Rising Through Resilience: Aruna Krishnan of OPTIM On The Five Things You Can Do To Become More Resilient During Turbulent Times

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

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Practice your new habits to incorporate them more seamlessly into your lifestyle. The more you remind yourself to stay the course, the better you get at redefining yourself. A stronger and more resilient version of yourself.

Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aruna Krishnan.

Aruna Krishnan is a Management Consultant, Best Selling Author, and Podcast Host.

Her interest in mindfulness coupled with her experience leading Information Technology teams has led her to write books that demonstrate new and simple ways of thinking about age-old problems.

She is an advocate for Mental Health and Women’s Empowerment. Her main mission in life is to give people hope and help them find happiness through a process of self-discovery.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

I grew up in Africa and moved to Arizona when I was about 20 years old. Some of my fondest memories of living in Africa involve food, friends, and festivals. Growing up in Africa, as a person of Indian origin, has influenced who I am and how I approach life. My exposure to diverse cultures has been a very enriching experience. It has given me a much broader perspective of the world.

I’ve tried to do the same for my kids by taking vacations in places where they can immerse in a whole different culture. The things we learn and the memories we create as a family in these new places are priceless!

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

I remember a time when I was on a team with a very toxic co-worker. He constantly brought negativity to the team. He wasn’t a team player and talked down to anyone that questioned his viewpoint. At the time, I wasn’t brave enough to confront him or report him. No one on the team wanted to call him out either. I definitely didn’t have a sense of psychological safety at work.

It took me about two years to finally say “Enough!” to the situation. I walked away from the team and took on an opportunity that would ultimately change the trajectory of my life! One where I was respected. One where I was seen as a leader. One where I would finally believe in myself and my abilities.

This change taught me to stand up for myself, prioritize my well-being, and support others facing difficult situations at work.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My approach as an entrepreneur and consultant is to put people first. It’s about the relationships I build. It’s about understanding my customer’s needs. It’s about understanding my team’s dynamics. When you start with empathy, it puts you in a better position to gain the trust of your team and customers. I’ve been able to convert even the most skeptical business stakeholder into someone who will advocate for my skills and services. A little empathy goes a long way.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There have been a few people along the way. More recently, having a great group of like-minded individuals by way of my entrepreneur, professional, and podcast networks has given me a great support system. I’ve been able to ask for advice, share ideas, and learn from them. They’ve become my advocates and more importantly, my friends. Without them, the journey would have felt very lonely.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

Resilience is the ability to recover from the negative effects of adversities and continue to have a sense of hope.

Some of the common characteristics of resilient people are:

  1. Their ability to introspect. Self-awareness plays a big part in understanding how we frame our thoughts around adversity. Introspection gives us a chance to articulate what we’re feeling and work through our thoughts to gain clarity. Without introspection, we succumb to our blindspots and ingrained beliefs and never learn to consider new perspectives or different ways to solve our problems.
  2. Their ability to get past the “Why Me” mentality. We are often left wondering why something terrible has happened to us. It is a natural part of grieving. The only thing is that we shouldn’t get stuck in that phase. Thinking about life’s challenges as an obstacle we can get past sets the tone for building our resilience. The knowledge we gain from overcoming difficult circumstances helps us cope in the future.
  3. Their ability to choose action over rumination. Repeatedly worrying about things doesn’t solve our problems. Instead, if we lay out a plan for possible next steps we can focus on how to move on. This gets us out of our heads and enables us to actively change our lives.

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different from resilience?

Courage is a prerequisite to resilience. Without it, one cannot make the shift from hopelessness to happiness.

You need courage to:

  1. Admit that you can change the outcomes in your life
  2. Persist through the ups and downs along the path to resilience
  3. Let go of the past and redefine life on your terms

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

I met Precious Williams, #killerpitchmaster, a few years ago on my podcast. She has experienced abuse, homelessness, personal loss, and alcohol addiction. Today, Precious is a successful entrepreneur, trainer, speaker, and author. She credits both her grandmother and spiritual grounding for her path to resilience. A path that paved the way for her to show up as her true self … with confidence. Her story truly inspires me!

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

No one has been a bigger hurdle to my success than me! I grew up with a very narrow definition of what comprised a successful life so I never had the urge to challenge myself. It wasn’t until my mid-thirties, in an effort to build my resilience, that I decided to take on ventures that were brand new to me. I wanted to set new goals and eradicate my self-imposed limits. That’s when I went down the route of pursuing marathons, triathlons, and publishing books. I broke my own barriers which gave me something that evaded me for a very long time … confidence!

Did you have a time in your life when you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

At the onset of the pandemic, like many others, I was laid off. Although I knew layoffs weren’t meant to be taken personally, I still had to deal with the emotional rollercoaster that came along with that change. I had to experience all the stages starting from anger to acceptance. There were good days and bad days. When I finally reached acceptance, I had an opportunity for discovery and reinvention.

I explored alternative career options. I started a leadership podcast. I did things I never dared to do. I opened new doors for myself and had a significant growth journey. I learned how to produce a podcast, how to run a business, and how to make my work more visible … even if it made me somewhat uncomfortable.

How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

I don’t think I understood the concept of resilience when I was young. I took things to heart very often. They weighed on me and created a “block” at some subconscious level. About 10 years ago, I decided that I was going to redefine my life. A life where I would be happy. A life where I wasn’t executing someone else’s vision for me. A life where I owned my decisions. This took me down the path of understanding how to let go of past traumas and move forward with a new outlook. For me, this was a huge step in the direction of resilience.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

Building resilience starts with developing a mindset that favors strength and courage. 5 steps to enable that change are Reflect, Rinse, Restart, Reinforce, and Repeat.

Reflect — Evaluate the factors in your life that affect your behavior. Ask yourself what you want to change and why.

There are three main categories to analyze:

  • Belief Systems — what have you been programmed to believe based on your environment?
  • Interactions — who do you regularly interact with and how do they make you feel?
  • Thought Process — how do you think through and process (negative) situations?

The point of this step is to work through and sort out how you live your life in these aspects. It is to give you a chance to see what you should keep, and what you should remove.

Rinse — Release all the thoughts, forces, or entities that have been creating negativity in your life. This step builds on the previous one. The items that you’ve classified as “remove” need to be let go. This is one of the most empowering things to do! It takes the weight of unnecessary “baggage” off your shoulders.

Restart — Reset in terms of thoughts, relationships, and self. Align with your true “why” and associate with allies that can support you. Start anew.

Once you get clear on what beliefs, interactions, and mindset you want to adopt, you can be the new you. The shedding of the past gives you room to grow and explore … with courage.

Reinforce — Change does not happen overnight. Persisting with a new way of thinking takes time. The more you stay on the path, the more intuitive it becomes.

Practice your new habits to incorporate them more seamlessly into your lifestyle. The more you remind yourself to stay the course, the better you get at redefining yourself. A stronger and more resilient version of yourself.

Repeat — Go back to “Reflect.” Feedback loops are an essential aspect of any change. Look back to determine the progress made and make tweaks to keep moving toward building resilience.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

#Empathy

I can’t emphasize this enough. The current scarcity of empathy in the world has made it a harder place to navigate. Broken relationships, unhappy employees, and feuding nations are all byproducts of our lack of empathy. Developing empathy, one person at a time, is what can get us to the concept of “World Peace.”

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)

As a Mental Health Advocate, I’d like to meet with anyone who is an Administrator in Middle School or High School. The teen years can be challenging for students. I’d like to discuss how we can partner to increase mental health awareness in schools and find ways to better equip students with coping skills.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They can connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/aruna-krishnan2022

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), #1 best-selling author, syndicated columnist, podcaster, stage 3 cancer survivor, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC. He has interviewed notable celebrities and TV personalities and has been featured on Fox News, The Wrap, and has worked with Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, BuzzFeed, Food Network, WW and Bloomberg. Savio has been invited to cover numerous industry events throughout the U.S. and abroad. His mission is to provide clients, listeners, and viewers alike with tangible takeaways on how to lead a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. Savio pens a weekly newsletter in which he delves into secrets to living smarter by feeding your “three brains” — head, heart, and gut— in the hope of connecting the dots to those sticky parts of our nature that matter to living our best life.

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Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor