Looking around me at the women whom I came into contact with through my high-powered work, so many of them seemed, like me, to feel dissatisfied deep down within. They were working in a male orientated world and had adapted male values and attitudes to make it. They denied and suppress their innate femininity, killing off what was most precious in them. Worst of all, they had lost not only their self-respect but also that of those they worked with.
I realised the answer was not for women to leave the work place. Instead we needed to regain those qualities that made us womanly and integrate them into our daily, domestic and working lives. It was all upside.
Around this time I met a very powerful woman in Indian politics. She commanded respect in a way no other woman whom I had met did. She was successful on her terms and never compromised, used or abused her femininity. Each time I met her she would tell me stories about how she got things done. The first one went like this.
As a young woman in politics she was given the unenviable role of arranging water to be piped to a very remote village in the Himalayas. Each of the previous (male) incumbents of her post had failed. Some had tried bribery, some had tried bullying, and some had not even bothered to start this mammoth project. When she visited the village she saw how hard the life was for the women who had to carry the water across the valley. She gave her word that the piped water would come. She would not let them down and she had absolutely no idea what to do to make it happen. She thought about it for many days and then came up with a plan. Despite the impossibility of the task, she succeeded.
The way she did it was such a graceful solution and one that I have varied again and again over the years. She telephoned the (male) Chief Minister to invite him to come and officially open the new water pipe and got a date set in his diary for it. After that, it was plain sailing. The Chief Minister’s staff were so enthused by all the positive PR that he would get for this project that they saw to it that the budget was approved, the money sent, the contractors paid and so on. To this day, the women in that valley call her "the lady of the water."
What I love about this story is that she found a way to work which was creative and honoured all the people involved. Now, that’s what I call grace.
In my own life though, I just didn’t know where to start. I decided to take it one day at a time. It began to dawn on me that grace was a state of being which came when I opened up to all the wonders in life. It was when I felt at peace with, and within, myself so much so that I didn’t react to what was going on around me. It was when I included everybody in the picture.
Being graceful was not an esoteric concept either. It was highly practical and affected my behaviour at a very deep level. I noticed that it became a virtuous circle. When I wasn’t needy or pushy, people responded to me differently so that I became their calm reference point. The atmosphere changed to one which people wanted to be in. They became more relaxed; I became more relaxed. Nagging and begging became a thing of the past. We now had a win:win situation.
Being graceful opened up opportunities and my life took on a magical quality to it. I discovered that it was true what Yogi Bhajan had said: "when a woman maintains her grace everything is possible."
If you want to see how much more is possible in your life when you are graceful here are four areas of your life to start with.
Don’t just be polite for the sake of it. Please, say it with a genuine smile. Listen with your full attention to what the other person is saying, without putting your own story into the picture. A key aspect to work on is how much your behaviour is based on your insecurities you felt as a child. The benchmark is "did I just make today more wonderful for that person?"
From the ancient yogic scriptures to all the world’s religions, there are codes of conduct which give a moral backdrop to our lives. It is not a question of can I do this and not get caught, or how far can I push the boundary. The moral code is within you. The benchmark is "can I sleep peacefully tonight?"
What do you stand for? What do you represent to the outside world? Standards create the structure of your life and standards are built on what you are committed to. Integrity is the foundation. The benchmark is: "how much can I be trusted?"
We each have our own way to express our identity in this world. Our style is a discreet language which impacts our surroundings subliminally. The beauty of your own style reflects how comfortable you are within yourself.
How do you describe your style? Is your style noisy, untidy, trashy or crude? Straighten this up and start being graceful.
Do you dress to display your sexuality and sensuality, or to radiate your grace? A quick test is ask yourself "what do people remember about me: what I was wearing or who I am?" The benchmark is "how much does my life flow with ease?"
101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life Volume 2 is a book put together by David Riklan and is a collection of articles from leading self-help experts such as John Gray, Bob Proctor and Jack Canfield. I was asked to write an article for the book. Here is the article in full. For more information about the book visit this website.