My journey in business was born from a difficult time in my life.
At 22 years old, whilst trying to overcome a number of personal challenges, I found myself going through a dark period of depression.
With very low feelings of self-worth, I was unable to hold down a job, further compounding the feelings of isolation and powerlessness.
Eventually, I found work as a carer in a local nursing home and realised that many of the people I was looking after were also feeling powerless and isolated. Helping our most vulnerable sparked a renewed sense of purpose and passion in my life. Being a carer is about so much more than just turning up and assisting with the day to day tasks.
At 24, I saw the opportunity to take this passion and make a greater impact. I launched Afea Care Services, a care business driven by an underlying mission to empower people and support our vulnerable communities. I think there is a lot to be said for having a purpose in life. It creates a deep and intrinsic sense of inspiration, lasting longer than a motivation boost.
A lot of truly successful entrepreneurs are inspired by a sense of purpose and passion to effect change. Without that drive in the early years, it would have been easy to succumb to the pressures and give up.
I launched with a fearlessness and ignorance of the work ahead of me, having nothing to lose and driven by a passion to improve the lives of those in care. As we mark the 10-year anniversary since I launched the business, I can reflect on both business and personal growth. From a one-man band, I’ve built Afea into a team of 34 full-time staff and 300 carers, with 100% compounding year-on-year growth. In that time, I learnt to love and care for myself as I would others and was able to heal from my depression. As CEOs and leaders, we are constantly giving of ourselves and we cannot give from an empty place. It is so critical to care for ourselves in the process of growing an enterprise.
Despite our success, as with any business, Afea had its fair share of set-backs and failures along the way. We’ve experienced challenges with growth, with staffing and with having to cannibalize the business we had spent years building, once the National Disability Insurance Scheme and My Aged Care schemes were introduced.
To manage myself through change and best manage my team, the most powerful tools I’ve incorporated are meditation and mindfulness. Taking the time out to reconnect and find stillness within myself is vital. Whenever times are stressful or I have a major decision to make, I’ll prioritise taking the time out to find this stillness and just sit with the issue at hand. Meditation takes us into a heightened state of relaxation. My best creative output and contributions have come when I have been truly relaxed and present in the moment, with the people and task at hand.
Meditation trains us to be present.
I have also found that my response to anything negative is so much more balanced during the times that I am regularly meditating. It helps you to take a more neutral stance when things are getting rough in business, as they do.
Extensive research has been conducted into mindfulness and meditation, yet in business culture, being ‘busy’ is often worn as a badge of achievement. That frantic energy of being busy seldom leads to the best decisions being made and can be detrimental over time to health. Mindfulness meditation, even when practised for as little as eight weeks, has been found to significantly reduce worry, anxiety and depression. Studies have even shown positive structural changes in the brain as a result of incorporating these into your routine.
Countless business owners fall victim to burnout – failing to prioritise their health and wellbeing. While thought leaders like Arianna Huffington have begun to challenge this viewpoint, culturally it is yet to be widely accepted that we can embrace time, space, meditation, and even regular sunshine and fresh air to maintain our health and mental clarity.
From where I began at 22, feeling hopeless and isolated, to now celebrating the 10-year anniversary of a business I’ve poured my heart and soul into – those three things – purpose, mindfulness and meditation, have propelled me forward and carried me through the challenges. Also, being able to make a real difference in someone’s life. We often don’t realise that when we open ourselves to helping others, we can heal ourselves. Afea has helped on average 500 families each week and are looking to grow this to 700 in 2018. BFM
Esha Oberoi is the Founder and CEO of Afea Care Services which empowers people to live their best life and continue living in the comfort of their own homes. Servicing on average 500 aged and disability care clients each week, Afea is at the forefront of best practice in health, ongoing innovation and a truly customer centric experience. For more information visit www.afea.com.au