Please tell us little more about what you do, your story. Which items in your bag speak directly to your message? Why?
I am a facilitator and positive psychology coach. Through leadership and staff development, I help to make workplaces more conducive for human flourishing. This in turn enhances organisational outcomes.
We each have many stories. One of mine – a traffic accident in which migrant workers who were being transported in a goods vehicle were killed set me on a journey. That journey led to an epiphany: that everyone suffers and it can be difficult for people to care about people on the margins when they have their own struggles. For the first time I felt an expansive Love that included those who hurt others or those who don’t do anything about it. This led to a liberation and joy I had never felt before. And that led me to my current work.
From my bag –
Positive Leadership book – That’s one of the approaches I promote. It’s about honouring the best in people and building virtuous organisations, and achieving extraordinary results. The other approach I promote is servant leadership. Such approaches can transform our world in a very positive way.
Red saga seeds – I sometimes give these away to clients and others. They can imbue it with their own meaning. My life’s work is about planting seeds of Love and wisdom.
Paper butterfly – An elderly man made me this when I gave up my seat to him on public transport! He also taught me how to make paper flowers! I limit handphone use. If I had been looking at my phone, I wouldn’t have seen him. That’s one of my invitations to people. Let’s connect to each other face to face, and be open to the wonders of Life that want to reach us, instead of looking into our phones so much.
What are some challenges you face in doing what you do?
Sometimes people think serving the greater good by being more humane and wise doesn’t lead to results they need to achieve. The research shows that such approaches lead to extraordinary results. They are also more sustainable. We are destroying our world and the lives of many if we are short-sighted and achieve our goals with little consideration for HOW we do it; how we treat each other and the weakest in society when we do it.
Reaching more like-hearted leaders/influencers – If I can partner more of them, we can make a bigger difference together, and faster. Our world needs urgent transformation and we can help this happen in our own corner of the world – in our workplaces. (When I say “leaders”, I don’t only mean people in positions of formal leadership. Servant leaders come in all forms. Their spirit of love and service is what gives them power.)
Just being heard amidst the information overload, call of materialism, speed and busy-ness out there.
Has there been an idea or message that has changed your life? How has it changed you?
Love is the most transformative, healing and liberating force in the world. This has changed me profoundly. I value people and relationships much more than I did when I was younger. I used to be very task-oriented. The essence of my life and work is Love.
We notice the cutout of a newspaper article in your bag. Why do you carry it with you? What does it represent?
That newspaper article was about a girl who had committed suicide because she got 2 Bs in her O levels. The rest were distinctions. She left a suicide note saying she was a disappointment. Her mother also committed suicide after her daughter did. I was bringing the article to show it to someone. It represents the need for us as a society to ask ourselves what kind of society we want.
Your beautiful scarf has a meaningful story behind it, do you mind sharing it with us?
I grew up as a perfectionist and focused on fixing flaws. It’s taken me a long time to learn to be more accepting of imperfection, and also view mistakes more constructively.
This is a Saori scarf. Saori is a method of weaving which embraces imperfection. There are no mistakes in Saori; only discoveries. Saori honours the difference between a machine and human being. This is a big part of my reminder to the world. Where dehumanisation has taken place, my work helps to resurrect the human being. Unlike many weaving methods, it’s easy and accessible for all, including people with disabilities. I value such inclusiveness. I bought it in Chiangmai at a place called Baan Sanook. People with disabilities made my scarf.
When I travel, I seek transformation – for myself or others. Oh – I’ve created a set of travel reflection cards that can help people get more out of their travels through reflecting and sharing. Looking for a like-hearted publisher.
We’re strong believers in the power of stories to bring people together. How do stories inform how you live and/or work?
My story helps me remember how amazing and miraculous life is. I remember that all human beings have (often secret) stories. I try to surface this in my work…and wherever possible, invite people to be witnesses and celebrants of each other’s stories. Hearing someone’s story can help us understand them better and show more kindness and appreciation. I use picture books and movies to share messages with others. These can be powerful vehicles for profound truths.
What role does digital play in your life?
A measured role. Of course, it’s very useful to get things done quickly, to learn, to share and to connect with people. However I prefer face to face conversations. And when I’m having a conversation, I put the phone away. I enjoy the beauty of heart to heart, eye to eye connection. I quit walking and using my phone a few years ago. I want to stay connected to Life around me. And amazing things happen because of this. I have reunited three lost dogs on three occasions, for instance. I want to use my phone even less!
There’s a lot of great info out there. Yet I don’t want the illusion that I have internalised something just because I read it quickly online. How am I reflecting on and living what’s useful? That guides me. It can take a loooong time just to live out one inspirational quotation I read online!
If you could concoct a recipe for happiness, what would it look like?
Love + Service + Growth + Wisdom + Awareness we have Finite Time = True Happiness
Visit Vadivu’s website www.joyworks.sg or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org