Thinking about the future can either build your confidence or feed your fear about what it may bring, but there are times when you need to trust yourself and take the leap of faith. The Cofounder of Global Grit Institute, Ajit Nawalkha, joins Tanya Memme in this episode to talk about his career journey and how he began taking chances on a world that is unknown to him. Want to start making that improvement in your life? Don’t miss this episode to learn simple tips for overcoming your fears and discover the impact of rationalization on your professional and personal life.
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Taking The Leap Of Faith Into Success With Ajit Nawalkha
We have Ajit Nawalkha and he is a speaker, author, and Founder of Evercoach. Tell me about that. Tell me about being the founder of Evercoach, because I know that’s what you’re doing. It’s an incredible brand that you’ve built up. I’ve heard about you when you started it. How many years ago did you start?
It’s been years.
How did this all start for you?
I grew up in India, in a household of 23 other people and that’s where it started.
They’re all relatives?
Yes. We live together. It is one house with two floors and we all crammed into the same space.
Family is big for you.
Yes. Family is big for me but at the same time, I was at the stage where I was like, “I don’t know if I want to live a life where I’m always crammed into a space with a lot of people together.”
That would be hard. What was that like? Here in America, I don’t know many families like that. How many square feet was the house?
I wouldn’t know the square feet, but it was not that huge. It wasn’t that big as a house. It’s still a good house with 23 people and everybody shared space. My parents and my brothers shared two rooms together. There were two small rooms, everything was in there.
How many bathrooms?
That was all shared. There were a few bathrooms in the entire house and we would all share it.
It was all you knew at the time.
It’s not uncommon in India, per se. At the same point of time, it was the situation that I grew up in. It had a lot of learnings because of it, there was a lot of wisdom. Many elders, being in the same space, you’re always listening to stories and you’re getting messages and you hear stories that are way beyond your age and you are not able to comprehend them but you still get the wisdom. You get the essence of the story. There was a lot of wisdom around. Not a lot of wealth, but a lot of wisdom. I grew up with a lot of wisdom. I grew up with a lot of entrepreneurial attitude of taking a risk and trying to do things that have not been done before.
That’s not common in India, is it?
No, it’s not. My family was different. I was not expected to be an entrepreneur. Their dream was that I’ll become an engineer and get a stable job somewhere, like all the Indian parents I would think. They wanted me to do that. There was a point where as much as I was studying for it, I hated it to the core and I was no good at it as well.
You tried it but you did it to make your family happy.
Mostly my mom. My mom wanted me to be an engineer. That was her ticket for a successful son. That had that flair with me all the time. I started early. I started taking odd jobs because I had anyways become the black sheep of the family where I’m not doing engineering and not getting any academy degree that is of any caliber. I was that the useless kid, the black sheep of the family.Believe in potential a lot more than you believe in challenges. Click To Tweet
I know how you feel. That must have been hard.
At the same time, I had to figure it out. It was hard. It was also painful because one of my mom’s big dreams was for me to become an engineer and become a successful kid in her eyes, in the way she sees the world.
You felt like you were letting her down.
Thanks to my father, because he was supportive of whatever I wanted to do. He was clear that he doesn’t have the wealth to support me financially. Spiritually, he’s there for me, which is great to know because that’s all you need at that age or so I felt. I went out in the world, started doing odd jobs, and started to pitch ideas that I would get to the people that I was working for. It’s like, “You should do this in your business. You should do this.”
What businesses did you work for?
Mostly educational companies. It’s a coincidence that I always ended up in educational companies. It wasn’t by design. I wasn’t curious about education at the time, nothing, but it happened to be always education companies and eventually media companies. I always end up in those companies. I started giving me ideas. Their businesses were growing. I couldn’t trace it back to my ideas, but I like to go, “It was working.” That led me to a media house eventually where I pitched an idea, which is probably one of my biggest pitches and they took me up on the idea. The investment that they made was only $20,000 at the time.
You get a job at a media company. How old are you at this point?
You’re working there for how long and you’re like, “Here’s an idea.”
About a year. I was their top salesperson for multimedia sales at that age. I was doing well in the context of the company as sales personnel, that’s what I was hired for. This was the only non-education job I had taken until then. I was doing well in media sales. As I was doing well, I said, “We have this internet thing,” the internet was still new in India. We were getting off dial-up. We were getting the cable and we’re like, “This is fast. You can watch a video.”
Remember you would hear it go, “Boop, boop, boop.”
That was another time. Everybody must be like, “That time when you have ‘Boop, boop, boop,’ and it would go online.” That was around that time that the internet was picking up and I was like, “You guys that are a traditional media house, you should do something on the internet. We should do something on the internet.” I pitched the idea of us doing something. I don’t know why they said yes. They decided to invest $20,000 in that idea, which for me was a huge deal at the time. I was a 24-year-old kid. I didn’t know what I was talking about. I had no idea how to make the internet work.
You didn’t even know how to do the internet.
I knew how to load Google. I wasn’t some internet marketing genius who understood all of those things at the time. I pitched this idea. For some reason, they said yes. We go in, we start this company, and that bombed. It doesn’t work because we were trying to build a social network. This is 2007. This is the time when Facebook was on the rise. It comes with a more sophisticated technology, better user interface, better user experience. Way more than $20,000 to build an effective platform. We were like, “We don’t stand a chance. There is no way we can crush this new thing that has come in.”
That definitely gave me that confidence and I was saying, “There is something that’s going to happen on this internet or the interweb. I got to learn more.” I took a step back. I reached out to my friends that were everywhere in the world and I said, “Would you be able to find me a company I can do a job in or internship so I can learn about the internet?” One of my friends was in Malaysia and they introduced me to this tiny little startup at the time called Mindvalley.
Which is not such a tiny little startup anymore. How many years was that ago?
That was 2008.
You’re in Malaysia at this point or India?
I then moved to Malaysia to work with Mindvalley as an intern. I took a pay cut. I was doing in the world type of cut. I said, “I’m going to go become a student again because I got to learn about this thing, the internet.” This was a company that even if it was a startup, it was a culture that I liked and that was the promotion that the company was doing at the time as well, “Come for this fun culture where you get to work with young people and do something on the internet. You may not understand, but it sounds fun.” I was like, “That sounds like a good idea.”
What inside of you made you take that leap? You were getting comfortable with this other company. You’re probably starting to make money. The $20,000 went out the window and you bombed, but you were doing great. What made you like, “I’m going to go learn this.” It’s something that made you believe that there was something in this internet. What was that?
There are two parts to it. First was, yes, there was belief. It’s like seeing an opportunity. When you see something and you go, “This is going to be something. I don’t know what it will be, but this will be something.” There are two things that happen. One, people take a leap of faith and do it. Secondly, you don’t do anything about it. I’m the kind of person who will always take the leap of faith. If I see potential, let me try. It doesn’t always work out, but at least I want to make the effort. I don’t want to regret I didn’t take action. That’s how I’ve been. This is the wisdom you can say I grew up with.
I’ve been following you for a few years, and you are a true visionary. I refer to you as that. Even coming on the show, I was like, “Both of them are visionaries. They’re amazing.” It’s something that I don’t often say about somebody. That came from your upbringing.
I don’t know where to trace it back to, but I’ve always been somebody who says, “I see something and I want to take a chance.” I want to not guess if it’ll work or not work. I believe in potential a lot more than I believe in challenges in realizing the potential. I believe a lot more in the possibility of human beings and human capabilities than thinking about the stuff that will not work out. I’m a rational person, which means everything that I evaluate, I would evaluate by saying, “What are the challenges that might incur or can happen along the way?” I will always lean to the possibility. I will tell, “These are the challenges. We need to figure these out, but the potential is much greater. Let’s go work for that and challenges will resolve them.”
When it comes to the internet back in that day, I remember it was such an undiscovered world. How did you even come up with the challenges or know what they were going to be or know what they weren’t going to be?
I didn’t know. That’s where the leap of faith was the first part. Second, was my personal result, where I had to find something that I could say will get me out of the state that I was in. I’m still living in the house at 23, even if I have the job. I’m still living with my parents. I’m still living in that house. I have one room to myself because my brothers moved to a different city. I’m still living in a tiny little room by myself and living with 23 other people in the same house. I’m still living that life. For me, it was important that I got out of that life and being able to even know who am I truly. When you have 23 people around you all the time or even 20 people, even 5 people around you all the time, you’re a function of those five people in a lot of ways.
If these five people are not coming from a place of abundance, if they’re not coming from a place of joy, you’re constantly going, “You’re not good enough.” You’re getting punched in the face all the time. Even if they’re not intending to do it, that’s your reality. Because that’s your reality, it’s hard for you to get past and create something greater. Sometimes, you have to step out to be able to step into who you are. That’s what I needed at the time. I knew I had to step out from my reality. I didn’t know where I was going. I would be lying if I said, “I knew I had a great future,” or anything like that. I didn’t know, anything.
What I knew was wherever I was, wasn’t who I was meant to be. There was something that was beyond that. Will it be greater or lesser? It didn’t matter. What mattered was, I needed to get out of that place to be able to find myself. I knew there was an opportunity on the internet because of the addictive personality of the internet. The amount of knowledge you can get, the amount of information you can gather, the connections that you can build, I had seen it by that time because it was already unfolding. It hadn’t completely unfolded to the degree it is and what it will be years from now but it had unfolded a little bit of like, “This is going to be the new media. If I want to be in media, if I want to do something interesting with media, this is the place to go.” That is what got me curious enough to be able to say, “I’m willing to be a student again, take a pay cut, take a cut in what type of work I’m doing, become a student, and dive deep into this.”
I find it interesting because here you are living this house and you knew, “I got to move out of this house and do all these things.” You had it planned but yet while you knew that, you’re willing to take a pay cut and you’re willing to take a few steps down and go back to that house and know that you’re being surrounded. It’s an interesting dynamic. What is that thing inside of you that keeps you going like that?
If I have to point out one thing that keeps me going it’s that I’m curious enough about life and that I give life a lot of chance. My past probably defines my present, but my past doesn’t define my future. Where I am now is a small fraction of where I will be tomorrow. Life is like this game, or this play, that the more fun we can have with it, the more play we can have with it, the greater is the possibility that will unfold in front of us. That possibility sometimes looks like a challenge, sometimes looks like an opportunity. It may look like whatever it may look like. The real play or the real dance of life, the real reason of life is the play, is the dance, is the joy of it.
I’m not even operating ever from a place where I go, “What will happen? Can this go bad?” For me, it’s like, “This is fun. This next thing looks fun.” I don’t know what the world is going to be years from now. What I can do is I can make positive progress every day. That’s all I can hold myself accountable to and have a vision for the future but make positive progress. That’s all I want to do on a daily basis. That takes away the whole fear of the future, the anxiety of the future, or the challenge the future can present for anybody.
What would you say to people that haven’t quite mastered that skill that are at the bottom? You’re an incredible coach. You teach coaches how to be incredible coaches. By the way, I read your book. It’s also incredible. What do you say to your clients that don’t see the glass half full, they’re at the bottom of their barrel, and they haven’t managed skills of what you’re talking about? How do you get them back on track again? How do you start them to think differently?
It depends. Coaching is such a broad term and I can say a bunch of tools. The beauty of coaching and the reason why coaching is on the rise more and more is because, coaching is personalized. You are a different human being to somebody else. As much as our DNA is similar or whatever, we’re still different. Our emotional DNA is different. Our spiritual DNA is different. We’re different, not a little but different. What tool I may use with you will be different than what tool I may use with somebody else. If I have to give a broad tool that people can work with, irrespective of the stage they are at or irrespective of their personality and it works most of the time is to rationalize. If you can rationalize your fear, you most likely will get past your fear. For example, let’s say somebody is in a state where they don’t have abundance or they have a fear that whatever they’re working on as a business or as a life item will not work out. Let’s say you’re operating from that.
They’re completely freaked out of their mind. They’re losing everything. They don’t know how to handle it. It’s definitely not going in the right direction.
Let’s say that’s the big fear that we’re working with, things that are going to help. What you need to do is you need to take that fear or that situation that you feel is the extreme bad scenario and start to rationalize it. What happens is most of the fear that we have is a mental construct. It’s not the truth. It’s a perceived truth. Business is going to fall apart. It’s an assumption that we make because of situations. It’s not the truth because business has a set of challenges that you come past. Relationships are going to fall apart, it’s the same. It’s not going to fall apart if you make amends to it. It falls apart because you don’t change and you let it go the way it’s going. Stuff like that happens. Most of the fears, most of the concerns that we have around our future are constructs that we create because of the mental space that we are in. We feel that when something is going bad, it will always keep going bad. When something is going good, it’ll always go good. Neither of that is true. Life is more like a heartbeat.
That’s true. When things are going good, you’ll think it’s going to last forever. Maybe it’s a human thing.Sometimes you have to step out to be able to step into who you really are. Click To Tweet
It is a human thing. It is true for everyone. Everybody goes, “It’s fine. It’s going well.” It’ll always go well and then it’s going bad.
It’s only going to continue. It’s like, “Get out of that.” When you believe it’s always going bad, it’s going to go bad. It’s going to continue to go bad. How do you get people out of that frame of mind?
You rationalize it. First is you need to understand that life is more like a heartbeat than a sliding slope or an uphill. It’s a heartbeat, which means you’ll have ups and you’ll have downs. That’s how life is, which means everything that’s going good will not always go good and everything that’s going bad does not always go bad. It will move and that’s why life becomes interesting. If everything goes good and continues to go good, let’s be honest, you’ll get bored fast. If everything goes bad and continues to go bad, you’re probably going to give up on life. Neither of them is an extreme scenario and neither of them is true. It always goes like this. It’s for you to be able to identify, “Right now I’m on the up. Right now, I’m on the down.” Usually, you will be concerned when you’re on the down. You go, “Life is going to go to hell now. This is going to be so bad.” Let’s trace it back and let’s find the truth about, is it going to be that bad? One is creating the truth and one is the truth. The truth is, you don’t know. The absolute truth is you have no idea.
You don’t know where your future is going. Every day is a new day. You don’t know what can happen.
What you only know is you can take action towards creating change.
Taking action is step one.
Rationalizing is probably step one, where you go, “My mind is making up that this is going to be the outcome.” You go, “No, not really. This could change the way I create different realities because I can take different actions and that will create a different outcome completely.” You can say, “My life is going to be bad because of the relationship I am in,” for example, hypothetically. You could make three different decisions. One, I could change my life by changing my relationship. I could change my life by quitting this relationship. I can change my life by staying in this relationship and then trying to change it or have a baby or create a big event in my life that will change the relationship.
It’s more like a distraction
You could have many different answers to the same problem and different actions will create completely different outcomes.
It’s true. Do you map this out with your clients?
Sometimes. The good thing with the types of clients that we tend to work, they’re entrepreneurs, which means the only fear most of the time they operate from is the fear of future and business, which is easy to rationalize because most of them are complete bullshit. All of the mapping of the future is always a subject to who you’re interacting with. If you’re interacting with a bunch of team members who had a bad month, there is no way they will plan a future that is exciting because they’re like, “Everything is going bad. Nobody wants to deal with money. Our product is bad.”
It’s hard to change the morale around.
You got to bring in somebody. For example, me. There are many coaches like that. You bring us in and we go, “Is that true? Is your product that bad?” If that’s not true and the people go, “The product is not bad.” There are fixable things because the product is good. The final outcome that people get is good, there is no reason for the company to fail, except people problems or process problems, which are all fixable. People are fixable, processes are fixable, which means you can fix the people and you can fix the processes and your company is back in the normal again. It’s a simple dialogue like that with the CEO sometimes, not even the whole team or the founder or whoever is running changes the game completely. I’m in the less of a pickle most of the time because businesses are much easier to resolve than somebody’s relationship or somebody’s personal challenge.
I feel like they’re not.
They are much easier. They are significantly easier.
I think it’s much harder.
Yeah. It’s different for everybody. You got different challenges and different aspects.
Usually, businesses can be rationalized.
How did you come up with all of this incredible wisdom that you have? I read a lot of your Instagram posts and your Facebook. Same with your beautiful life partner, Neeta, I’ve read a lot of her stuff, too. You guys have this natural ability, its wisdom pouring out of you. It’s like jewels coming out of your mouth when you speak. Where does that come from? Some people call it a download. Some people call it life experience.
It could be downloaded. It could be life experience. The common thing between me and my partner, Neeta, is that we study a lot. We learn a lot. We invest a lot of time discussing ideas. Me and Neeta’s date nights look like philosophical discussions often. We would talk about ourselves, we would go, “How are you feeling?” Addressing somebody’s feelings is one of the most complicated things you can address, especially in the relationship, and a few will check in on that. When you check in on something like that, you can go, “Why is that happening for me?” We are partners. We sat together. One person asked the person a question. You’re honestly answering. While you’re answering you go, “Did I say that? What did I feel? Why is this happening for me?” We are tuned in.
I believe with all the learning and all the exploration, all the discussions that we get to have with each other and with our clients and with our business partners, gives us a lot of access to be able to put dots together. The dots that otherwise seemingly would be like, “How does this Connect?” We’re able to connect them much more easily because of the life experience, the learning experience, and the conversations that we get to have between ourselves and our friends and our partner.
I have one last question for you. You talk a lot about mentorship. You wouldn’t be who you are, as great of a mentor as you are, if you didn’t have mentorship. It’s interesting because a lot of the life masters I interviewed, they’ve all been coached, they’ve all been mentored. They didn’t just become who they are in whatever aspect. It’s not just coaching. It’s not just speaking. It’s whatever aspect. Who are your mentors?
There have been many. It started when I was a little kid. I was eighteen years old. It started with my teachers. Some of my teachers were kind to me, as a confused kid who was about to give up on engineering. They start all the way from that time. The vice-principal of my school, who once encouraged me and said, “You can be somebody in media instead of the engineering track,” which was a random thought comment that she mentioned and completely changed the way I looked at myself. My business partner sometimes or modern-day coaches from Lisa Nichols, Jay Shetty, to Vishen, who is my business partner, to many other people that I get to interact. I live in a beautiful space where I get to meet mentors, a lot of people on a daily basis. I get to interact with them. I get to create with them. I get to learn from a lot of resources. If I say 1 or 2 names, it’ll be not right.
It’s been your life path. You’ve had mentors along the way. If people are struggling, it’s always good to find a mentor. Hire a coach. Hire a mentor. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I’m happy to have this interview with you, a wealth of information. Where can we learn more about you if there are clients that are out there that want to learn from you or hire you or read your books?
You can always find me on Instagram, it’s @Ajit Nawalkha that’s my full name. You can also go to our website. One of my business is called Evercoach.com and the other one is GlobalGritInstitute.com and you can find Nawalkha Consulting Services there.
Thank you so much.
About Ajit Nawalkha
My beginnings were humble. I come from a middle-income family in Jaipur. As a typical Indian family, I grew up in an extended family of 23. We did not have a lot of space or money.
I remember one particular moment in my childhood where I had to share a bed with my uncle and my brother. There just wasn’t enough space or money for us to have individual beds. Being the youngest, I had to squeeze myself at the edge.
I felt small. I felt insignificant. And I was bitter about our scarcity. I knew I never wanted to ever feel like that again.
With that seed in my heart, I adopted an outlook of seeing opportunity instead of limitations. The first nudge towards expanding my horizons came from a school teacher who encouraged me in a school assembly to become a “news anchor”. That experience gave me the idea that I have more talent. That empowerment is within me. That I can be what I wanted to be. It also sparked my interest in media.
I planted myself wherever I could grow and aligned myself with people who could teach me to grow. At university, I joined AIESEC. Starting as a trainee, I worked my way up to become Vice-President and Regional Director of AIESEC India. There, I gained my first experience of leading a team and expanding an organisation.
Upon graduating, I gained branding and multimedia sales experience at Rajasthan Patrika, one of the largest publications in India. After that, I dabbled in building a social rating site as COO of GMI Pvt. Ltd. Then, in 2008, I made a bold decision to move to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and join Mindvalley as an intern.
My mentors at Mindvalley accelerated my learning and growth. Juan Martitegui opened me to the idea of “standing on shoulders of giants”. He showed me that even if you’re not the smartest, you can learn your way through others. Vishen Lakhiani taught me dreams do come true and that challenges are a good thing. He challenged my limiting beliefs and made me realize that when you don’t know what the ceiling is, there is no ceiling.