I am a farm-grown Canadian girl from the prairies of Manitoba, living on the coast of South Carolina. A few years ago, I married a beautiful man I met during a retreat in Costa Rica, and became a step-mother to his three children after the death of his wife, six years ago. I also built my own business from the ground up, starting at 19 years old, never looking back.
I am a Certified Facilitator of Access Consciousness, which means I travel the world giving seminars, as well as facilitating online classes, speaking on the subject of conscious living. I have always been interested in conscious living and this career matched who I am as a person. I am 25 years old and I have a full-plate. But I love it that way!
I have built my business to gross over $300,000 per year, each year earning more than the last. I travel the world with my husband, who is in the same line of work, and we try to bring the kids along on the trips, as often as we can. Only a few short years ago I had almost no clue how I was going to create anything sustainable in this field. I have used the tools and values I have learned in Access Consciousness to strengthen myself in order to increase my business and make it a success. I believe that the stronger you are as a person, the larger your business can become, and no matter your age, it is never too late to begin the adventure of business.
1. Be Willing to Take Risks
I realized that if was going to create a profitable and fun business I was going to have to become comfortable taking huge risks, personally and financially. Over and over again. As a species, our brains are designed to protect us from risk, and keep us in mediocrity. This protects and maintains us as a species. For most of us adversity towards risk is a really difficult thing to overcome. It was almost paralyzing to me at first. But with practice, and the willingness to see that risk usually meant reward, I became more confident in my ability to make decisions.
I wouldn't have been able to survive without the constant willingness to re-invent myself and choose beyond my comfort zone. For example, I had a class in Israel and I had spent $10,000, booking plane tickets for my husband and I, booking a venue for the class, a hotel for us, when my host told me that no one was interested in coming to the class. At that moment, I realized I had to change my host, change the type of workshops I was doing, and reinvent the whole trip. We ended up going, facilitating the classes, and were surprised with the success of the last-minute changes. When you take risks, you begin to develop a trust in you that carries into all areas of life.
2. Learning How to Speak Other People's Language
In business, it is important to realize how other people function and how they preferred to be talked to. I see so many people having business conversations with people using their idea of how they, themselves would like to be spoken to. When you meet someone, you have to ask yourself this question: “What can this person receive from me, and how would they like to be spoken to?" Some people like to get right down to business, while others need small talk or compliments before they are comfortable getting started. If you pay attention and honor the other person's way of functioning, you often get farther than you can imagine, and create strong relationships.
3. Remembering to Use my Gender to my Advantage
In business, there are times where it works to be aggressive. I have built my ability to stick up for myself through some big errors. As women, we are encouraged to be aggressive to keep up with men. I am willing to do this when I know it is what will create the greatest result. But I also am willing to be myself as a woman, and to speak to the world as I see it.
We are taught that we have to be like men to work with them, and I don't see that working very well in my experience. Now, this may be a controversial way of looking at things from a feminist perspective, but I believe that women are every bit as capable as men, but also totally different. Each sex has something different at their disposal. Why should feel we have to become like the other sex when we can use the gifts of our gender, or use whatever approach works best according to the situation?
4. Ask: What will this choice create in five years?
If you turn right on your way to work, instead of turning left, it has the possibility to change your whole day. If your whole day changes, this changes your whole week. Your whole week can change your whole month, and your whole month, your whole year. Each choice we make creates an entirely different future.
So many of us make our choices automatic, or we choose only within a small window for fear of being judged, or for fear of failing. You build for the future by looking at how each choice you make today, creates an entirely different future.
Look at the future you would like to have. When making a choice, ask yourself, “If I make this choice, what will my life be like in five years?" You don't have to work out all the details, but you will know intuitively what your choice will create. If the choices you are making today match the future you would like to have, you are planting seeds for a greater future. Ask yourself, “What can I do today to prepare for the future I know is possible?" You may surprise yourself with how easy it is to shift your focus to the future, so that you are always building what you know you are capable of.
"Sh*t!" my daughter exclaimed as she dropped her iPad to the floor. A little bit of context; my daughter Victoria absolutely loves her iPad. And as I watched her bemoan the possible destruction of her favorite device, I thought to myself, "If I were in her position, I'd probably say the exact same thing."
In the Rastegar family, a word is only a bad word if used improperly. This is a concept that has almost become a family motto. Because in our household, we do things a little differently. To put it frankly, our practices are a little unconventional. Completely safe, one hundred percent responsible- but sure, a little unconventional.
And that's because my husband Ari and I have always felt akin in one major life philosophy; we want to live our lives our way. We have dedicated ourselves to a lifetime of questioning the world around us. And it's that philosophy that has led us to some unbelievable discoveries, especially when it comes to parenting.
Ari was an English major. And if there's one thing that can be said about English majors, it's that they can be big-time sticklers for the rules. But Ari also thinks outside of the box. And here's where these two characteristics meet. Ari was always allowed to curse as a child, but only if the word fit an appropriate and relevant context. This idea came from Ari's father (his mother would have never taken to this concept), and I think this strange practice really molded him into the person he is today.
But it wasn't long after we met that I discovered this fun piece of Ari Rastegar history, and I got to drop a pretty awesome truth bomb on Ari. My parents let me do the same exact thing…
Not only was I allowed to curse as a child, but I was also given a fair amount of freedom to do as I wanted. And the results of this may surprise you. You see, despite the lack of heavy regulating and disciplining from my parents, I was the model child. Straight A's, always came home for curfew, really never got into any significant trouble- that was me. Not trying to toot my own horn here, but it's important for the argument. And don't get the wrong impression, it's not like I walked around cursing like a sailor.
Perhaps I was allowed to curse whenever I wanted, but that didn't mean I did.
And this is where we get to the amazing power of this parenting philosophy. In my experience, by allowing my own children to curse, I have found that their ability to self-regulate has developed in an outstanding fashion. Over the past few years, Victoria and Kingston have built an unbelievable amount of discipline. And that's because our decision to allow them to curse does not come without significant ground rules. Cursing must occur under a precise and suitable context, it must be done around appropriate company, and the privilege cannot be overused. By following these guidelines, Victoria and Kingston are cultivating an understanding of moderation, and at a very early age are building a social awareness about when and where certain types of language are appropriate. And ultimately, Victoria and Kingston are displaying the same phenomenon present during my childhood. Their actual instances of cursing are extremely low.
And beneath this parenting strategy is a deeper philosophy. Ari and I first and foremost look at parenting as educators. It is not our job to dictate who our children will be, how they shall behave, and what their future should look like.
We are not dictators; we are not imposing our will on them. They are autonomous beings. Their future is in their hands, and theirs alone.
Rather, we view it as our mission to show our children what the many possibilities of the world are and prepare them for the litany of experiences and challenges they will face as they develop into adulthood. Now, when Victoria and Kingston come across any roadblocks, they have not only the tools but the confidence to handle these tensions with pride, independence, and knowledge.
And we have found that cursing is an amazing place to begin this relationship as educators. By allowing our children to curse, and gently guiding them towards the appropriate use of this privilege, we are setting a groundwork of communication that will eventually pay dividends as our children grow curious of less benign temptations; sex, drugs, alcohol. There is no fear, no need to slink behind our backs, but rather an open door where any and all communication is rewarded with gentle attention and helpful wisdom.
The home is a sacred place, and honesty and communication must be its foundation. Children often lack an ability to communicate their exact feelings. Whether out of discomfort, fear, or the emotional messiness of adolescence, children can often be less than transparent. Building a place of refuge where our children feel safe enough to disclose their innermost feelings and troubles is, therefore, an utmost priority in shepherding their future. Ari and I have come across instances where our children may have been less than truthful with a teacher, or authority figure simply because they did not feel comfortable disclosing what was really going on. But with us, they know that honesty is not only appreciated but rewarded and incentivized. This allows us to protect them at every turn, guard them against destructive situations, and help guide and problem solve, fully equipped with the facts of their situation.
And as crazy as it all sounds- I really believe in my heart that the catalogue of positive outcomes described above truly does stem from our decision to allow Victoria and Kingston to curse freely.
I know this won't sit well with every parent out there. And like so many things in life, I don't advocate this approach for all situations. In our context, this decision has more than paid itself off. In another, it may exacerbate pre-existing challenges and prove to be only a detriment to your own family's goals.
As the leader of your household, this is something that you and you alone must decide upon with intentionality and wisdom.
Ultimately, Ari and I want to be the kind of people our children genuinely want to be around. Were we not their parents, I would hope that Victoria and Kingston would organically find us interesting, warm, kind, funny, all the things we aspire to be for them each and every day.
We've let our children fly free, and fly they have. They are amazing people. One day, when they leave the confines of our home, they will become amazing adults. And hopefully, some of the little life lessons and eccentric parenting practices we imparted upon them will serve as a support for their future happiness and success.