life rather than focus on that one former dream that wasn’t achieved.

[00:39:21] And now you can apply it in many other parts of life, right? So, do you have this job? And it’s like, instead of saying, no, I don’t have that dream job. Why not just reframe to what you do have or what I, the volunteering that I do, the writing that I do and everything else. So, there’s less of comparison in my life.

[00:39:44] Now there’s less of that. I will be happy when I get this in my life. Now, as a result of that,

[00:39:53] Jeffery Wang: I love the point that you just made because it sounds to me like, you know, yes, you reframed your thinking but ultimately, I think it’s more about discovering what truly matters to you in the first place.

[00:40:04] You know, where this idea of having children, wasn’t always necessarily a biological thing, you know, for you was around having this meaningful relationship, this legacy, and, you know, it sounds like you found a profound sense of happiness because you already have these relationships, you know, you have kids because you, because for all I intents and purposes, they are your kids.

[00:40:27] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah. They are my kids. Yeah, absolutely. They are. And I think many other people will do this now through gratitude journals, and they’re kind of the same concept, right? So, if at the end of the day, and you might have had a really horrible day. But you’re forced to think of what is the one thing or the three things that made you happy today?

[00:40:48] Your brain does come up with things it might be, or that coffee I had was lovely or bumped into this person. I had not seen for a long time. and eventually once you do this for a long time, your actions will change. Like I found, and I did gratitude journaling for a good two years. And I found that eventually I would do things like, for example, because bumping into an old friend made me happy one day.

[00:41:16] That weekend, I called someone in London. I hadn’t talked to for years and my actions changed because of the way my thinking was changing. So definitely something like this, whether you kind of do it yourself or use tools like the journals, and there’s so many superb journals out there that gives you prompters for thinking every day.

[00:41:37] And you can find them on the internet as well, or you can do it yourself. And I journal quite a lot myself, but try and focus on what is the little things that made you happy and they add up and they change your life, and they change your own action for the better.

[00:41:53] Jeffery Wang: Absolutely. And this is not the first time we’ve heard this lesson at 10 lessons learned gratitude is the key to happiness, by all counts.

[00:42:01] Lesson 7:   Embrace the differences, learn from them

[00:42:01] Jeffery Wang: So, thanks for sharing that lesson number seven, and I’m sure I’ll get a good story out of here because, this is something that I’m personally very passionate about in the field of diversity. lesson number seven is embrace differences and learn from them.

[00:42:16] Baishakhi Connor: if you think back to where I come from, so in India, and I think a number of people know this, there’s a number of different languages, like too many.

[00:42:24] I think there’s thousands of languages, but even when you take the main kind of. Language families. There’s I think 30 plus official languages in India. There are many religions, there’s kind of many cultures and food, et cetera. And we grew up with that. So, we had holidays for Christmas, for Divali, for Eid and for everything.

[00:42:48] We just knew that. And I didn’t think that much of it back then, in Australia though. And you said it in my introduction, I am from a tri cultural tri religious family. So, I’m Indian Hindu. My husband’s Australian of Maltese background. He’s Roman Catholic. And my daughter, my foster daughter is of Afghan background and Muslim.

[00:43:13] So we’re completely different backgrounds, completely different cultures, completely different religions. And we are getting better and better at diversity. It is strange that it is actually a multicultural nation. But there’s some way to go for diversity. So, in the sense, my daughter goes to a Catholic school, and she is the only Muslim in her school.

[00:43:36] So she’s, probably the only Afghan as well. So, there’s few other non-white kids, but no one else of her culture. And she’s obviously the only Muslim in our house as well. So, I once thought, oh, that’s a fun fact and I’ll write about it. And I wrote about it on LinkedIn and someone. I still remember this comment because I found it so strange.

[00:43:58] Like they said, ah, how do you have a peaceful dinner at home when one of you thinks, Jesus is the son of God. One of you thinks Jesus is a prophet. And one of you doesn’t believe in Jesus. And I know I answered kind of half in jest and there was this whole comment thread that came of it and I’m like, ah, I didn’t even think it matters.

[00:44:17] I thought it more matters whether my husband’s done the dishes that day or not like that’s magical in my life. Like who cares what he thinks about Jesus or whether I don’t, I kind of feel like I have such a fun family because I can go and have Maltese food with my husband’s family. Many of them have married Italians or Macedonians, and I can have that food.

[00:44:40] For Eid we kind of make things with my daughter and she is a fabulous cook herself. She’s only 15, almost 16 now, but she’s a fabulous cook herself. And we have all this Afghan food for our Bengali festivals. I come from Bengal and India, and we have all of that. I find like, just so much sheer joy out of all of this, like, oh, I have multiple festivals and I have multiple food.

[00:45:04] I kind of find. Joy in diversity, but I also find definitely at home also at work diversity really brings diverse thinking into our lives. Right? So, like my husband, for example, he’s grown up in Australia, he hasn’t lived anywhere else. He speaks one language. His life. And his thinking has definitely changed a lot since he met me and mine as well since I met him because we are so different, we point out things in each other’s lives that we would just gloss over because that’s just so normal.

[00:45:38] Whereas when they, when someone else points it out, you realize, oh actually, no, I am unique. I didn’t realize that. and then with the additional of our daughter, it’s even better the same at work. Right. And I find, instead of finding. Differences jarring, like instead of thinking, oh my God, I don’t believe in Jesus.

[00:45:57] And he thinks it’s someone Jesus’ son of God. It’s just more fun to kind of read the Bible, read the Quran, find the food, find the festivals, and actually find how different our thinking are and perhaps how silly some of our beliefs are or how cool some, something in someone else’s belief is, and therefore become a better person myself, because I can let go of some of the deep rooted traditions or beliefs that are subconsciously had that perhaps weren’t the best I can proactively take on something better from someone else’s culture become better person for it.

[00:46:39] Definitely have better work output at work because there’s multiple different people thinking that. So, I am so much for. Embracing diversity and really letting people be, but learning from all of that.

[00:46:55] Jeffery Wang: Agreed. And I think there is a fine line between, being open minded as what you described to some of the more cynical diversity practices today, where literally we’re intolerant towards people with different views.

[00:47:11] Yes. And I think important that we seek to understand before being understood and that, we embrace difference and you know, it is will, it will be uncomfortable. Because it is uncomfortable to have your assumptions and beliefs challenged, but at the same time, it takes a very open minded individual to understand that you’d be richer for having yeah.

[00:47:32] These different diverse perspectives. So, thanks for sharing that.

[00:47:36] Lesson 8:   Bias is all around us. Recognise it, challenge it, break it

[00:47:36] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. Lesson’s number eight. Bias is all around us. Recognize it, challenge it, break it.

[00:47:41] Baishakhi Connor: This is like took me almost my entire life till now to get to this. But because in my life I’ve kind of moved further and further away from where I was born into.

[00:47:57] I think I see this more and more like, I’m more like it’s just more visible to me. So, I was obviously born as a girl child in a very small town in India. It was, there was this whole sense of when I was a second child. So, my sister was already born by then. And everyone was so sorry for my parents. People actually told me like they don’t even pull back or anything.

[00:48:19] They actually told me, oh my God, like your parents so sad, they don’t have a son. So, it started then. But whether it was when they sent me to the best schools and my sister, and they said, oh my God, you are spending so much on your daughters. When I went away to work. And then I went to another country for work, they thought, oh that’s like the end of the world.

[00:48:38] They’re like sending their single daughter away. And that’s the end of the world up until like, even to now, right in Australia. I’m a, I’m from a different culture. I look different. My name’s a bit unpronounceable to some people. definitely like, like I said, it took me a year to find a job here. And one of the reasons was people blatantly said, but you don’t have local experience.

[00:49:00] I changed my surname to my husband’s surname, which is Connor from my very Indian one. And the number of things. Number of call-backs, I had immediately increased. So, there’s been a lots and lots of different kinds of bias in my life. And one way people deal with it is to say, I am the victim and therefore cry about all the dis privileges you have.

[00:49:26] And you go, you know, I’m a brown woman in a white country, or, you know, I’m speaking in a foreign language. I actually think in my own language, even though I’m thinking in my own language and translating to English all the time, and I could say this, these are all the underprivileged things I have and kind of worry about it or more about it, but there’s no privilege that is absolute, right.

[00:49:52] So I, I am biased against, but also, I am privileged in many other ways. So, I am a woman, but I’m also a straight cisgendered woman and have had no other issues or no other dis privileges in the gender area. I was the poor kind of poor country bumpkin at my posh boarding school, but I did go to a posh boarding school, which is a privilege in itself.

[00:50:20] And I am whatever, culturally and linguistically diverse in Australia. But like I said before I was born into a privileged caste in India. So, there is always some privilege in your own life. And again, when I have talked about this before somewhere, I think I’ve written about it and people say, oh, so you’re calling me privileged.

[00:50:43] You know, how hard I had to work for everything. And that’s got nothing to do with it. It’s just the acknowledgement that everyone has had. Some privilege in their life. And everyone has had some dis privilege in their life and we are all the way our brain works is to stereotype people. That’s just how it works.

[00:51:06] So if you see a little child on the road on their own, your brain works to say that is not a safe situation. Let me check on what’s happening.

[00:51:16] Jeffery Wang: Yep.

[00:51:16] Baishakhi Connor: And sometimes those stereotypes are just based on these collective privilege or dis privilege. So, when you see a person of a certain status, et cetera, you do all this respect things.

[00:51:31] And when you see a person who’s very different to you, your brain just collectively just disregards that. And that happens all the time. And it is important that we acknowledge it. It is important that we acknowledge that A we are all privileged in some sense. And B we definitely are biased about some else in some way.

[00:51:52] Sometimes we are all it just does not happen that we are all we, none of us are unbiased.

[00:52:00] Jeffery Wang: So, Two things I’m hearing from this lesson, right? One, one is that you need to increase the awareness of these biases, because everything is inherently and exists.

[00:52:11] But the second thing and probably more, the more important thing I’m hearing is that we should not adopt them victim mentality just because there are certain diss in my life, you know, and being aware of certain privileges in your life is also just as important as you are alluding to before.

[00:52:28] Gratitude, you know, is focus about focusing on those things, what will lead to that? And in fact, it’s a very empowering thing, to acknowledge that you do have certain privileges now I’m like you, you know, being linguistically diverse, being from a minority ethnic background, but I’m also from a privileged upbringing, you know, from a family that has the financial capacity to choose the country that we want to live in.

[00:52:57] And, you know, I’ve had a world class education, and because of that, I’ve got the opportunities afforded to me that, you know, otherwise I would not be able to have. And that is so important, but, and this is what I’m seeing in the world today. There is a whole lot of people out there preaching this victim mentality.

[00:53:16] How do you overcome that?

[00:53:18] Baishakhi Connor: I think in two ways, the first one, like you said, and connected to my earlier one as well is become aware of your own privilege. And there is something like, believe me, there is something or the other and focus on that instead. So yes, life may be hard because of A, B and C, but life is easier because of this.

[00:53:40] So yes, life is hard because I am of a diverse culture versus most of this country, but life is good because I’ve had a great education and I am smart, and I am just neurotypical. There are so many things that I’m privileged about. So, then my mindset shifts more to think of the good things I have.

[00:54:04] And then definitely this is on all of us when we have a privilege. Or especially when we have fought against dis privilege to come out the other way, a little bit, it is our duty to now help break the bias against that. So, if I have come from where I’ve come from, whether it’s the financial background or the place or the culture that I’ve come from, I now consider it my duty to mentor other Indians and other non-Australians that are new to Australia who would struggle with that local experience piece.

[00:54:43] It is now my duty to bring up awareness in my own organization that this talent pool is out there, and we must bring them in, it’s my duty to kind of raise awareness through writing and other things to give people that, like I said, it starts with belief, give people that belief. It is possible. I think it’s our duty.

[00:55:04] To break that bias when we are in a position to do so, both there’s an individual element to it, but there’s definitely a being kind of duty towards society element to it as well.

[00:55:16] Jeffery Wang: And that is exactly the reason why we’re having this conversation today and sharing this wisdom. So, thank you very much.

[00:55:22] Lesson 9:   Let the iron teach you    

[00:55:22] Jeffery Wang: So, lesson number nine, and this sounds like you are a very strict parent and disciplining your kids, you know, but maybe I’ve picked this wrong, but lesson number nine, you say, let the iron teach you. Now as a child, I was smacked with a bamboo stick. But iron’s a bit much, isn’t it?

[00:55:43] Baishakhi Connor: oh my God. It does sound like the strict Asian and Indian parents. I had the cane a lot of times too, but this is iron of a different kind. So, I think again, like you said, in my introduction I’m I have, just started taking baby steps or maybe flexing my muscles into the world of power lifting.

[00:56:04] So I am talking of the iron bar of power lifting, but ah definitely not iron for the kids at all. I think both our cultures are moving away from the canes and bamboos as well. So, let’s not take up iron for the kids, but you know, I, I’ve always been, attracted to fascinated by the idea of doing something, new all the time.

[00:56:28] But once I came to Australia where it’s quite different from India, so in India, everything was about just, study than work, and eat a lot, enjoy life. Otherwise here, a lot of people are quite fit. Like it was quite new to me as an Indian to come here to see the number of people that cycle at even ages where in India, it would be considered like there are 60-year old’s and 70-year old’s that bike around quite a lot. There are people who run, swim, et cetera. So, I took up more and more fitness once I came to Australia, first of all, so I started running, I learned swimming in my thirties.

[00:57:06] but this year it was kind of, it was triggered because my mom tells a long story. I’ll kind of show my mom was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis around my age. So, in her forties, while quite young, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. It had gotten quite bad and in her fifties she could barely move.

[00:57:24] And that it only changed once she found a doctor who told her actually movement and exercises, what would actually fix it, whereas back in India was the other way route. And once she did visit me in Australia, she started doing resistance exercises a bit more. And that even improved her situation. So, I’ve kind of come from that mindset and thinking I’ll prevent that.

[00:57:45] So during COVID I thought, okay, I’ll start doing a few more kind of resistance exercises, but I was scared to look at anything beyond, I don’t know, the two or three kilo dumbbells. That was my limit. And I’m like, that’s it’s heavy enough. That’ll do. But today I think just yesterday I was deadlift 55 kilograms.

[00:58:10] Jeffery Wang: Well, done.

[00:58:10] Baishakhi Connor: And I’ve got a goal this year to get to 65.

[00:58:14] And this has taught me such a lot to a situation where when you have this heavy thing on your back and you have to either sit right down in a squat and push back up against it, or you have to really lift that up off the floor. That in itself teaches you so much. You have to be disciplined.

[00:58:39] It is not going to just magically go from two kilos to 50 or 60, just like that. You have to work at it. This is the first year that I have been, consistently working out at least three times a week, if not more, because without that, it won’t happen just will not happen. You have to be patient because again, you can’t like discipline doesn’t mean I will just try to lift 50 just in one go because I will break my back.

[00:59:08] So there’s always that fear of injury and you have to do it right, et cetera. So, you have to be really patient with it. And you have to, again, Challenge the stereotype in your mind challenge the ceilings in your own mind? I had to challenge the fact like my mind told me don’t walk up to the bigger barbell area, because what if you can’t even lift it or there’s all these, you know, big mussy tattooed gym bro, around

[00:59:43] And just the fact that, you know, I have to pull up the bench to under the bar and then set it up. It was intimidating for me. And I had to fight against that intimidation, to even step up to the bar. And I think now when I step up to the bar, I know I have challenged that stereotype of the woman and the Indian woman that I’m meant to be like, there is no way anyone back in my small town would say you would run 10 kilometres.

[01:00:11] Like, why would you? And when I tell them, you know, you could go from this place that they recognized at this other place and they go, what you run that much, or what do you mean? You lift that much weight for nothing. Like they would lift it obviously for practical reasons if they have to shop or something.

[01:00:27] but not otherwise. But the patients, the discipline, the humility, even that if you don’t put in the work, there is no way that bar will go up. It will not go up. It will just fall back down to the floor or on your back. So that the patience, the discipline, the humility, but most of all, that challenging that stereotype of myself challenging the ceiling I had in myself.

[01:00:54] Is a big lesson that the bar has taught me.

[01:00:58] Jeffery Wang: And, you know, this just goes on to show that you don’t fit neatly into any boxes ever, you know, breaking stereotype is just what you do, but you make a really good point. You know what you’ll learn through, the process of exercising, the discipline that these are important, life lessons, you know, these are the sort of things that I would strongly encourage my children to learn early in their life, as it will help them to overcome these limiting self-beliefs.

[01:01:23] So really valuable lesson.

[01:01:26] Lesson 10: Give it time, let tears morph into memories

[01:01:26] Jeffery Wang: Lastly, lesson number 10, give it time that tears morph into memories. Now, this sounds very profound, and I dare say probably there’s another story behind this.

[01:01:38] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah, it was part of that hard part of my life when I lost dad and me. I still remember that day.

[01:01:46] It was a Monday morning. It was like 10 or 10:30 AM. In fact, probably between 10 and 10 30. I was in a team meeting. So, I was with my team. I’m the team lead. And I was just doing a normal Monday morning what’s on for this week. And my phone is always kind of face down because I don’t want to look at it, et cetera.

[01:02:03] And it, it buzzed, and I don’t usually do this, but something in me nagged in me to just look at it and I absolutely don’t do it normally. And there was just two words on there and it said like it’s in Bengali. So, my mom had texted me to say Bābā nē’i and Bābā nē’i means dad’s no more. And that’s it.

[01:02:22] It was just two words. But that two words definitely like completely divided my life into two halves. It was a before that text and after that text and life was never the same. And I remember, I, I literally walked out of that meeting. Like I didn’t tell anyone, I didn’t talk to her. I just walked out, and I called mom, and I just told her, yeah, I’ll come.

[01:02:46] I’m coming right now. And, but I had, I, I didn’t even know how to process it. Right. So, as I walked out, I talked to a friend of mine who was sitting there, and she called my husband, and she organized flights back home. And she did everything basically. Like she got my bags back from work. I didn’t even remember if there were things to take.

[01:03:07] So I, I did nothing but that the finality of death, it’s just something it’s just such a hard lesson to learn in life that there is nothing you can do. You can’t ask for just one more minute, just one con, just one bite. can I just talk to him once. There is just nothing. There is nothing reversible about it.

[01:03:30] It is completely an utterly. Irreversible. It is just final. It just happens. And that’s it. And I know at the time, like, you know how everyone says, give it time, it’ll heal. And that’s just the thing you say. It’s like, you’ve been through a hard time. Just give it some time. And for anyone, anyone listening in, if you’ve lost a parent or worse, if you’ve lost a partner, definitely worse.

[01:03:56] If you’ve lost a child, it’s been more than five years, almost six years now, since I lost dad, I can’t say that time heals time does not just make it go away. There’s always going to be that hole in your life. There’s always going to be that scar. And sometimes it will reopen. And for me sometimes it’s something just so trivial.

[01:04:19] Like sometimes I’ll see this, someone wearing a watch that. black on a white dial and dad used to wear that and I’ll just be teary again for no reason, except that watch made me think of dad or I’ll sit here and in, in our house now I can just see there’s a toy train called puffing, Billy, that goes right past my house and I’ll sit and watch that.

[01:04:42] And my dad would love watching trains. He hasn’t seen this new house and I can almost see like, you know, the other week I was literally like sitting there. And it was just as if it was real. I imagined him sitting there sipping on his tea and slurping on it. He would always slurp on his tea with the sound.

[01:05:03] And I could almost hear him just turning to my mom and saying, you know, oh, could you imagine we would sit in a house like this and watch the train just like this. And it kind of happens. And I felt. I felt that hole again. I felt that scar again, but it was such a beautiful moment. See, it wasn’t like the day of or the day after where I felt like a zombie and nothing worked, it almost felt beautiful.

[01:05:35] It was like all the memories of him wrapped me in this warm embrace. It wasn’t the same as if he was just there, but it was still just beautiful. And I think there’s always someone, if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, and even if you’re grieving the loss, and I say this on behalf of all my friends in infertility, people don’t understand, you do grieve the loss of a dream grieve, the loss of a child that could have been, or if you’re grieving the loss of someone who has been give it time, like everyone else says.

[01:06:12] It will not heal, but one day your tears will morph. They will morph into these beautiful memories that are just warm and fuzzy and beautiful.

[01:06:23] Jeffery Wang: Wow. Thanks for sharing that very beautiful and powerful story. Thank you for that. it reminds me of another lesson that we’ve heard before and that was, this too shall pass.

[01:06:36] You know, it doesn’t matter what it is, you know, when you are doing well in your life. Yeah. Or when you’re at a low point in your life, time will change everything. So, thanks for that.

[01:06:46] Well, we’ll finish on that note. You’ve been listening to 10 lessons learned where we dispense wisdom for career business and life.

[01:06:56] Our guest today has been Baishakhi Connor sharing the 10 lessons that took her a long time to learn. This episode is produced by Robert Hossary and sponsored by the Professional Development Forum. Don’t forget to leave us a review or comment. You can even email us at podcast 10 lessons. learn.com that’s podcast at number one zero lessons.

[01:07:16] learn.com. Go ahead and hit that subscribe button so that you don’t miss an episode of the only podcast that make the world a little wiser lesson by lesson. Thanks for listening and stay safe. Everyone.

 This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. Sponsored as always by Professional Development Forum, which office insights, community or discussions, podcasts, parties, anything you want here, but they’re unique and it’s all free online. You can find the www.professionaldevelopmentforum.org you’ve heard from us we’d like to hear from you. Email us it’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com. Remember, this is the podcast the only podcast. That’s makes the world wiser lesson by lesson.

 
Baishakhi Connor

Baishakhi Connor – Workaholism is an addiction, don’t wear it as a badge of honour

Baishakhi Connor explains how " It all starts with belief", why you should "Chase your dreams, but don’t become captive to them" and that "Things happen, it isn’t the end of the world" along with more great lessons. Hosted by Jeffery Wang

About Baishakhi Connor

When Baishakhi was 8, she wanted to be the President of the United States. Growing up in a tiny Indian town on a healthy dose of fiction, anything seemed possible. At 12, she realised a one-way flight to US cost many years of their household income! Presidency dreams were replaced by a search for ways to explore the world from near-poverty-line status.

From her tiny town start in life, Baishakhi has gone on to carve a diverse career spanning four continents. Now in her 40s, she continues to stretch her boundaries in ways she could never have imagined at 8. She has a senior management role in one of Australia’s largest retailers. She joined her first Board role last year. She volunteers. She mentors. She writes. She speaks. She makes time to learn new things, currently flexing her muscles into Powerlifting.

Baishakhi lives in a tri-cultural tri-religious family with her Australian Catholic husband and Afghan Muslim foster daughter. As foster mum of 1, step mum of 4 and step grand mum of 4 (and a ½), her life is a busy blur of family, fun and food.

Episode Notes

Lesson 1: It all starts with belief 02:25
Lesson 2: Workaholism is an addiction, don’t wear it as a badge of honour 09:19
Lesson 3: Things happen, it isn’t the end of the world 19:26
Lesson 4: Learn the known way, they find your OWN way 24:22
Lesson 5: Chase your dreams, but don’t become captive to them 30:59
Lesson 6: Reframe your thinking, count your blessings 37:12
Lesson 7: Embrace the differences, learn from them 40:01
Lesson 8: Bias is all around us. Recognise it, challenge it, break it 47:36
Lesson 9: Let the iron teach you 55:22
Lesson 10: Give it time, let tears morph into memories 1:01:26

Baishakhi Connor – Workaholism is an addiction, don’t wear it as a badge of honour

[00:00:08] Jeffery Wang: All right. Hello and welcome to the podcast. 10 lessons learned where we dispense wisdom, not just information, not mere facts or not mere platitudes to an international audience of rising leaders. In other words, in this podcast, you’re here valuable insights that you cannot learn from a textbook because it took us years to learn this stuff.

[00:00:27] My name is Jeffrey Wang, the founder of professional development forum and your host today, this podcast is sponsored by the Professional Development Forum, which helps diverse young professionals of any age find fulfillment in the modern workplace. Today we’re joined by Baishakhi Connor before Baishakhi was a senior executive and board director.

[00:00:46] She came from very humble beginnings when Baishakhi was eight growing up in a tiny Indian town on a healthy dose of fiction, anything seen possible she aspired to be the President of the United States, but then she realized that a one-way flight to the US costs many years of their household income. So, the presidency dreams were replaced by a search for ways to explore the world from near poverty line status. From a tiny town. She has gone on to carve an impressive international career, spanning four continents. She’s now in senior management for one of Australia’s largest retailers. And she joined her first board of directors last year’s she volunteers, she mentors, she writes, she speaks.

[00:01:30] She makes time to learn new things. Currently flexing her muscles into power lifting Baishakhi lives in a tri cultural tri religious family with her Australian Catholic husband and Afghan Muslim foster daughter as a foster mom of one stepmom of four and step grandma of four and a half. Her life is a blur of family, fun and food.

[00:01:55] What a life, Baishakhi, needless to say that you’re not someone that fits anywhere neatly into a box

[00:02:03] Baishakhi Connor: yes, that, that I don’t. Yeah, definitely. We are very different from. How I grew up and yes, therefore not quite any box, any one box that can define me, I guess.

[00:02:17] Jeffery Wang: absolutely. So, you know, I sense that you’ve got a fascinating story, which I’m sure will unpack through the 10 lessons that you’ve got to share with us.

[00:02:25] Lesson 1:   It all starts with belief

[00:02:25] Jeffery Wang: So, let’s jump straight into it then. Lesson number one, you said that it all starts with belief.

[00:02:33] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah. Like, you were saying in my introduction, I come from a very small town in India. In fact, like even now on Google maps, you can’t quite see the exact name of where I come from.

[00:02:46] The things we grew up with were very basic. So, we didn’t have phones or fridges or TVs or all the things that we kind of take for granted, I guess, in our lives. Now we didn’t quite have, and we’d be the ones that you might have seen in movies run behind the cars, because it’s just so rare and planes.

[00:03:06] Definitely. It’s just some kind of story you like see in the sky, but definitely never see anyone. Like I did not know anyone who’d done that and to think of it from there are now I live and work in Australia now, but I’ve lived and worked in multiple different countries. And I have a pretty senior position.

[00:03:27] I have a very comfortable life. I can support my parents, but just the difference when I go back there. All of my childhood friends are still there. There’s no, not much change in their lives. Yes. Technology has improved to the extent they have mobile phones, et cetera. So, there’s a bit more in there, but they haven’t moved out of there.

[00:03:46] They have never thought they could have a different life. And I think why I am the only kind of different person started with belief. It was belief that gave me that. First of all, like the belief that a different life is even possible is what started it. Cuz the others thought that is it. You can’t, if you’re born here and if you’re given this, there is a certain amount you can get, but that’s it they kind of had a ceiling in their own mind and belief is what helped me break that ceiling kind of.

[00:04:25] So it started from there.

[00:04:26] Jeffery Wang: And so, get your belief from?

[00:04:30] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah. Yeah, that is an interesting question because belief doesn’t quite come on it, so, and does it, you can’t just say, oh, I just, you know, I’m just this different person that has a belief. I think you have to be curious and yes, once you’re there then luck kind of forms your way.

[00:04:44] So for me, first of all, I had role models and because of my curiosity, I think throughout life, I always look up to role models and take bits and piece of their lives. And for me, role models, aren’t celebrities or someone this phenomenal person somewhere in the world for me, it started with my mother.

[00:05:02] So my mother, started working in her twenties in the 1960s, which was fairly uncommon for people there. So, in India, a small town for a woman to work was uncommon. She then continued to work after she got married and she continued to work after she had my sister and me as well, which even for Australia’s uncommon, let alone like in a tiny Indian town.

[00:05:24] I think that was my first bit of learning that you can push the boundaries of convention. You can do something different. And throughout life, I look up to these various pieces of things that people are doing around me to of get that belief. And then my parents sent me to very kind of, for us, a very posh expensive school.

[00:05:48] In fact, at one stage they were spending 60% of our household income just on my education because I wanted to do something. So, they sent me to this big city to a boarding school. And it was hard being at a boarding school with people, obviously from a very different socioeconomic class. But again, that gave me a window into what life could be.

[00:06:10] And I think that’s like, you could go one of two ways and, many people will go when you see someone with a lot of privilege, let’s say compared to you, you’d go kind of have a victim mentality. I more had. That’s what gives me belief look at them. It is possible to have a different life. And then the last thing again, this curiosity and this sponge mentality coming in is books.

[00:06:33] So my mom introduced both my sister and I to books and just that world. And like you said, I grew up on a very healthy dose of fiction. But I love fiction because it can break the boundaries of what convention is. If you just look at reality around, you kind of think that is it. That is my box. Whereas for me, the box is ever evolving, ever changing, ever breaking.

[00:06:56] Cause I’m just looking at different people, different books, different things. And with that going actually, there’s this other thing beyond what I now see that is possible. That’s what gives the seed of belief for me.

[00:07:10] Jeffery Wang: Absolutely. I can definitely see how important that is. As the first step of, breaking out of, you know, I guess the life that you thought you were destined for, you know, and a lot of us, don’t ever question or challenge, you know, you’re a lot in life, whereas I think, you know, your mother, as an example showed you the way and instil that belief in yourself that you could be anybody that you want.

[00:07:32] I did have a curious thought though. So, I, I hear about India having a caste system, you know, so your future is sort of determined on what you’re born into. Did that have a bearing on, your thoughts or, you know, the way you were treated?

[00:07:48] Baishakhi Connor: So, so on a cast basis, I was actually privileged.

[00:07:52] So I had a lot of dis privilege on you know, finance or where I was born, et cetera, but on a caste basis, I. Just by sheer luck was born into a privileged class. And in fact, for a long time, I did not have enough awareness or maybe acknowledgement of how difficult it can be for some people just because of caste.

[00:08:20] And it’s only recently where I’ve talked to so many other people, there are definitely parts of India, possibly in other countries as well, but definitely parts of India where just because of caste, you’re not even allowed to go to certain schools just because of caste. You’re not even allowed to step into certain places because of caste.

[00:08:40] So I, I have friends who have still broken out of there and that is like belief and determination of an absolutely different kind. So again, possible is definitely possible that if they have the belief they can work and be determined and break out of it. But the barriers put in their way is mind boggling.

[00:09:03] It is true. It is real. It is mind boggling. But it is still possible. It is still possible with belief. And then other things fall in your way to break out of there.

[00:09:14] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. Which goes back to your lesson. It all starts with belief.

[00:09:18] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah.

[00:09:19] Lesson 2:   Workaholism is an addiction, don’t wear it as a badge of honour

[00:09:19] Jeffery Wang: So, let’s move on to lesson number two. Now I’m sensing a great story behind this.

[00:09:24] So you, you say that workaholism is an addiction, not a badge of honor.

[00:09:29] Baishakhi Connor: yeah, this was quite a turnaround for me, actually, as you can hear from my story, it took a lot of hard work for me to kind of move up from where I come from. And I associated therefore a lot of value to hard work and took that as what should be done.

[00:09:47] And it is a badge of honor. And hard work gave me the success I wanted as well. So, whether it was through school and being at the top of the class and then working really hard at work, working in different countries, et cetera, but it was even at work. It was a badge of honor for me to say, I am busy.

[00:10:05] I am working hard. I am working long hours. So, investment banking, when I did investment banking in Hong Kong, I would work 120 hours a week. I would get into work at 8:00 AM and leave at 4:00 AM, but I thought so. I thought that’s a badge of honor. And it took me 16 years before that turned around. And anytime during that 16 years, if you asked me, I would say like, that’s great.

[00:10:33] I am working hard. I am successful. And that’s like honourable thing for. And that’s it. And it took me so long to go and get into my own mind. Okay. That is actually not a badge of honor. It is an addiction. It is an addiction that I need to get out of. And it took me unfortunately like a tragedy in my own life to break out of that.

[00:10:56] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. So, so what happened? What made you trigger the change of mindset?

[00:11:02] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah, it took a fair few things. So, first of all, in, in 2017, I lost my dad, and I was in Australia. He was back in India. So unfortunately, I wasn’t there when he passed away. But I ran over there like any daughter would.

[00:11:19] And I hadn’t changed. I still had my laptop with me and my work with me. And in between doing the things. There’s a lot of rituals in India that you have to do when your, family member passes away. But in between doing things, I was still working. It was still in my mind; it was still my badge of honour.

[00:11:39] So no matter what hardship in life comes in, it was still my badge of honor. And I remember at his wake, when people are literally in the house, there’s like maybe a hundred people through the house. There’s a priest, there’s things happening. And someone’s texting me or calling me from Australia about work.

[00:11:55] I don’t even remember what work that was, which shows you how unimportant it actually is, but I was typing away and doing something in between there. And if people questioned it and I don’t even think people questioned it that much, because it’s a culture of a hard work is just celebrated. And I just kept going.

[00:12:15] What changed actually was when I came back. So, I spent two weeks there doing all the rituals and whatever. When I came back A), I had just gone through a trauma, and I had got like dad’s news on my phone as a text. And I had this almost panic when I heard the phone. Like, I would think something’s happened to mom, because she was the only parent left now.

[00:12:39] So I kind of went through a mental trauma and that obviously caused me to just have to pull back on work a little bit, because work texts were making me panic. Thinking it’s mom or something’s happened. But all of that combined, and it sounds hard, but it’s a blessing in disguise. It’s kind of was leading to an almost burnout where I decided.

[00:13:05] I just need time off. I need to spend time with mom. I don’t know how long she would be around. Thankfully. She’s good. She’s still around. She’s really good. But at that time in the month or two following dad’s death, I thought, oh, I just need time with mom. And because of that, so it was kind of unrelated to work, but because of that, I actually just quit work without anything else to do.

[00:13:28] So I did not have another job lined up. And I talked to my work where I was doing quite well. And I said, I’m sorry, I just need the time off. And I don’t even want a sabbatical because knowing me I’d know that I’d still try and do some hard work through the sabbatical. So, I literally quit work. And then in the months following that was the first ever time in my life that I had nothing.

[00:13:52] I had no structure. I had no school. I had no studies. I had no work. I had no emails. I had nothing. And it was that emptiness. Which then gave me the realization that what I had was an addiction. It’s not a badge of honor. So unfortunately, it wasn’t even quite dad’s death. It was things that followed and the sheer emptiness that came after that brought me to that realization.

[00:14:21] I think many other people say they, they come to it through meditation, which is similar. You kind of empty your mind of everything. And I had never done that. So, I came to it almost forced by life circumstances, but it was that pushing away, all the chaos, pushing away, all the other things in life, giving myself the space to think brought me that clarity eventually.

[00:14:44] Jeffery Wang: So, if I could just poke a little bit further on that addiction element, right? It’s almost like you’re using work as validation. Or using work as a distraction to the emptiness?

[00:14:55] Baishakhi Connor: Yes.

[00:14:56] Jeffery Wang: Was there an underlying reason that you’ve discovered that fuel, that, you know, that addiction, you know, was there a chip on the shoulder?

[00:15:05] Was there something that you had to prove or is just a cultural programming, I suppose, you know, when you’re growing up what made you feel like you need to work hard in order to be, I suppose, worth it?

[00:15:17] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah. Yeah. It’s interesting. I think there’s many factors, I think, yes, there is cultural programming to just hard work.

[00:15:25] There’s cultural programming to, you know, you must do, as your boss says, and you know, you must value the fact that you even have work because culturally many of my family, you know, would be insecure in their job. So, they would just do, but definitely many other things like it would be, would’ve been just in me that I felt I associate an identity with my works. If you ask me who I am, instead of telling you everything else in my life, that I tell you now, I’d say, oh, I am the senior manager in this great company. That’s what I associate my identity with.

[00:16:03] And that’s actually one of the things. And I also, now I have almost a list of things that I do, so I don’t fall back into addiction.

[00:16:10] And I think it’s true for any addiction. Anyone who has been an addict to anything will know you are prone to that, always it kind of, there’s an underlying pattern. And I kind of do a few things now myself to make sure I don’t fall back into that level ever again. So first the first thing is my lesson, like to acknowledge that it is a problem, it’s not a badge of honor.

[00:16:33] And then I use. Language and sentences quite deliberately. I’ll say like, if I say I want to work till 5:00 PM. If I leave at five 30 or six, I call it a late night. Whereas in my workaholic days, I would say, oh, 6:00 PM. It’s like a day off almost because you used to work so late. So, it’s not that I’m, I would never have a 9:00 PM.

[00:16:56] It is rare, but I’d have it because there’s some deadline or something coming up. But I would, in my mind call it’s a very late night, which means you don’t do it every day. And I make sure that the company I work in or the boss I work with does not encourage my addiction and that cultural thing of, you know, I don’t want a culture where just being seen to work, doing the hours is considered the good thing.

[00:17:25] I think that definitely was. Both because of my Indian culture and because of the culture of the types of work I did like investment banking. It’s considered that long hours are good. So, I’m careful of doing that now. I definitely, I am doing more to have identities beyond work and that is really important.

[00:17:45] But I try to do many things outside of work now. So, I can say I am a writer. I am a volunteer, I’m this not-for-profit board member. I am a power lifter.

[00:17:57] Jeffery Wang: And I must say that the profile that you shared with me, the, it was one of the more interesting bios I’ve read, you know, because it referred to your power, lifting it, refer to the volunteering, refer to a. Busy blur or family fun and food. And I think that is a much more exciting and authentic way for your identity than potentially, you know, the role that you play at work. So that definitely is something that a piece of wisdom that I believe a lot of people, should adopt and, you know, ideally earlier in life so that you don’t miss out on life. Yeah. Thanks for that lesson.

[00:18:35] Baishakhi Connor: Absolutely. Yeah. That’s my hope that people listen to this and try to do that from very early in their careers. And, you know, just believe me, there are so many places where you will still thrive in your career and actually you will actually thrive in your career and not despite it’s actually because of your breadth of experience and the mental health and the stability you have because of doing all this, you will actually thrive in your career better.

[00:19:01] Actually, I would’ve done much better if I’d done so much earlier in my career and I had the. The social skills to come into a very different country, right? So, I come from India and now work in western worlds. If I’d done all of this much earlier in my career, arguably I’d have more social skills that I would bring into work

[00:19:22] Jeffery Wang: indeed.

[00:19:22] And you’ll be a much more well-rounded individual.

[00:19:25] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah. Yes.

[00:19:26] Lesson 3:   Things happen, it isn’t the end of the world    

[00:19:26] Jeffery Wang: Let’s move on to lesson number three. This is definitely not a lesson that sounds like it would come from an Asian person. you say shit happens, but it’s, isn’t the end of the world. I like to know the story about this one.

[00:19:41] Baishakhi Connor: definitely, I think Asian engineer we are like such an honour bound culture when shit happens. It is the end of the world for definitely my family would feel that way, but this comes from the time, and this is definitely from the time where my identity was absolutely tied in with work. And it was the day after my honeymoon actually.

[00:20:04] So the day after my honeymoon, I walked into work and I was laid off and it was like, the world had ended for me right then, because like I said before, my identity was with work, and I was in investment banking at the time. And it wasn’t even out of the blue. It wasn’t like, like it was 2008 December. And if anyone remembers there was a peak of the financial crisis, I was in London, I saw Lehman Brothers fall down.

[00:20:28] I knew people in my own company were being laid off. In fact, someone called me, even during my honeymoon, my best friend called me to say, oh, everyone else in your team has been laid off. Even then, I was almost arrogant enough to think every single other person in the team’s been laid off, but I’ll somehow be this, you know, I’m this great person or I’m good enough.

[00:20:50] Why would they lay me off? But anyway, I was laid off. And it wasn’t an easy ride right after as well. So, it was my honeymoon, so I just married an Australian and I moved to Australia, and it took me another full year to find my first job. So that whole year wasn’t great. So, it didn’t quite come to me in the minute that that is not the end of the world.

[00:21:17] I definitely felt like, oh my God, it is absolutely what have I got myself into? And how could this happen to me? I am, I’ve done all this hard work. So, I definitely felt like that’s it, that’s the end. But now in hindsight, and with clarity, I can look back and see the good out of it. And that’s what brought me to this lesson.

[00:21:37] And I now say this to so many other people who go through these tough periods in their life, that you can like, even though it is definitely not going to be easy in the moment. And it may not even be easy right after for some time life kind of has a way of healing itself. So, for me, that’s what gave me the opportunity to move to Australia quicker.

[00:22:04] I was working in Hong Kong; I’d married an Australia and that’s what gave me the opportunity to move quicker. I wouldn’t have done it otherwise. That gave me a little bit of financial benefit from a redundancy, et cetera. So, it did back me up, and it gave me again an opportunity to move out of.

[00:22:23] So while I still remained a workaholic for a while, but at least I moved out of investment banking. So, I just gotten married. I was doing 120-hour weeks. I don’t know how my marriage would’ve been if I did continue that and in a different country. But it did give me a great start to my married life.

[00:22:42] And then. After a year. And once I got my first job in Australia, and then afterwards, I went from strength to strength. And now what is it? 14 years later, it is such a distant memory. It is just a story in my life. It’s this thing I tell people of when I was in London and Lehman Brothers collapsed, I saw these people walking.

[00:23:05] Like, it’s just a story to tell it’s nothing else. So, I think, that there’s these kind of external things that happen in life, where we attach so much meaning to whether we lose an important gain, don’t get a deal, get laid off, don’t get the job you want. You know, these are, these seem hurtful, and these seem kind of things.

[00:23:30] That puts you down in the moment and it seems like, oh my God, that is such a shit moment. That is it. My world’s falling down. But promise you, it is not the end of the world. Life will heal itself and you will find better and better things in life. And every single person, you know, will have a blip in their life one way or the other.

[00:23:51] Jeffery Wang: Exactly. And we spoke about it before as well. You know, it’s about how your work was your identity. And I think it gave you a chance to, broaden, who you were as a person. So that’s definitely a very good, valuable lesson. You know, I think another guest previously said that you will survive, and I think it there’s some truth to that.

[00:24:10] And not only yet, you all survive you will, you know, get back up again and you will be able to find meaning again, and you will thrive. So that’s a very positive lesson. We like to leave with our listeners.

[00:24:22] Lesson 4:   Learn the known way, they find your OWN way

[00:24:22] Jeffery Wang: Lesson number four, learn the old way, then find your own way.

[00:24:28] Baishakhi Connor: yes, this is probably coming from someone who can’t fit into a box.

[00:24:33] when I first came to Melbourne, which is after just when I got laid off, right? So, it wasn’t even the best mental kind of space. But when I just came to Melbourne, I did not have any professional network here. I came here because I’d fallen in love with an Australian. He and his family were the only people I knew and none of them were remotely related to the work I was doing.

[00:25:00] Which was investment banking at the time. And eventually I went into consulting, but that’s not what they would do. So, I had zero network and I applied online like people do. I had very little kind of even call-backs from it. And then I reached out to my alumni network, which is an alumni from, India, by the way.

[00:25:22] But just in the hope that someone from there would be in Australia. And definitely the one or two people I met said, oh, you have to network. And I was quite flummoxed. So just to give you some context. As an Indian who’s gone into good Indian colleges. You never have to look for work. So, I don’t know if people know this India has this concept called placements, which is if you are in a, in one of the elite kind of institutions in India, there’s a week or two or a month where companies come there to recruit you because for a company it’s like a captive talent pool, right.

[00:25:59] And they’ve proven themselves through great entrance exams or whatever. So, all I had to do my entire life was get through these entrance exams, do well in school, the university I was at and that’s it companies come there. So, I. In the first day of the placements, whether it was me in undergrad or postgrad, I just got jobs.

[00:26:20] I had never looked for a job. Then people tell me, oh, you have to network. And I found that concept just so foreign to me and it was foreign. So, there’s these business breakfast, and then people are milling around and then they’re doing small talk. I don’t understand half of the cultural, like if they talk about a TV show that I haven’t grown up with, I’ve got no clue.

[00:26:41] Or they talk about like, some place in Melbourne, you know, have you run around the 10, which is this place in Melbourne that everyone runs because just it’s a nice running track. I didn’t know that. So, I couldn’t get these cultural references. I was awkward. I couldn’t talk to these 20 people that I didn’t know.

[00:27:02] I, I found it so foreign and that’s probably why, or that’s at least one of the reasons why it took me a year to find my first job. and actually, it took me longer, but I did get to my way of networking, like the idea is you just have to know people, right? And coming from India, I’ll tell you, we are curious about people.

[00:27:24] We are just, so we are in each other’s business and each other’s lives like nothing else. And all these old neighbourhood aunties, et cetera, they know everything that goes on in your life. So, I found my own way. So instead of going to these business breakfasts or networking events, let’s say, which I found was very awkward for me.

[00:27:45] I just figured out ways to do one-on-one coffee catchups and I love conversation. I’m curious about the person and I’ve built so many genuine friendships and genuine relationships because of that, who I can now fall back on. So, I no longer go to these big kind of like people tell me, oh, what about this event that let’s say Salesforce is doing? Or this event that some other consulting company is doing. And a thousand people will come there, and you’ll meet so many people. I’m like, it’s a waste of time, me personally, because I am not that kind. I’d rather fine to my one or two or three or four people. And build those four genuine relationships.

[00:28:32] Than hand my card out at a place with a 50 or a hundred or thousand people, because that’s not my way. So, I still have to network. So, I did learn the known or the old way But then I found my own way, leaning into my own cultural strength and my own personal strength, my own way to do it. And I do it in everything.

[00:28:53] I kind of go what is expected, but what is my way of doing it? So, I am comfortable doing it.

[00:29:00] Jeffery Wang: I love that. and you’ve touched at a very good point, right? Networking is a very, Western concept compared to a lot of people who might have not grown up with it. But I guess it, it is also misunderstood as well.

[00:29:12] I think networking as you pointed out, the key here is to create, or build genuine friendships, genuine relationships, the deep, sort of connections that you have with people in order to have you know, the, these meaningful support networks, throughout your life. And I think the way you’ve done it is brilliant.

[00:29:33] And what I’ve found and relating to that, you know, I have a similar method. I remember I struggled with a lot of the networking aspect of my job, you know, being in sales because I don’t enjoy drinking and I just can’t take as much alcohol as all

[00:29:49] Baishakhi Connor: my colleagues. That’s another thing I don’t drink.

[00:29:51] So, it’s not quite an Indian thing, but it’s definitely my subculture that we don’t drink. And again, that was definitely difficult in the starting years where everyone just goes, oh, just have one, or just have this. And it’s. It’s kind of hard and it’s in a loud pub where you can’t even hear each other.

[00:30:08] Yeah. I found that difficult too.

[00:30:10] Jeffery Wang: Well, exactly. So, what I did was, well, you know, you have to find other ways. One way I found was that, you know, through food, like, you know, everyone loves food. We have this, I idea of a Yum Cha club, which you, which is getting people to know that’s.

[00:30:23] The beauty about Yum Cha is, well, first of all, everyone loves Yum Cha. Secondly, you can’t have Yum Cha in a small group, you kind of have to have a big enough for it to be a really decent Yum Cha. So, it was a really cool way, really friendly way of just getting to know all these people. And, you know, that’s how I learned a lot of the tricks of the trade in my industry.

[00:30:42] So, yeah, love that idea, you know, learn the old way and then find your own way. And I think, you know, given our cultural context, that’s incredibly important that we have to find something that works for us, but also at the same time that we can stay authentic to, you know, so that we can build these genuine friendships.

[00:30:59] Lesson 5:   Chase your dreams, but don’t become captive to them

[00:30:59] Jeffery Wang: So, lesson number five, chase your dreams, but don’t become captive to them. What do you mean by that?

[00:31:05] Baishakhi Connor: that actually took me a hard knocking life to get through. So, I’ve always chased dreams, right? Like I said, it’s, for me it started with belief, and I’ve chased that belief with hard work.

[00:31:16] Like I was, I had the steely determination. Worked hard got there. And that’s how my life was. You believe in something, you have that dream, chase it down with hard work and you get it. And that was my, almost my formula in life until it didn’t work. So, I did that for a good 30 years. It worked perfectly whatever I decided, whether it was, you know, what school would I go to?

[00:31:41] What postgrad or whatever country it worked. And then in my thirties for something, seemingly quite normal to have a child actually just didn’t work. And initially for me, I tried, my old formula see was a matter of working hard. So, it was a matter of researching what’s needed and going through the grill of it. Whether it’s rounds and rounds of IVF, I probably did 10 rounds of IV.

[00:32:10] I went at it for 10 years and I did. So many rounds of IVF and everything else, whether it’s acupuncture or, Chinese medicine or meditation, different kinds of food, you should eat, shouldn’t eat. Different kinds of containers you should use or not use because apparently plastic. Anyway, I did so much research and so much hard work and I went at it for 10 years.

[00:32:34] And my husband and I we actually landed in couples therapy in the middle of it because it was just that hard. It was straining our own relationship. But it just did work. But through those 10 years in my head, it was still my dream. And hence, that’s what I needed to do. Like that’s how my brain worked.

[00:32:54] Like I, my dream is to become a mother and all I need to do is keep working at it and I can’t quit. That was what it was. and it took us like having landed in couples therapy and watching my husband almost be in tears and saying, you know, he was fearing. He would lose me as well as not have a baby.

[00:33:19] And yeah. That it was kind of heartbreaking to go through those things. And it took me the full decade and maybe a hundred thousand dollars later where probably kind of pushed a bit by my husband at the start to say, okay, like at least give myself a deadline to say, yeah, that is the end. Like we had just one other embryo left or something and no, we wouldn’t do more after that.

[00:33:47] So at least I gave myself a deadline. As it would happen. I did actually fall pregnant in, in that second, last bit I did fall pregnant and then lost it again at 10 weeks. So, it was oh, really eight years in. So, it was a terrible, terrifying time in my life. But once, once we kind of got to that deadline and still didn’t do, it was probably the first time I actually quit something like that.

[00:34:15] Wasn’t in my genes at all. It was like, you just work hard, and you don’t quit was my mantra. And I quit something. But again, after you let go of that is when things start to happen. So, we just happened to kind of see something probably on TV or someone told us, and we went into this information session for foster care.

[00:34:39] That was never in our plan. Like we never thought we toyed with the idea of adoption, but it is hard. And my husband’s heart wasn’t quite in it. And he, we do have his biological children as well in the mix. And we didn’t want to do that, but foster care was never, even in our vocabulary, we didn’t think of it, but we went to this information session.

[00:35:00] We both kind of liked the idea. There’s a lot of process to it as well. But, once we did that, we’ve been foster carers for maybe five years now, but the girl we have now, she’s been with us for three years. She’s an almost 16-year-old and it has changed. That’s where the lesson kind of came from that I was single minded and completely captive and blinkered in my way of thinking captive to my dreams and going

[00:35:30] this is the one way to lead life. And that is it. Whereby now I’m like, yes, definitely we should work hard believe and chase our dreams, but there is more than one way. There’s always more than one way. And, quitting something for the right reason is actually a good thing. And killing yourself over something that is just your dream, but not reality is a mindset given to us for just such wrong reasons.

[00:36:04] Like, I will be happy when I do this. I will be happy when I get that. It’s such a futile and joyless way of living life.

[00:36:17] Jeffery Wang: Absolutely. Now I was expecting you to give up on when you talked about chasing dreams, I was thinking something along the lines of career, but this definitely was something a lot more, a lot more emotional and powerful.

[00:36:34] So that’s certainly a lesson that I’m sure a lot of our listeners would appreciate you sharing.

[00:36:41] Affiliate Break

[00:36:41] Jeffery Wang: Now let’s take a quick break as we thank our affiliate partner, Audible. Audible is an amazing way to consume 10 lessons learned books and other podcasts, allowing to build a library of knowledge all in one place, you can start your 30-day free trial.

[00:36:54] By going to audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned. With audible, you can find your favourite lesson while at home or on the go once again, that’s audible trial.com/one zero lessons learned all lowercase for a 30-day free trial. The link will be in the show notes below.

[00:37:12] Lesson 6:   Reframe your thinking, count your blessings

[00:37:12] Jeffery Wang: We’re talking to senior executive and board director be Baishakhi Connor today. Lesson number six, reframe your thinking and count your blessings.

[00:37:23] Baishakhi Connor: Yes, again, this is kind of like carrying on from the same time of my life, but now I, apply it to so many other parts. Towards the start of my tenure in fertility journey.

[00:37:36] If someone stopped me and people do this all the time. Right. Or have you got kids? How many kids do you have? And my answer was no, not yet. sometimes I’d go on to explain that my husband has kids, but mostly it was like a, no, I don’t have kids and looking back and we do this in so many other parts of my life, in our lives that, when we are answering questions, we are obviously going, like, that’s our way of thinking, right?

[00:38:00] So our way of thinking is often related to what do I want, what do I still not have etc. Whereas, if you now ask me and not much has changed since then, because like I said, unfortunately, by the end of the 10 years, I was unable to have a biological child. So, in reality, not too much changed, but if you ask me now, Hey, do you have kids?

[00:38:27] And this kind of happened by accident for a start showing that my way of thinking genuinely had changed. But when faced with the same question without missing a beat. I go, yep. I’ve got four step kids and one foster kids still at home and I’ve got four grandkids and then we go into a conversation.

[00:38:47] Oh my God, you don’t look like a grandmother. And, you know, that just gives more kind conversational elements rather than when I would answer. No, not yet. I was definitely thinking of. Oh, my God, I’m going through this IVF. And when is this happening next? That’s what would go into my mind. Whereas now that I’ve genuinely reframed my thinking, I can see how much I actually have in life rather than focus on that one former dream that wasn’t achieved.

[00:39:21] And now you can apply it in many other parts of life, right? So, do you have this job? And it’s like, instead of saying, no, I don’t have that dream job. Why not just reframe to what you do have or what I, the volunteering that I do, the writing that I do and everything else. So, there’s less of comparison in my life.

[00:39:44] Now there’s less of that. I will be happy when I get this in my life. Now, as a result of that,

[00:39:53] Jeffery Wang: I love the point that you just made because it sounds to me like, you know, yes, you reframed your thinking but ultimately, I think it’s more about discovering what truly matters to you in the first place.

[00:40:04] You know, where this idea of having children, wasn’t always necessarily a biological thing, you know, for you was around having this meaningful relationship, this legacy, and, you know, it sounds like you found a profound sense of happiness because you already have these relationships, you know, you have kids because you, because for all I intents and purposes, they are your kids.

[00:40:27] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah. They are my kids. Yeah, absolutely. They are. And I think many other people will do this now through gratitude journals, and they’re kind of the same concept, right? So, if at the end of the day, and you might have had a really horrible day. But you’re forced to think of what is the one thing or the three things that made you happy today?

[00:40:48] Your brain does come up with things it might be, or that coffee I had was lovely or bumped into this person. I had not seen for a long time. and eventually once you do this for a long time, your actions will change. Like I found, and I did gratitude journaling for a good two years. And I found that eventually I would do things like, for example, because bumping into an old friend made me happy one day.

[00:41:16] That weekend, I called someone in London. I hadn’t talked to for years and my actions changed because of the way my thinking was changing. So definitely something like this, whether you kind of do it yourself or use tools like the journals, and there’s so many superb journals out there that gives you prompters for thinking every day.

[00:41:37] And you can find them on the internet as well, or you can do it yourself. And I journal quite a lot myself, but try and focus on what is the little things that made you happy and they add up and they change your life, and they change your own action for the better.

[00:41:53] Jeffery Wang: Absolutely. And this is not the first time we’ve heard this lesson at 10 lessons learned gratitude is the key to happiness, by all counts.

[00:42:01] Lesson 7:   Embrace the differences, learn from them

[00:42:01] Jeffery Wang: So, thanks for sharing that lesson number seven, and I’m sure I’ll get a good story out of here because, this is something that I’m personally very passionate about in the field of diversity. lesson number seven is embrace differences and learn from them.

[00:42:16] Baishakhi Connor: if you think back to where I come from, so in India, and I think a number of people know this, there’s a number of different languages, like too many.

[00:42:24] I think there’s thousands of languages, but even when you take the main kind of. Language families. There’s I think 30 plus official languages in India. There are many religions, there’s kind of many cultures and food, et cetera. And we grew up with that. So, we had holidays for Christmas, for Divali, for Eid and for everything.

[00:42:48] We just knew that. And I didn’t think that much of it back then, in Australia though. And you said it in my introduction, I am from a tri cultural tri religious family. So, I’m Indian Hindu. My husband’s Australian of Maltese background. He’s Roman Catholic. And my daughter, my foster daughter is of Afghan background and Muslim.

[00:43:13] So we’re completely different backgrounds, completely different cultures, completely different religions. And we are getting better and better at diversity. It is strange that it is actually a multicultural nation. But there’s some way to go for diversity. So, in the sense, my daughter goes to a Catholic school, and she is the only Muslim in her school.

[00:43:36] So she’s, probably the only Afghan as well. So, there’s few other non-white kids, but no one else of her culture. And she’s obviously the only Muslim in our house as well. So, I once thought, oh, that’s a fun fact and I’ll write about it. And I wrote about it on LinkedIn and someone. I still remember this comment because I found it so strange.

[00:43:58] Like they said, ah, how do you have a peaceful dinner at home when one of you thinks, Jesus is the son of God. One of you thinks Jesus is a prophet. And one of you doesn’t believe in Jesus. And I know I answered kind of half in jest and there was this whole comment thread that came of it and I’m like, ah, I didn’t even think it matters.

[00:44:17] I thought it more matters whether my husband’s done the dishes that day or not like that’s magical in my life. Like who cares what he thinks about Jesus or whether I don’t, I kind of feel like I have such a fun family because I can go and have Maltese food with my husband’s family. Many of them have married Italians or Macedonians, and I can have that food.

[00:44:40] For Eid we kind of make things with my daughter and she is a fabulous cook herself. She’s only 15, almost 16 now, but she’s a fabulous cook herself. And we have all this Afghan food for our Bengali festivals. I come from Bengal and India, and we have all of that. I find like, just so much sheer joy out of all of this, like, oh, I have multiple festivals and I have multiple food.

[00:45:04] I kind of find. Joy in diversity, but I also find definitely at home also at work diversity really brings diverse thinking into our lives. Right? So, like my husband, for example, he’s grown up in Australia, he hasn’t lived anywhere else. He speaks one language. His life. And his thinking has definitely changed a lot since he met me and mine as well since I met him because we are so different, we point out things in each other’s lives that we would just gloss over because that’s just so normal.

[00:45:38] Whereas when they, when someone else points it out, you realize, oh actually, no, I am unique. I didn’t realize that. and then with the additional of our daughter, it’s even better the same at work. Right. And I find, instead of finding. Differences jarring, like instead of thinking, oh my God, I don’t believe in Jesus.

[00:45:57] And he thinks it’s someone Jesus’ son of God. It’s just more fun to kind of read the Bible, read the Quran, find the food, find the festivals, and actually find how different our thinking are and perhaps how silly some of our beliefs are or how cool some, something in someone else’s belief is, and therefore become a better person myself, because I can let go of some of the deep rooted traditions or beliefs that are subconsciously had that perhaps weren’t the best I can proactively take on something better from someone else’s culture become better person for it.

[00:46:39] Definitely have better work output at work because there’s multiple different people thinking that. So, I am so much for. Embracing diversity and really letting people be, but learning from all of that.

[00:46:55] Jeffery Wang: Agreed. And I think there is a fine line between, being open minded as what you described to some of the more cynical diversity practices today, where literally we’re intolerant towards people with different views.

[00:47:11] Yes. And I think important that we seek to understand before being understood and that, we embrace difference and you know, it is will, it will be uncomfortable. Because it is uncomfortable to have your assumptions and beliefs challenged, but at the same time, it takes a very open minded individual to understand that you’d be richer for having yeah.

[00:47:32] These different diverse perspectives. So, thanks for sharing that.

[00:47:36] Lesson 8:   Bias is all around us. Recognise it, challenge it, break it

[00:47:36] Jeffery Wang: Yeah. Lesson’s number eight. Bias is all around us. Recognize it, challenge it, break it.

[00:47:41] Baishakhi Connor: This is like took me almost my entire life till now to get to this. But because in my life I’ve kind of moved further and further away from where I was born into.

[00:47:57] I think I see this more and more like, I’m more like it’s just more visible to me. So, I was obviously born as a girl child in a very small town in India. It was, there was this whole sense of when I was a second child. So, my sister was already born by then. And everyone was so sorry for my parents. People actually told me like they don’t even pull back or anything.

[00:48:19] They actually told me, oh my God, like your parents so sad, they don’t have a son. So, it started then. But whether it was when they sent me to the best schools and my sister, and they said, oh my God, you are spending so much on your daughters. When I went away to work. And then I went to another country for work, they thought, oh that’s like the end of the world.

[00:48:38] They’re like sending their single daughter away. And that’s the end of the world up until like, even to now, right in Australia. I’m a, I’m from a different culture. I look different. My name’s a bit unpronounceable to some people. definitely like, like I said, it took me a year to find a job here. And one of the reasons was people blatantly said, but you don’t have local experience.

[00:49:00] I changed my surname to my husband’s surname, which is Connor from my very Indian one. And the number of things. Number of call-backs, I had immediately increased. So, there’s been a lots and lots of different kinds of bias in my life. And one way people deal with it is to say, I am the victim and therefore cry about all the dis privileges you have.

[00:49:26] And you go, you know, I’m a brown woman in a white country, or, you know, I’m speaking in a foreign language. I actually think in my own language, even though I’m thinking in my own language and translating to English all the time, and I could say this, these are all the underprivileged things I have and kind of worry about it or more about it, but there’s no privilege that is absolute, right.

[00:49:52] So I, I am biased against, but also, I am privileged in many other ways. So, I am a woman, but I’m also a straight cisgendered woman and have had no other issues or no other dis privileges in the gender area. I was the poor kind of poor country bumpkin at my posh boarding school, but I did go to a posh boarding school, which is a privilege in itself.

[00:50:20] And I am whatever, culturally and linguistically diverse in Australia. But like I said before I was born into a privileged caste in India. So, there is always some privilege in your own life. And again, when I have talked about this before somewhere, I think I’ve written about it and people say, oh, so you’re calling me privileged.

[00:50:43] You know, how hard I had to work for everything. And that’s got nothing to do with it. It’s just the acknowledgement that everyone has had. Some privilege in their life. And everyone has had some dis privilege in their life and we are all the way our brain works is to stereotype people. That’s just how it works.

[00:51:06] So if you see a little child on the road on their own, your brain works to say that is not a safe situation. Let me check on what’s happening.

[00:51:16] Jeffery Wang: Yep.

[00:51:16] Baishakhi Connor: And sometimes those stereotypes are just based on these collective privilege or dis privilege. So, when you see a person of a certain status, et cetera, you do all this respect things.

[00:51:31] And when you see a person who’s very different to you, your brain just collectively just disregards that. And that happens all the time. And it is important that we acknowledge it. It is important that we acknowledge that A we are all privileged in some sense. And B we definitely are biased about some else in some way.

[00:51:52] Sometimes we are all it just does not happen that we are all we, none of us are unbiased.

[00:52:00] Jeffery Wang: So, Two things I’m hearing from this lesson, right? One, one is that you need to increase the awareness of these biases, because everything is inherently and exists.

[00:52:11] But the second thing and probably more, the more important thing I’m hearing is that we should not adopt them victim mentality just because there are certain diss in my life, you know, and being aware of certain privileges in your life is also just as important as you are alluding to before.

[00:52:28] Gratitude, you know, is focus about focusing on those things, what will lead to that? And in fact, it’s a very empowering thing, to acknowledge that you do have certain privileges now I’m like you, you know, being linguistically diverse, being from a minority ethnic background, but I’m also from a privileged upbringing, you know, from a family that has the financial capacity to choose the country that we want to live in.

[00:52:57] And, you know, I’ve had a world class education, and because of that, I’ve got the opportunities afforded to me that, you know, otherwise I would not be able to have. And that is so important, but, and this is what I’m seeing in the world today. There is a whole lot of people out there preaching this victim mentality.

[00:53:16] How do you overcome that?

[00:53:18] Baishakhi Connor: I think in two ways, the first one, like you said, and connected to my earlier one as well is become aware of your own privilege. And there is something like, believe me, there is something or the other and focus on that instead. So yes, life may be hard because of A, B and C, but life is easier because of this.

[00:53:40] So yes, life is hard because I am of a diverse culture versus most of this country, but life is good because I’ve had a great education and I am smart, and I am just neurotypical. There are so many things that I’m privileged about. So, then my mindset shifts more to think of the good things I have.

[00:54:04] And then definitely this is on all of us when we have a privilege. Or especially when we have fought against dis privilege to come out the other way, a little bit, it is our duty to now help break the bias against that. So, if I have come from where I’ve come from, whether it’s the financial background or the place or the culture that I’ve come from, I now consider it my duty to mentor other Indians and other non-Australians that are new to Australia who would struggle with that local experience piece.

[00:54:43] It is now my duty to bring up awareness in my own organization that this talent pool is out there, and we must bring them in, it’s my duty to kind of raise awareness through writing and other things to give people that, like I said, it starts with belief, give people that belief. It is possible. I think it’s our duty.

[00:55:04] To break that bias when we are in a position to do so, both there’s an individual element to it, but there’s definitely a being kind of duty towards society element to it as well.

[00:55:16] Jeffery Wang: And that is exactly the reason why we’re having this conversation today and sharing this wisdom. So, thank you very much.

[00:55:22] Lesson 9:   Let the iron teach you    

[00:55:22] Jeffery Wang: So, lesson number nine, and this sounds like you are a very strict parent and disciplining your kids, you know, but maybe I’ve picked this wrong, but lesson number nine, you say, let the iron teach you. Now as a child, I was smacked with a bamboo stick. But iron’s a bit much, isn’t it?

[00:55:43] Baishakhi Connor: oh my God. It does sound like the strict Asian and Indian parents. I had the cane a lot of times too, but this is iron of a different kind. So, I think again, like you said, in my introduction I’m I have, just started taking baby steps or maybe flexing my muscles into the world of power lifting.

[00:56:04] So I am talking of the iron bar of power lifting, but ah definitely not iron for the kids at all. I think both our cultures are moving away from the canes and bamboos as well. So, let’s not take up iron for the kids, but you know, I, I’ve always been, attracted to fascinated by the idea of doing something, new all the time.

[00:56:28] But once I came to Australia where it’s quite different from India, so in India, everything was about just, study than work, and eat a lot, enjoy life. Otherwise here, a lot of people are quite fit. Like it was quite new to me as an Indian to come here to see the number of people that cycle at even ages where in India, it would be considered like there are 60-year old’s and 70-year old’s that bike around quite a lot. There are people who run, swim, et cetera. So, I took up more and more fitness once I came to Australia, first of all, so I started running, I learned swimming in my thirties.

[00:57:06] but this year it was kind of, it was triggered because my mom tells a long story. I’ll kind of show my mom was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis around my age. So, in her forties, while quite young, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. It had gotten quite bad and in her fifties she could barely move.

[00:57:24] And that it only changed once she found a doctor who told her actually movement and exercises, what would actually fix it, whereas back in India was the other way route. And once she did visit me in Australia, she started doing resistance exercises a bit more. And that even improved her situation. So, I’ve kind of come from that mindset and thinking I’ll prevent that.

[00:57:45] So during COVID I thought, okay, I’ll start doing a few more kind of resistance exercises, but I was scared to look at anything beyond, I don’t know, the two or three kilo dumbbells. That was my limit. And I’m like, that’s it’s heavy enough. That’ll do. But today I think just yesterday I was deadlift 55 kilograms.

[00:58:10] Jeffery Wang: Well, done.

[00:58:10] Baishakhi Connor: And I’ve got a goal this year to get to 65.

[00:58:14] And this has taught me such a lot to a situation where when you have this heavy thing on your back and you have to either sit right down in a squat and push back up against it, or you have to really lift that up off the floor. That in itself teaches you so much. You have to be disciplined.

[00:58:39] It is not going to just magically go from two kilos to 50 or 60, just like that. You have to work at it. This is the first year that I have been, consistently working out at least three times a week, if not more, because without that, it won’t happen just will not happen. You have to be patient because again, you can’t like discipline doesn’t mean I will just try to lift 50 just in one go because I will break my back.

[00:59:08] So there’s always that fear of injury and you have to do it right, et cetera. So, you have to be really patient with it. And you have to, again, Challenge the stereotype in your mind challenge the ceilings in your own mind? I had to challenge the fact like my mind told me don’t walk up to the bigger barbell area, because what if you can’t even lift it or there’s all these, you know, big mussy tattooed gym bro, around

[00:59:43] And just the fact that, you know, I have to pull up the bench to under the bar and then set it up. It was intimidating for me. And I had to fight against that intimidation, to even step up to the bar. And I think now when I step up to the bar, I know I have challenged that stereotype of the woman and the Indian woman that I’m meant to be like, there is no way anyone back in my small town would say you would run 10 kilometres.

[01:00:11] Like, why would you? And when I tell them, you know, you could go from this place that they recognized at this other place and they go, what you run that much, or what do you mean? You lift that much weight for nothing. Like they would lift it obviously for practical reasons if they have to shop or something.

[01:00:27] but not otherwise. But the patients, the discipline, the humility, even that if you don’t put in the work, there is no way that bar will go up. It will not go up. It will just fall back down to the floor or on your back. So that the patience, the discipline, the humility, but most of all, that challenging that stereotype of myself challenging the ceiling I had in myself.

[01:00:54] Is a big lesson that the bar has taught me.

[01:00:58] Jeffery Wang: And, you know, this just goes on to show that you don’t fit neatly into any boxes ever, you know, breaking stereotype is just what you do, but you make a really good point. You know what you’ll learn through, the process of exercising, the discipline that these are important, life lessons, you know, these are the sort of things that I would strongly encourage my children to learn early in their life, as it will help them to overcome these limiting self-beliefs.

[01:01:23] So really valuable lesson.

[01:01:26] Lesson 10: Give it time, let tears morph into memories

[01:01:26] Jeffery Wang: Lastly, lesson number 10, give it time that tears morph into memories. Now, this sounds very profound, and I dare say probably there’s another story behind this.

[01:01:38] Baishakhi Connor: Yeah, it was part of that hard part of my life when I lost dad and me. I still remember that day.

[01:01:46] It was a Monday morning. It was like 10 or 10:30 AM. In fact, probably between 10 and 10 30. I was in a team meeting. So, I was with my team. I’m the team lead. And I was just doing a normal Monday morning what’s on for this week. And my phone is always kind of face down because I don’t want to look at it, et cetera.

[01:02:03] And it, it buzzed, and I don’t usually do this, but something in me nagged in me to just look at it and I absolutely don’t do it normally. And there was just two words on there and it said like it’s in Bengali. So, my mom had texted me to say Bābā nē’i and Bābā nē’i means dad’s no more. And that’s it.

[01:02:22] It was just two words. But that two words definitely like completely divided my life into two halves. It was a before that text and after that text and life was never the same. And I remember, I, I literally walked out of that meeting. Like I didn’t tell anyone, I didn’t talk to her. I just walked out, and I called mom, and I just told her, yeah, I’ll come.

[01:02:46] I’m coming right now. And, but I had, I, I didn’t even know how to process it. Right. So, as I walked out, I talked to a friend of mine who was sitting there, and she called my husband, and she organized flights back home. And she did everything basically. Like she got my bags back from work. I didn’t even remember if there were things to take.

[01:03:07] So I, I did nothing but that the finality of death, it’s just something it’s just such a hard lesson to learn in life that there is nothing you can do. You can’t ask for just one more minute, just one con, just one bite. can I just talk to him once. There is just nothing. There is nothing reversible about it.

[01:03:30] It is completely an utterly. Irreversible. It is just final. It just happens. And that’s it. And I know at the time, like, you know how everyone says, give it time, it’ll heal. And that’s just the thing you say. It’s like, you’ve been through a hard time. Just give it some time. And for anyone, anyone listening in, if you’ve lost a parent or worse, if you’ve lost a partner, definitely worse.

[01:03:56] If you’ve lost a child, it’s been more than five years, almost six years now, since I lost dad, I can’t say that time heals time does not just make it go away. There’s always going to be that hole in your life. There’s always going to be that scar. And sometimes it will reopen. And for me sometimes it’s something just so trivial.

[01:04:19] Like sometimes I’ll see this, someone wearing a watch that. black on a white dial and dad used to wear that and I’ll just be teary again for no reason, except that watch made me think of dad or I’ll sit here and in, in our house now I can just see there’s a toy train called puffing, Billy, that goes right past my house and I’ll sit and watch that.

[01:04:42] And my dad would love watching trains. He hasn’t seen this new house and I can almost see like, you know, the other week I was literally like sitting there. And it was just as if it was real. I imagined him sitting there sipping on his tea and slurping on it. He would always slurp on his tea with the sound.

[01:05:03] And I could almost hear him just turning to my mom and saying, you know, oh, could you imagine we would sit in a house like this and watch the train just like this. And it kind of happens. And I felt. I felt that hole again. I felt that scar again, but it was such a beautiful moment. See, it wasn’t like the day of or the day after where I felt like a zombie and nothing worked, it almost felt beautiful.

[01:05:35] It was like all the memories of him wrapped me in this warm embrace. It wasn’t the same as if he was just there, but it was still just beautiful. And I think there’s always someone, if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, and even if you’re grieving the loss, and I say this on behalf of all my friends in infertility, people don’t understand, you do grieve the loss of a dream grieve, the loss of a child that could have been, or if you’re grieving the loss of someone who has been give it time, like everyone else says.

[01:06:12] It will not heal, but one day your tears will morph. They will morph into these beautiful memories that are just warm and fuzzy and beautiful.

[01:06:23] Jeffery Wang: Wow. Thanks for sharing that very beautiful and powerful story. Thank you for that. it reminds me of another lesson that we’ve heard before and that was, this too shall pass.

[01:06:36] You know, it doesn’t matter what it is, you know, when you are doing well in your life. Yeah. Or when you’re at a low point in your life, time will change everything. So, thanks for that.

[01:06:46] Well, we’ll finish on that note. You’ve been listening to 10 lessons learned where we dispense wisdom for career business and life.

[01:06:56] Our guest today has been Baishakhi Connor sharing the 10 lessons that took her a long time to learn. This episode is produced by Robert Hossary and sponsored by the Professional Development Forum. Don’t forget to leave us a review or comment. You can even email us at podcast 10 lessons. learn.com that’s podcast at number one zero lessons.

[01:07:16] learn.com. Go ahead and hit that subscribe button so that you don’t miss an episode of the only podcast that make the world a little wiser lesson by lesson. Thanks for listening and stay safe. Everyone.

 This episode is produced by Robert Hossary. Sponsored as always by Professional Development Forum, which office insights, community or discussions, podcasts, parties, anything you want here, but they’re unique and it’s all free online. You can find the www.professionaldevelopmentforum.org you’ve heard from us we’d like to hear from you. Email us it’s podcast@10lessonslearned.com. Remember, this is the podcast the only podcast. That’s makes the world wiser lesson by lesson.

 

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