… transparency helps you build resilience. Be honest with yourself first. My best tip to help build resilience is to let go of those things that hold you back. It brings me back to having a purpose. If the pain does not serve a purpose, then why allow it to hold you back where things have kept you stuck. Learn to work on things that are present. Feel the inner strength of what is currently taking place in your life and deal with what is within your control rather than what you cannot change. Feel the appreciation of what is present and live a more mindful life.
Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Belynder Walia.
Belynder Walia is a psychotherapist and anxiety relief expert. She helps people who need swift, effective solutions to current problems that are negatively encompassing their life. Belynder empowers clients around the world from a wide range of backgrounds; from stay-at-home parents/carers, C-suite corporate professionals, and start-up founders to experts and celebrities in the public eye.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
The well-being of those around me, including myself, is at the core of my purpose in life.
I lost my father very suddenly when I was nine years old. As you might imagine, that triggered a huge change in our circumstances and while that was difficult, one of the worst things for me personally was that I didn’t know how to help myself or my family deal with the grief. It inspired me when I reached 18 to begin studying psychology.
I have experienced the extremes of life, from living in comfort as an adored daughter to utter lack and poverty. On reflection, it is an excellent realization of what life should ultimately be about — living each day in the present, consciously and with integrity.
The real turning point came some years later when, after ten years of marriage, my husband walked out on me. While that has happened to many people, we had spent eight of those years trying to conceive. I had battled with perinatal anxiety throughout our IVF journey, and my multiple miscarriages left me in a downward spiral of dashed hopes, uncertainty, ill health, and emotional turmoil.
It had an immense impact on my overall health. I found myself alone, in debt, and living out of a suitcase. It was not until I moved back to my hometown in Essex that I truly began to make sense of my experiences.
I changed my mindset; I convinced myself it would change my life. It did. So, this is now one of the core principles I live by. Change a mindset — it will change a life. Helping myself through self-reflective therapy, I learned from the past, healed with each day, and have been growing throughout the years since. I trained further in Psychotherapy, NLP, CBT, and Clinical Hypnotherapy to pursue a career enabling others to manage their anxiety and let go of anything that did not serve a resolution. I use a variety of modalities to allow people to self-heal. To effectively improve and then maintain their mental, emotional and physical health utilizing all three of their brains (the head, heart, and gut).
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
2001 might only be 20 years ago — but in the words of LP Hartley “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” While working in a senior leadership role in education, my psychology background allowed me plenty of opportunities to coach and mentor trainees. The projects then led me to train the trainers to be influential leaders. I started to realize that I had an aptitude for leadership in creating change.
I ran study programs across the spectrum of education from primary up to university. As a result of new data on where we were failing to serve some children, I suggested a mindfulness program for young people and their parents or carers.
That might sound perfectly reasonable now, but back in the early 2000s, mindfulness was a misunderstood object of suspicion. Comments such as, “Not sure we need that here?” encapsulates the general mindset. I had studied it and was clear about the role it could have in positive psychology.
However, my organization made it crystal clear that there was no scope for including anything like this in my role. One particularly rigid employer made me feel obstructed and invalidated, and other colleagues also ignored any suggestion of change.
Somewhat frustrated, my next step was to start a coaching/mentoring business of my own. I did a few sessions with students at the university where I worked. That’s when I had the revelation, or the ‘Aha’ moment. I realized that I had a genuine desire to overcome mental, emotional, and even physical ailments if they were related to the psyche. I could relate to the anxiety people were suffering from; I used to suffer from it myself, and I knew how to find my own way back. It was the beginning of a fascinating journey.
After that, I founded Serene Lifestyles. Global online practices were not the norm when I began.
I realized that I’m extremely good at being ahead of the curve in tools, techniques, and strategies that will help people to live happier, more successful lives. And I’m not afraid to change if it will improve things.
In your opinion, were you a natural-born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
Honestly, I don’t believe I am an entrepreneur.
The origin of the word Entrepreneur being that of someone who ‘takes from between’ really doesn’t work as a mindset for my type of psychotherapy practice. However Emeritus Professor John Woods of Goldsmiths College, London coined the term Entredonneur for a creative giver or someone ‘gives between’ now that I can resonate with.
I think we are all constantly learning. Therefore, other than the autonomic nervous system little comes to us naturally. I’ve noticed that even people who think they are natural-born entrepreneurs often failed several times on their path to success. We all must learn to be the best at what we do, and that involves constant growth.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
I have three people that I would put in that category. I’m from a family of business-minded individuals. My parents used to have an Indian fabric store in Liverpool Street, London. We went to the shop every Sunday when we were children. Watching them was one of my inspirations and a lot of those memories came back to me when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to be the best I could be while working for someone else. It also gave me the understanding that there are moments when businesses will thrive and sometimes dive. I was young, but I witnessed a lot about putting the customers first, setting boundaries, have credibility, and knowing when to be generous. And, of course, the art of negotiation. As I got older, we all had chores at the store which were fun because we would get some pocket money! Back then, 10p was enough to inspire my efforts, after all, it could buy me sweets or a lucky bag!
My second eldest brother, Jazz Walia has been a true inspiration and a real mentor on the business side of my practice. When my father died, I was only nine years old, and after his passing, the business nearly folded. Jazz stepped up to run the family business; he was only 14 years old. He left school two years later and he never gave up. He quickly realized that a 16-year-old could not run the business; my mother was in mourning and could not run the company independently, so as a family, we were in a bit of a pickle. Where once we’d had luxuries and comfort, living on the poverty line became our new reality.
My brother was unstoppable. Temporary failures never deterred him. Eventually, independently, we all pulled through. The fantastic thing about my brother is that he never gave up. He persevered until he was successful. Jazz is now the CEO and Co-Founder of Tannus International Ltd (an innovative bicycle tyre company) and is always developing new ideas. He is an expert in understanding and transcending the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur. Perhaps you should interview him too.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think my global accessibility and my ability to help people wherever they are, both in the emotional and geographic senses is a key factor. I was using Skype for therapy sessions for years before Zoom became popular. Innovative psychological techniques which deliver real results quickly mean that my previous clients reach out to me regularly to share their good news. They send a testimonial, a happy result, a life-changing breakthrough, or even news of a new book, movie, or TV show they’re involved in. It’s extremely rewarding.
I guarantee my client’s total confidentiality. So, although there are many success stories I can share and my website has a section dedicated to Case Histories obviously I have to change any identifying details. No day is the same, one moment I might be talking to a UHNW client in the Emirates about business-related stress causing physical issues and then to someone in Wales about anxiety.
One of the most satisfying aspects is when I can make a real difference quickly and that difference benefits more than just the client. Something where the benefits can spread farther — to their family, their company, or even to the world.
The positive impact of managing obsession and fear became an overnight turning point for one high-profile client.
I received a call one day from an agent representing a potential client who was a familiar household name. Let’s call the client Fred. He is famous in the UK and USA particularly.
The conversation was fascinating — Fred presented with a lack of motivation to produce any more films. Although the human and financial resources were all lined up and ready to go — he wasn’t. His block was that he was suffering from self-sabotage. Fred believed he was not good enough. The fear of what people would think of him consumed him. He wanted his success to continue but he was trapped in a belief that he wouldn’t be able to produce the high standard of success that he had previously achieved.
Fred’s obsessions had developed to fill the void in his life caused by a lack of companionship. The limiting beliefs were there to give him a reason not to have faith in his ability. After self-reflective therapy with me, we concluded that he had always felt worthless. He’d felt this at school and at home with friends and family. He had never felt that he fit in. He had different interests to them — he was eccentric with a strong artistic flair. Bullied, belittled, and betrayed, he’d wrapped himself into a safety cocoon. The connection, on reflection, was all about self-worth. He wasn’t feeling good enough and feared being rejected by society if his creations failed. I worked with him for a few months and his confidence and self-image improved immensely. The dependence was difficult for him to let go of, but we agreed he would attend relevant support programs to assist with his habit. He has, since we worked together, released several successful entertainment projects — which many of us have very much enjoyed! This is what I meant when I said that I like making a real difference quickly to something that benefits more than just the client.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
The three traits for me are achieved by combining the use of my three brains (head, heart, and gut) so that I can use my intuition accurately and this has been instrumental in my success.
Science has worked on the existence and functioning of our 3 brains for some years now but understanding how to balance the three of them for our best results is at the leading edge. I call my system 3BE — The Three Brain Equilibrium because when we can balance the input from all our three brains we often find our most effective solutions. That affects our bottom line positively whether that line is profits, efficacy, contribution, or market share.
1: I am transparent
Transparency and honesty are not always the same thing. As a therapist — it isn’t always my job to be excessively honest with clients — i.e. to simply give them answers. Sometimes they have to reach their own conclusions with my help to achieve their best potential. But I always promise them transparency.
One particular client who was on the Autism spectrum had enormous difficulty with interpersonal relationships. I could have said that until she made the changes that were necessary, she probably wouldn’t be able to widen her social circle or find a life partner. While it might have been honest — it would also have been harsh, unhelpful, and therapeutically damaging. Instead, I helped her to work on her issues, assuring her with transparency that this would help her to achieve much greater happiness. She is now in a loving relationship.
2: I’m intuitive
And committed to constant improvement whether it is of myself as a person or adding to my therapist’s toolbox to allow me to help clients more quickly.
We live in a world where speedy results are valued. My 3BE — The Three Brain Equilibrium can help clients in any field and from any background to generate better results. Learning to balance the input from three brains is an essential life skill that I wish I could share with everyone.
Too many people don’t know how to align themselves and use their three brains in harmony or equilibrium to dramatically improve their results and increase the speed with which they can make the right decisions consistently.
I help people all the time who, whilst not indecisive people, struggle to make the correct decisions quickly. 3BE is a tool to KNOW when you’ve reached the correct conclusion in your decision-making process.
3: I’m Compassionate and skilled
I am changing lives for the better every day. Sometimes a client reaches out to me and tells me that they have tried this or that already. That a particular previous coach or therapist did more harm than good and that now they can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Particularly when grief or loss is involved, anger can mask the client’s real problems.
In the fast-moving world that we live in, where anyone who has completed a 6-week online course has a certificate of some kind, the difference between someone who cares and someone who has compassion AND skills can be dramatic. A skilled and experienced therapist can truly help people to dramatic change quickly. And they can do it with compassion.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about the advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
The guidance I’ve been given has always been excellent and productive. To be fair I select people carefully before I ask for their guidance. The only person who I believe I should not have listened to was myself.
I put myself under far too much pressure believing that I had to do everything, all at once, all the time and I soon realized that I simply couldn’t.
I was overwhelmed, especially when trying to keep all the plates spinning, both professionally and personally. And I was also suffering from FONKU or the Fear Of Not Keeping Up. Social media and networking can be very overpowering for empathic people.
To make myself visible, I had to learn to get out of my own way and stop shying away from the media. I had to overcome what felt like an invasion of my privacy and allow myself to be heard and not allow Imposter Syndrome to take over.
Every step we take is progress and achievement and we need to make time to celebrate them and enjoy our successes.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
I could not presume to give other health professionals advice. Most of us don’t have lots of employees and if we don’t already know how to avoid burnout–who does?
I do have a little mnemonic that I made up to help students and newly qualified therapists and I use it myself. That is the PCI effect. When one is in a caring profession such as mine, I believe there must be a Purpose to what you do, you should feel the Competence to do it and know if you have the Integrity to pursue it.
If you can tick off the P, the C, and the I — then you’re not suffering from burn-out. And if you can’t — it can help alert you to the need to take appropriate action.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and authority in their industry?
A person’s reputation is a direct reflection of their credibility. Every communication, every relationship, and every effort we engage in needs meaning and reason that leads to positive results. It is essential to possess qualities that connect people to their moral compass. Know why you do what you do.
Be clear on the purpose of what you are trying to achieve.
Consider how you, as an authority, maybe guiding others. How are you influencing behavior and teaching others?
Know what drives you. Sometimes the simplest things are the most effective. You can show you are trustworthy as a leader by keeping your word. Let them see your integrity. Say what you’ll do and then do what you say. Give trust and ask for their honesty in return.
Increasing focus on PCI — Purpose, Competence, and Integrity is the golden ticket we need in this world to get through difficult times.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
In the past confidentiality was often assured, deals done in back rooms didn’t necessarily come to light until decades later, poor and even illegal behaviors could be and were brushed under the carpet.
In our fast-moving, the increasingly connected world if you do one thing privately and publicly espouse another you will be found out and #Whoops won’t protect your reputation.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
I see people who don’t stop to think that the health, happiness, and work/life balance of the CEO or founder is mirrored throughout their organization.
Your best people will do what you do. If you don’t take time for a 10-minute walk in the mid-day sunshine and eat something at lunchtime then your people won’t either. If you work late every night or all weekend, this can create a culture where others feel they should do the same. Before long you may have an organization of unhappy, unhealthy people with failing personal relationships.
Yes, there is always a rush job or time-sensitive project but if they’ve become the norm maybe give a thought to the example you’re setting.
Okay fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
I think the main difference for the entrepreneur is the level of risk. The risk is far greater, because of the investment in the business, in people. But the rewards can be far greater too.
A person with a regular job does not have any concerns about such matters, apart from getting the income they require. Entrepreneurs — either as individuals or in teams — discover opportunities throughout their personal and professional lives.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited because of your business? We would love to hear it.
As I’ve mentioned confidentiality is a given in my profession so sadly, I can only share some of the stories. That is another reason I love what I do — it is often fascinating even if it must be kept mostly confidential. If not for that I could share many stories and always the biggest high comes because I am changing lives every day.
One of the most exhilarating experiences was shortly after I first launched my business. I received a call from a woman with a strong accent who spoke eloquently. She explained that we had a mutual contact, a professor that I used to work with at the university. She indicated that the potential client was a high-profile individual. We had a lengthy discussion about confidentiality. I later found out that I would be treating a member of the Royal family from a country on the African continent. They invited me to stay in central London. It was all tremendously exciting. The venue was impressive and luxurious and the suite was very grand indeed. I actually felt like I was in a movie!
Meeting this person was an honor. What it did make me realize is that we all, whatever our background experience our own highs and lows. The way we think about the issue is both the problem and the solution. The choices we have are our own. We can either go with it or learn to let go of it. Despite our background, ethnicity, race, religion, social status, economic status, or social environment, our emotions are all the same.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
We all have our triggers, and plagiarism and lack of respect for intellectual property are some of mine. My experiences with this may sound familiar to many of you. While working for one particular establishment, I spent weeks creating a program that I was very proud of. They decided not to implement it, which was disappointing, but it happens. Later I found that they had in fact implemented it, but with a different colleague’s name attached.
There are many wellness practitioners creating content online, many of whom may have similar ideas to my own. You know that people are going to copy ideas, take and use posts that you have shared — it’s the same with any industry. But I must admit that is one thing that makes me feel very low when they just blatantly steal it. I work hard to create content, and for someone to take it without permission or any attribution to myself as the original author can be very demoralizing.
On one occasion after an article of mine was copied verbatim without prior request or any acknowledgment, I asked them to either remove it or provide proper credit for the work. They replied saying they didn’t believe plagiarism applied and that I should get over it.
As frustrating as that was at the time, their advice was actually sound — perhaps not for the reason they gave. Once you have published work online, people do copy it. There are several avenues you can go down to try and stop it after the fact, but usually, the best approach is to get over it, write more content and find something much more positive to spend your time on. That’s what I try to do now, but I’ll admit it isn’t always easy!
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
I paused and self-reflected. Things become apparent once you breathe and reframe your mind. We all struggle not to be overwhelmed when something negative happens. I remind myself that change is a constant in business. Adaptability is so important. And in the words of Charles Swindoll “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
Okay super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
There are always going to be emotional highs and lows of being an entrepreneur and times where you will question why you continue. But for me, the key has always been to understand myself. The five things that worked best for me are:
1: Self-Awareness — I realized quickly that I need to be visible online, but I did not want to share my private story about my life. That was an unpleasant reminder of not fulfilling what, I thought at the time, was my life’s purpose to be a mother.
A friend and colleague in Public Relations challenged me and asked, “Are you even aware how what you have been through could help your business grow and help others heal?” I didn’t want my fear (masquerading as a desire for personal privacy) to hold me back.
My story was relatable, my followers grew and because I had been through mental and emotional pain, they knew I could relate, and that I wouldn’t judge them. I could help them. Self-awareness helps you grow as a person, both mentally and emotionally.
2: Integrity- I want to be trusted and if I am making myself transparent with the story of my past then I am allowing others to trust me by sharing their story. A referred patient called me once, regarding trying to conceive. She spoke openly about her pain, the confusion in her mind, not having anyone to talk to, and her apprehensions of whether IVF treatment if she went forward with it would work. She trusted me because of my story. The most rewarding words for me were when she said, “You get me. You understand”. With the trust she had in me, she chose me to treat her and help her through her IVF journey. She had twins. What a rewarding result, right?
3: Resilience — I have already shared information about this. So, I will just say that transparency helps you build resilience. Be honest with yourself first. My best tip to help build resilience is to let go of those things that hold you back. It brings me back to having a purpose. If the pain does not serve a purpose, then why allow it to hold you back where things have kept you stuck. Learn to work on things that are present. Feel the inner strength of what is currently taking place in your life and deal with what is within your control rather than what you cannot change. Feel the appreciation of what is present and live a more mindful life.
4: Mindfulness — People often forget that to be present is to live a life with peace of mind. To be mindful is to live in the moment without the worry of the past or any concerns of the future. Mindfulness is not all about meditation, as I have misconstrued it to be in the past. It’s about living with a sense of calm. In a moment where mental and emotional ailments fade away. I had a client who had chronic pain and anxiety. She would spend every moment of her day reflecting on her pain history, from when it started right up to the present day, and worrying where it would leave her in the future.
She did not wish to change her mindset out of fear. We worked together to discover what the chronic pain was doing for her. She felt it kept her safe, and she liked the attention. The attention was something she craved as a child, but she never got it, unless she was ill. This past is what she was holding tight to and she needed to let go of it. Over time, she came to see the familiar patterns in her behavior, and then she could adapt her thoughts which dramatically improved both her chronic pain and her anxiety.
5: Adaptability- This is all to do with mindset. One should be able to change the way one thinks about things. A couple presented requesting relational therapy. Their individual patterns of behavior based on what they had each been taught growing up and their ideas of how to bring their children up were clashing.
The solutions based on new perspectives, using conscious parenting techniques and looking at things from the child’s viewpoint too. They swiftly came to realize that many of the methods they been taught growing up (and held sacred) were no longer relevant to children’s well-being in the 21st century. With a new insight into themselves and looking from the perspective of their children, they agreed there were areas in which they could demonstrate adaptability and thrive as a family.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Several things make one resilient. Self-awareness and ruthless honesty are crucial — knowing that you are accountable for and to yourself. With this vital character trait, you are well on your way to achieving more success and personal and professional development. It is also essential that you are authentic and genuine about any situation. Remaining calm, having empathy. Empathy is so important that it can lead you to help others overcome adversities. View challenges as a need for developmental adaptation rather than look at things negatively. Have gratitude and celebrate both your successes and those of your staff.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
I’ve shared so much of my story already, I don’t wish to exhaust the topic, you, or want to repeat myself. All the things I have spoken about already contributed to building my resilience.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
My mindset is generally very positive, with a few little practices you truly can become pretty nonchalant to chaos.
Mindfulness is such an important strategy that anyone can use. Sadly a lot of people seem to believe that Mindfulness is a synonym for Meditation. It can be — but in a business context, it’s also a quick and easy tool to refocus your mind on exactly what is in front of you. Not mulling over what went wrong yesterday or worrying about what might go wrong tomorrow. Just be present and look at what is happening right now. Sink into it, clear your mind, breathe and focus on the present moment.
Things do not surprise you so much because you accept something to be the way it is presented to you at that moment. The only thing that changes is your perspective. But your perspective is the only thing that IS important.
I love a quote from Richard Bach’s book Illusions which says, “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly” It helps to remind me that the things that may seem bad at the time might be the seeds of tomorrow’s joy.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
I don’t have a story in this context. However, I would like to share something that I find valuable. Positivity increases our ability to think creatively, progress in our careers, cope with challenges, and work with other people. It can reduce absenteeism and staff turnover and lead to more happy and productive teams. In short, it’s an essential ingredient for success!
I believe people should follow Martin Seligman, a leading positive psychologist, who developed the PERMA model to highlight the five basic elements that we all need to make us happy.
PERMA is an acronym — Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishments
Positive Emotion — For us to experience wellbeing, any positive emotion such as peace, gratitude, satisfaction, pleasure, inspiration, hope, curiosity, or love falls into this category–and the message is that it’s imperative to enjoy yourself in the here and now.
Engagement — When we’re truly engaged in a situation or task, a person experiences a state of flow, and we concentrate intensely on the present.
Positive Relationships — As humans, we are social beings, and good relationships are core to our well-being.
Meaning — comes from serving a cause bigger than ourselves. Whether this is a specific deity or religion, or a cause that helps humanity we all need meaning in our lives to have a sense of wellbeing.
Accomplishment — Most of us strive to better ourselves, to master a skill, achieve a worthwhile goal, or win in some competitive event. Accomplishment contributes to our ability to flourish.
Okay. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favourite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
One of my favorite quotes is taken from the book Limitless, written by Jim Kwick because he brings the superhero out in all of us, “If our mindset is not aligned with our desires or goals, we will never achieve them.”
The dreams, desires, or goals are all your purpose, but only once you have discovered them use your creativity and genuinely fulfill all that you have the power to achieve.
How can our readers further follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!