What do you get when you live in three countries in the same year? An experience of a lifetime, and lessons in resilience, gratitude and grit.
Author of “The True Story of the Ugly Duckling”, Executive Coach and Leadership Development Professional Aditi Patil grew up in India and spent most of her adult life in Mumbai. It seemed like she had it all – a loving family, a successful career, and a growing passion towards coaching and developing people which she had recently transformed into a successful business.
Lessons in Resilience…
Then in 2013, her husband’s job took them on a whirlwind tour. First stop was Malaysia! The setting changed suddenly. “To the world, it felt like I was going to visit these amazing places, and I truly was. But to me, I felt like I had been stripped off my identity. I suddenly became a stay-at-home mom in a place I didn’t know anyone. I was without a support system, and my husband was traveling a lot for his work. The first 6 months were agonizing as I struggled to help my kids and myself cope.”
The turning point came one day, when her Mom reminded her. “You are still the same person you were. And you can do anything you set your mind to.”
“The one thing I learned from this move is you can build yourself up no matter where you are. All you need is to dig deep and begin.”
With those words taken to heart, Aditi set about building her support network and finding avenues to utilize her talents. Due to lack of a working visa, she focused on volunteering opportunities. One such opportunity led her to one of the most fulfilling experiences she had working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She led training programs for their leaders and mentored their women leaders. She transformed her restlessness into purpose by creating a meditation circle for expatriate women, where she led free meditations and workshops related to self-development, powerful thinking and gratitude.
But we just moved!
Just as she was settling in Malaysia, her husband’s job took them to Singapore. “I was excited to move to Singapore as I thought there might be better opportunities for my career.” But they hadn’t even finished unpacking their stuff when her husband got a career opportunity in the United States. It was too good to refuse.
“If there is one thing I learned from this move, it was how to stay nimble and not too attached to any place. Life is too short to let go of opportunities to see the world!” My friends thought we were crazy. Maybe, we were. We started the year in Malaysia, moved to Singapore, and ended the year in the United States.”
She arrived in the U.S. in 2015 and moved to Wisconsin with her family. She was very excited to come to the U.S. as she knew she was eligible for a working visa. The next step was finding a job. Fortunately, in less than one year of arriving, she was able to get a job which was very closely aligned with her passions and talents.
Lessons in Gratitude…
Wisconsin was a wonderful place and she was able to not only work at a meaningful job, but also contribute to the community. She volunteered as a member of the diversity and inclusion committee of the YMCA, and also became a community columnist for the Post Crescent.
“I felt like I had truly found myself. For the first time in many years, I felt settled and grateful for the community we lived in and all the opportunities that existed around me.” It was in Wisconsin, that she also published her children’s book on self-esteem called, “The True Story of the Ugly Duckling.” The book is a retelling of the story of the ugly duckling and is a tale of transformation through self-love.
“If there was one thing that I had to draw on during all my relocation experiences, it was the feeling of being confident and comfortable in my own skin. I had to be ok with being me, and that is what I wanted to convey through this book. I didn’t have to become someone else or fit in with the crowd to succeed, and in my book the ugly duckling does just that!
Lessons in Grit…
We ain’t done moving yet!
Two years after living in Wisconsin, the family moved again, this time to the Seattle, Washington area. The move was great for the family. By this time, the kids had adapted to moving and thrived during change. Aditi felt once again that she had been sucked out of her comfort zone and put into an unfamiliar place where she didn’t know anyone. She had to quit her job and once again found herself at the start line.
“If there was one thing I learnt from this move, it was that every move is different. I could draw on some lessons from earlier moves, but each move had its own unique challenges. It was then that I realized that mere resilience was not enough. I had to demonstrate true grit.”
For Aditi, grit meant not just starting over in a new place, but also giving back to the community and helping others like herself. It was then she realized that there were many women just like her who had moved multiple times and she could help them as well. Not only did she start volunteering at local associations to help women who had just moved to the area, she landed an assignment where she now helps women moving to the area because of their husbands’ work. She empowers and coaches them to get clarity on their career and find meaningful work. Her clients are people from all over the world as well as from the U.S.
“They are extremely talented women who have gone through the same experiences that I have, and they just want to have a
meaningful career and life. The fact that I am there to support them in one of their most vulnerable moments is important to me. I listen to them and I can truly “get” where they are coming from.”
Aditi’s moves have given her a unique perspective which now fuels her passion and purpose as she works with her clients. She
believes that her most fulfilling moments are those when her clients call her to talk about how confident they were in a particular interview or how something that she shared with them helped them land a job.
“I never planned to move out of Mumbai, let alone India. I never thought I would move across 4 countries in 5 years and be challenged out of my comfort zone. Yet, I am glad I did.”
Aditi has many plans for the future. Her other passion is working with leaders in organizations to be more effective and accelerate their leadership potential. She is working on many opportunities which now allow her to do the same as well. She also leads workshops on storytelling for leaders and speaks at conferences around the U.S.
The most common question people ask Aditi after knowing about her relocation history is, “How long do you plan to stay here?” And her answer is always: “I am here now. That is all that matters today.”
“In the end, it does not matter where you came from, what you did, how far you have come, or how much farther you have to go.
What matters is TODAY.
What will you do TODAY?
What will you do TODAY that your future self will thank you for?
What will you do TODAY to contribute your talents?
What will you do TODAY to make the community around you a better place?
What will you do TODAY?”
Editor: Mandeep Rana