Financial Express Online talked to Priya Kumar, who has been a motivational speaker for the past 26 years.
Self-transformation: Coronavirus pandemic and the resultant lockdown and remote working situation gave many people a lot of time to introspect, to review their decisions and to learn more about themselves. During this, many came face to face with issues related to their mental or physical health. It was also a time when people found a lot of free time in their hands, and tried to harness this to fulfil the goals that they had pushed aside due to lack of time. Many were able to do it. But many others also realised that it was not lack of time that was stopping them from reaching their goals, but rather different physical and psychological factors. And this is where self-transformation comes into play.
As many things changed with the pandemic, an increased trend around self-improvement has also been seen across the globe. This self-improvement has not only been towards professional life, like upskilling – as has also been witnessed in large numbers – but also in personal aspects, like mental and physical fitness. And self-transformation has been playing a key role to augment self-improvement during this time. Simply speaking, self-transformation is the act of transforming oneself in a systematic manner to attain the desired end goal. The end goal can vary from person to person with no limit on what it should be.
But this definition of self-transformation barely encapsulates the massive concept. To understand it in a deeper manner, Financial Express Online talked to Priya Kumar, who has been a motivational speaker for the past 26 years. She is also the Founder and Chief of Content at Genius Inside, which was founded earlier this year as a self-transformation platform to help people achieve their goals virtually.
“I have worked in the public world for 26 years and it has always been in person and 26 years is a very long time to know whether what you’re doing is working or not. The industry has grown from $40 billion two years ago to $80 billion now. That is a jump of 100%, which clearly indicates that people are reaching out for self-help. But the problem is that most of the platforms teach theory about self-transformation or self-help. Genius Inside aims to fill that gap, and it aims to help people apply what they learn to see the results,” she explains.
Self-transformation is a journey towards a particular end goal. But what are these goals? “The goal is whatever one wants to set it to be. Somebody could want better finances, while someone else may be looking to improve their relationships. A third person could be looking for promotion or for doubling their profits as an entrepreneur. It could be anything,” Priya explained.
Genius Inside has a 26-week (6-month) course at the moment, and it is taking people in in batches. Since everyone’s goal is different, it is a point of deliberation how the same course for a batch of people can help them. “We say in spirituality, the path is the same. The path is creativity and innovation and you can apply it in every single area. I’ll give you a path such that you’re able to take the concept and tweak it and apply to whatever destination you have chosen for yourself. I have had batches with very diverse people, and each one of them had their own diverse goals, but the journey is the same. That is the beauty of it, and the journey is based on unleashing the genius,” she said.
The motivational speaker has written a whopping 15 books so far, and is now also coming up with a book that would look at 52 traits of a genius and how anyone can become one, based on in-depth studies on what it took to become a genius. She found that while the 52 traits varied from person to person, six traits were common to all, and this is the foundation of the course that has been started by Genius Inside.
Priya believes that the mindset of a genius can be taken and applied to any area, and the result would be the same, which is why she has invited Ayushmann Khurrana and Sonu Nigam to speak to people.
She also spoke about how the landscape of learning and development has changed in this digital era that we have entered at a rapid pace due to the pandemic. “People are trying to find answers to questions they would not want to ask each other because it’s also a sign of vulnerability. For example, people don’t know how to handle loneliness. They don’t know how to handle setbacks and doubts and inhibitions, and there has been a high level of insecurity which even the best of leadership felt. For instance, I used to get calls from CEOs. I started executive coaching in the pandemic because they would tell me that even they did not know the answers and their teams were demanding answers from them. And so, people went to the digital platforms to look for answers. Like now, even before somebody goes to a doctor, they will find out everything on Google about their symptoms and what they think is wrong with them. They have found a friend on this digital platform, somebody who will give them answers. So the reach on digital has been huge. People have been investing from their own pockets which we have never seen, and I don’t think this will be withdrawn,” she said.
There have been phases during the pandemic when people hit collective rock bottoms, about a couple of months into the lockdown. And since the work from home or hybrid working model is ongoing, many people are still finding it hard to deal with this reality and adapting to this change. So how can self-transformation help here?
“I believe that the pandemic is not the only crisis that we have seen in life, and it will also not be the only one we see. There are bigger challenges, but this was just one that all of us experienced at the same time. Just like how it is said for physical health that prevention is better than cure, meaning people should always take care of their bodies, similar is the case for mental standing. I believe you need to have a daily dose of positive inputs for your mind, like how for the body you need food and rest. So courses on self-transformation reshape, reform and transform you, making it very difficult to go back to the state where your mind was not able to deal with problems,” she explained.
But when should one go for self-transformation and when does one need therapy? She explained, “Therapy is if there is a problem you are not able to cope with. When the problem has gone deep inside where it’s affecting your health, affecting your decision making and it’s also affecting other people. So it’s like now you need help and that is where therapy comes in, which helps you first resolve basic issues first before going ahead. As per statistics, every Indian will be depressed at some point or the other in their life. But it is important to know if it is a phase or if it has become something deep rooted. If it’s a phase, then a pep talk will make them feel good and better. But if it’s rooted deeper that nothing is working, then people can seek some professional help. They can also start small like talking with a friend, and if that does not help, go to a counsellor. If a counsellor doesn’t help, get an expert and so on.”
Priya believes that even strong professionals need help. She cited examples of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs when he was alive having somebody to coach them because they need another mind to help them complete their journey, and to assure them that nothing would go wrong. “I have seen people of such high morale and stature get into setbacks and pitfalls that they just can’t get up from it. Again, we can’t do it because they and their God knows what it took for them. They have made this whole journey and just towards the tail-end of it, if they fail, it is an invalidation of the entire journey.”
Currently, Priya and the other founders of Genius Inside are planning to expand the platform worldwide. They already have partnerships in place with Indian content creators, and in order to expand internationally, they will be looking to tie up with global content creators. “One of the biggest visions is to take the wisdom, the ability and the technology from India to the world, because generally what happens is that people from the West come here, put in the commitment and research into developing ideas that are fundamentally ours and then come back and sell them to us, especially when it comes to spirituality,” she said, adding that this was one particular personal drive she has. As per her plans, Genius Inside would have branches all over the world, but the source, origin and headquarters would remain India itself.
She is also trying to reach out to institutions and to the government, seeking change in the education system. “I feel that education must allow applicability on a daily basis. If I am not able to come back home and apply what I am learning naturally as a part of my growth, then something is missing. Still there is a big portion of education missing and that is personal development. We have such amazing, brilliant and intelligent minds all moving abroad today. You ask any child who has a little bit of authority over their parents and their finances, and they wish to move abroad. Why? For experience and opportunity. So why is that missing here? We can change that if we can cultivate their minds, not just with information, but also with application. That is the opportunity that I want to bring and I really want to revolutionise the education system with that,” she said.