Making success a habit

Making success a habit

Priya Kumar, corporate trainer, motivational speaker and recent author, is a petite package of surprises. She does things differently. For starters, her corporate training sessions are way unusual. The participants are not subjected to boring presentations or routine games. They learn to walk on fire, broken glass pieces and — to just make it their day — bend a steel rod with their neck!

For Priya, training is not just another business but a passion that she would do ‘for free’. But the fact that her clients — companies in the Fortune 500 list — are willing to pay her price reinforces her credibility. Priya has conducted workshops across India, Europe, South East Asia and the Middle East.

Unusual threat

She swung by this unusual career path almost predestined. About her journey, Priya says, “I grew up in a middle class family. My dad, a very strict man, told me when I was young that he would hand me over to the cops if I ever stood second in class! Well, he left me with no option but to stand first. I always say that I owe my success to my father because he pushed me that extra mile, and every time I did that, I moved ahead.”

Spiritual lessons

If her father pushed her that extra mile, her grandfather taught her the value of being a good human being. “My grandfather would pray for anyone who needed help. Once a neighbour was critically ill and so my grandfather lit a lamp for him at home. He sat in prayer for three days until the man recovered. I was upset because I thought my grandfather was suffering. I asked him why he needed to do such a thing. He replied, ‘ I don’t need permission or position to pray for others or to do good’. That sentence has defined me ever since,” she says.

Her encounter with Dr Niranjan Patel, a retired HR manager who lived in her building complex, led her closer to her calling. He used to write for a supplement of a leading newspaper. Priya sometimes, suggested ideas for his articles. Their work led her to help him organise workshops on combating substance abuse. Once, there were seven workshops lined up and on the eve of the first one, Dr Patel succumbed to a heart attack. The shock spurred Priya to complete the workshops as a mission dedicated to him. This led to more workshops. She did several certification courses along the way to hone her skills.

But it was a broken relationship and a failed business partnership that segued her journey to the shamans of Europe. She took part in 13 rituals with the shamans of Winterswijk, Netherlands that saw her cloistered in a sweat lodge, talking to a ‘talking stick’ and cleansing her system with salt water among several other things. The rituals, she says, changed her perspective and helped her make peace with everything. She used her newfound experiences — whose contents are “a result of a lot of scientific research work and ancient wisdom” — in her workshops.

Conquering fear

As a certified firewalker, she has helped Rakhi Sawant walk on burning embers, which incidentally are made of handpicked wood that is smooth and free of nails, for the show Rakhi Ka Swayamvar. Priya has never had to force anyone to walk on fire; the magic of motivation is usually enough.

“At the beginning of the session, I ask how many are willing to perform the tasks. A few hands go up but at the end of the show, almost all will have accomplished the hitherto impossible. It takes them precisely three seconds to make up their minds.” As she emphasises, “There is nothing that we cannot do. The only thing stopping us is our fear.”

Priya seems to have taken her father’s threat seriously enough to be ‘first’ in whatever she does. She sure does not want to be handed to the cops!

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