Ten years ago, I moved to India to launch the Embrace incubator. My team and I had no idea what lay ahead of us; we were only equipped with our passion and dedication to make a difference in the world. A decade later, Embrace has saved over 300,000 babies around the world. It’s been a tumultuous ride – most things did not go as planned, and the company nearly shut down numerous times.
Ten years ago, I believed my goal was to save others. I never could have imagined where I would be now, or the gifts that this journey would bestow on me personally. I didn’t know back then then that starting Embrace would lead me on a profound journey of self-discovery.
Here are five of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the last decade:
1) You can’t control outcomes. Accept that life is not linear, and learn to be flexible and go with the flow. When things don’t go as expected, there may be a larger plan at hand. Setbacks are a window into your soul if you are willing to grow. Set your intentions, give your best efforts — and then let go of the outcome. In the multiple instances when Embrace nearly shut down due to external circumstances, I realized that the intention and love I put behind my work was even more important than the outcome. Similarly, in surfing, I know I can’t control the waves – but I can pursue my passion, immerse myself in the beauty of nature, and have fun — regardless of the outcome.
2) Act from love, not fear. When you do things from a place of love, contribution, and growth (rather than seeking certainty or significance), the universe will conspire in helping you to achieve your goals. I’ve only recently learned that true courage comes not from being a warrior, but from keeping my heart open even in the moments I am most afraid. In my journey at Embrace, whenever I got scared or started doubting myself, I would reconnect to our mission – to the love I had for the babies and moms we were trying to help. In the moments when I get scared out on the waves, I’ve learned to have love for myself by simply accepting the fear with kindness, rather than needing it to go away. This simple practice, while hugely challenging, has been the single most important practice in changing my relationship with fear.
3) Trust your intuition. For years, I trusted others over trusting my gut feelings. I now know to listen to myself — and to hone my intuition through being in touch with my center. This can be as simple as doing something grounding. For me this comes in the form of meditation, yoga and surfing. Stick to a daily practice of something that keeps you centered. Remember you can always come back to your breath and your body.
4) Be kind to yourself. The most important relationship in the world is the one you have with yourself. Have compassion for yourself, and accept all of your feelings (especially the ones you don’t like) with loving awareness. Know you are enough and worthy of love just as you are — just for being you. You don’t have to do anything to earn this love. You are not defined by external successes or failures. You are defined by your intentions, your values, and everything you stand for on the inside. It’s taken a lot of falls for me to learn this. The beauty of nearly losing everything is realizing that none of it matters – because nothing external defines me. Falling over and over again on the waves has also taught me to be kind to myself in the process of learning. Doing so makes it even more glorious when I do catch waves!
5) Remember that life happens for you. For years, I looked at every event in my life and asked “how am I not enough?” Now, I ask myself a very different question: “how can I see the perfection and grace of this moment?” I’ve witnessed so many miracles in my greatest moments of despair. When things felt like they were completely out of my control, I would remind myself to surrender and the right path would be right in front of me. I now believe in the larger plan of the universe in guiding us towards our highest purpose.
In 2018, Embrace was going through an acquisition that ultimately failed because the buyer ended up shutting down. In my darkest moment, I stumbled across a Netflix documentary about Tony Robbins and his event “Date with Destiny.” I was so moved by his work, I cried beginning to end. I then wrote “attend Date with Destiny” at the top of the list of things I hoped to do someday. A few weeks later, as we were winding down the company, I received a phone call totally out of the blue from someone who works closely with Tony — inviting me to Date with Destiny as Tony’s guest. The rest of the year turned into a true date with destiny, as I was able to go on a deep journey of self-discovery, leading me to find true self-love for the first time in my life.
And the icing on the cake is an exciting update I’ll be sharing soon related to this unexpected turn of events that will enable Embrace to save 1 million babies!
Remember to see the perfection of whatever is happening in the moment, especially when you are struggling or when you feel like you’re at your lowest point, for there is often a larger lesson to be learned that will help pave the path for your highest calling in life. Lead with love — and then surrender with the faith that it will all work out as it should.
I’m so grateful for the waves I’ve been blessed with over the last decade, and am dedicating this year to riding the waves of life with love, joy, and courage. I can finally see now how beautiful life is in every moment — as long as we pause long enough to remember this truth.