Resilience Day 5

Resilience – Does your environment help create resiliency in you? (Day 5)

Resilience Day 5

Ensure your environment helps in creating resiliency in you

Making Changes in Colleges & Workplaces

Link: https://www.academicimpressions.com/blog/building-student-resilience-grit/

In our final post, we showcase some real cases of how resiliency can be taught and incorporated at colleges and at the workplace.

Case Study 1: Morrisville State:

  • Morrisville State University is an agricultural and technical college in New York
  • They have rolled out a student strengths inventory to measure non-cognitive student characteristics e.g. self-efficacy, resilience, social comfort, campus engagement etc.
  • The initiative is spear-headed by Dean of Enrollment, Robert Blanchet. The premise behind this inventory is to gauge student’s willingness to engage in campus activities as that is an indicator of student retention.
  • This will help identify students that are likely to succeed and be resilient through college challenges.

Similar Case Studies:

  • The Undergraduate Student Government at Tulane University has a Resilience Cooperative that helps students develop the skills they need to cope with adverse situations.
  • Notre Dame College has a First Generation Center that provides students with resiliency coaching. This is essential to their campus as approximately 40% of their students are the first in their family to attend college.

Case Study 2: Deloitte:

http://ceoroundtable.heart.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/ucm_496856.pdf

  • Deloitte has incorporated a holistic program called Empowered Well-being which helps support their employees through stressful times and to ensure they are able to be focused and innovative at work.
  • They make it a point to “collectively disconnect” during holidays and have a year-end shutdown between Christmas and New Year’s to allow employees to spend time with loved ones.
  • Vitals dashboard allows organization to preemptively identify employees that may be at the risk of burnout through a data-driven approach.
  • The organization provides resources such as Bounce back and Upside of Stress which feature guides and micro-learning to teach employees stress management and mindfulness. The effects are evident: more than 98% of respondents said they benefitted from participating in the program and 100% said they would recommend the course to others.
  • Their Family Leave Program provides greater support for live events and family obligations.
  • Employees are offered two sabbatical programs to allow for career, personal and professional interests exploration.

From these examples, it is evident that implementing resilience is a matter of priority. There are simple yet effective steps we can all take at our organizations to achieve this. Our hope is that through these examples and the previous posts in this series, you have learned about the importance of resiliency and how it can be incorporated into your life. Resilience is also a prime goal of the WINGS mentoring program- you can learn more here: https://wingsforgrowth.org/

Thank you for reading!

About the Author:

Roshni Ramaswamy has recently graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology, majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and a proud mentee of the WINGS Signature Program. She is a Project Engineer at Environmental Planning Specialists. She enjoys sharing her perspectives on mentoring, resilience, academic life, professional development among a myriad other topics. Follow Roshni at the link shared for her viewpoints.

Resilience Day 4

Resilience – How Can We Cultivate Resiliency (Day 4)

 

Resilience Day 4

How Can We Cultivate Resiliency?

Part 1: Start With Yourself

We have learned two main things from researching and speaking with individuals on the topic of resiliency:

  1. Resiliency is important and is widely recognized as an essential personal quality
  2. Not enough is being done in colleges or the workplace to help people develop a resilient mindset

This brings us to our main question- how? How do we cultivate resiliency? We have broken this down into two parts. In this post, we discuss how we can develop resiliency in ourselves and in the next and final post, we discuss how resiliency can be cultivated in colleges and the workplace.

Why You Should Start With Yourself

Resilience enables us to develop techniques that allow us to overcome challenges and adversity (link: https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counsellor-articles/the-importance-of-building-resilience)   We should focus on starting with ourselves because we are most in-tune with what our stressors are and what works best for us to handle those situations. There are several types of resilience that exist in ourselves:

  • Inherent resilience- natural resilience we are born with
  • Adapted resilience- resilience that appears are different stages of our lives and that is activated through difficult experiences in our lives e.g. being laid off, end of a relationship etc.
  • Learnt resilience- resilience that is built up over time and that we learn to activate through difficult experiences. We draw from this when we need, and we can continue to develop this.

We should be focused on building our learnt resilience. Below are some tips on how you can do this.

10 Ways You Can Build Resilience

These tips are based on the book, ‘Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges’ by Dennis Charney and Steven Southwick. Their book presents 10 factors that can help anyone become more resilient. These factors are based on research and true stories of individuals that have overcome extraordinary odds. (Link: https://news.yale.edu/2018/05/03/resilience-science-mastering-lifes-greatest-challenges)

  1. Build Optimism: This is traits based and situational but the idea is to focus on positive things around you and to reframe all negative thoughts. Identify what makes you happy and brings positivity in you and engage in altruistic pursuits.
  2. Redefine Fear: Fear is an opportunity and a certain amount of fear is adaptive. The unknown is what causes us to fear but we need to understand that fear is ubiquitous, and no one escapes its grip. The best way around fear is through it and to conquer fear, one must face fear.
  3. Value System: Strong ethics and altruism are strong pillars of a value system. Aristotle wrote in his book, “Nicomachean Ethics,” that we become by doing just acts. The idea is that the more we do something we know is right, the more we develop moral courage.
  4. Draw On Your Faith: Our faith whether religious or otherwise helps us be mindful and divert our thoughts to something bigger than ourselves. As written in the Bhagavat Gita, “The mind is restless, turbulent, violent and trying to control the mind is like trying to control the wind.” Prayer and faith teaches us to use our minds better than letting our minds use us.
  5. Social Support: Reach out to your family and friends during stressful situations and give back as much as you can. Find networks where you can meet like-minded people to build the support network you need.
  6. Identify a Role Model: Who do you admire? What do they do right? Who do you consider a negative role model? Observe the people around you and figure out what you people believe do well and people don’t to adopt to your personal behavior when handling stress.
  7. Train Your Brain: Train your brain to accept new challenges and consider a learning opportunity.
  8. Sleep Enough: Improper sleep habits can lead to various mental health issues can contribute to a lack of resiliency. (Link: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/sleep-and-mental-health)
  9. Enhance Cognitive & Emotional Flexibility: Developing these skills allow us to accept change as the only constant in our lives and allows us to accept difficult situations which makes us move on faster.
  10. Find Your Purpose: Identifying meaning in your life is a sign of growth and helps you keep grounded.

Here are some additional resources you can use in your path to increased resilience!

About the Author:

Roshni Ramaswamy has recently graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology, majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and a proud mentee of the WINGS Signature Program. She is a Project Engineer at Environmental Planning Specialists. She enjoys sharing her perspectives on mentoring, resilience, academic life, professional development among a myriad other topics. Follow Roshni at the link shared for her viewpoints.

Resiliency: The Professional Take (Day 3)

 

Resilience Day 3

“Resilience is knowing that you are the only one that has the power and the responsibility to pick yourself up.” – Mary Holloway

In this post, we showcase interviews we conducted with professionals of various ages and backgrounds to understand what resiliency means to the working professional. As before, our interviewees are anonymous.


Interview 1: Male professional, Manager in Imports & Exports Industry

Q: In a brief sentence, explain what resiliency means to you.

A: Resiliency means overcoming challenges and to move forward from them.

Q: On a scale of 1-10, how often do you experience stress at your job? Would your colleagues agree?

A: I rate 8 out of 10. My job is quite stressful as it involves working with company management and customers directly and I have to manage all of those relationships. I think I experience more stress than my colleagues because of my role.

Q: Can you describe a stressful situation you experienced at work? How did you cope? How do you cope with daily stress?

A: We had some terrible miscommunication with a customer and it fell on my shoulders to mend the relationship and to enjoy the orders that were placed went through. It was a time sensitive situation that became very stressful as there was pressure from all sides. I spoke to colleagues to gain clarity and to identify a plan to manage the situation. I also referred to my boss for advice. I like to unwind by watching TV or movies and to read.

Q: Do you believe your boss or management understands the stress you go through at work? Have they ever helped with stressful situations?

A: I think my boss understands there are difficult times at work but that is rarely discussed with me. There is an expectation that I need to get the work done no matter what and I have not been extended help or support many times. I think this is a place for improvement.

Q: Has resiliency been a topic of discussion at your workplace? Do you think it is important?

A: Resiliency has come up at my office but because I am a manager it is expected of me that I should be able to handle everything and that I should be able to take on the emotional stress that my team faces. I think resiliency is very important, especially at the management level. I believe it is assumed that managers don’t feel stress and its effects but that is false and more support needs to be provided to management.

Q: Do you think enough is being done to foster resiliency in employees? If not, what can be done?

A: No. There are several ways resiliency can be fostered in employees such as:

  • Encouraging interaction at work and cultivating a team spirit
  • Not allowing things to develop out of control
  • Encouraging learning by experience rather than reprimanding employees
  • Celebrating successful outcomes to boost morale
  • Mentoring employees to build effective communication and stress-management techniques
  • Encouraging relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and to promote overall well-being

Interview 2: Female professional, English Teacher at an Elementary School

Q: In a brief sentence, explain what resiliency means to you.

A: Resiliency means to bounce back in the face of challenges and adversity.

Q: On a scale of 1-10, how often do you experience stress at your job? Would your colleagues agree?

A: I would rate a 6 on that scale normally. There are times in the year that are more stressful than others, especially when it comes to preparing for exams or grading projects and assignments. I think my colleagues would agree with my assessment, though I think they experience additional stress due to varying job roles.

Q: Can you describe a stressful situation you experienced at work? How did you cope? How do you cope with daily stress?

A: I have had many stressful experiences at work. One incident that comes to mind is when I was asked to prepare a group of students for a public performance at short notice. I was entrusted with complete planning, organizing and execution. The expectations of the performance and outcome caused me anxiety and stress and I had a couple of sleepless nights. To cope, I tried to remain as positive as possible and over-prepared so nothing would be left to chance. I meditate and turn to religion to cope with daily stress.

Q: Do you believe your boss or management understands the stress you go through at work? Have they ever helped with stressful situations?

A: It depends on the person, one of my bosses is more understanding than the other. I believe it is because she started in the role I am in now. However, I think ultimately it comes down to delivering results and keeping our students and parents happy which can take a toll on teachers. Some members of the management team try to be understanding of deadlines and stressful periods during the year but we still get tasks piled on us last minute.

Q: Has resiliency been a topic of discussion at your workplace? Do you think it is important?

A: Yes, stress and resilience has been something I have discussed in the workplace. Usually when I am faced with a stressful situation, I go to my colleagues for emotional support and encouragement. This helps me adapt and stay positive. Resiliency is a very important quality to ensure we bounce back from obstacles.

Q: Do you think enough is being done to foster resiliency in employees? If not, what can be done?

A: I think more can be done to foster resiliency in the workplace. Employers have a responsibility to foster resiliency in the workplace by understanding their employees’ needs and mental state and by encouraging employees through difficult times.


Interview 3: Female professional, Engineer

Q: In a brief sentence, explain what resiliency means to you.

A: To me, it means sticking around during difficult situation.

Q: On a scale of 1-10, how often do you experience stress at your job? Would your colleagues agree?

A: I would say typically 6/10. My colleagues would definitely agree with that assessment- we get a pretty fair share of workload. There are times in the year that are more stressful than normal.

Q: Can you describe a stressful situation you experienced at work? How did you cope? How do you cope with daily stress?

A: One of my ex-managers did not know how to properly train new employees and humiliated us often. What helped me through that situation was having other wonderful managers that balanced the stress and had a better understanding of us as employees and individuals. I used to pray to deal with daily stress but don’t anymore. I struggle to cope with daily stress now.

Q: Do you believe your boss or management understands the stress you go through at work? Have they ever helped with stressful situations?

A: Yes, I believe the management at my workplace does. I once went to my boss regarding the ex-manager I mentioned earlier and how difficult it was to work with them. My boss explained to me that different people have different working styles and that put things in perspective for me. No one is perfect and I learned to adapt once I understood that.

Q: Has resiliency been a topic of discussion at your workplace? Do you think it is important?

A: Yes it has come up. What I mean is that my colleagues and I have discussed difficult situations we have been in and have encouraged each other to stick through it. I am not entirely sure if resiliency is important.

Q: Do you think enough is being done to foster resiliency in employees? If not, what can be done?

A: Yes, I think so. The managers at my workplace try to keep us motivated by giving us promotions, pay raises and mentorship. We also tend to have a close relationship with the managers so that allows them to gauge our stress levels and they are understanding if work needs to be reshuffled.


Main Takeaways:

  • As with the student group, employees are well versed in what resiliency means and most agree it is important both for personal well-being and especially in the workplace.
  • Employees tend to experience stress that is greater than a moderate level of stress which can be considered 5/10 on our scale. Stress levels increase with experience and that is observed in industry as well and can impact management style. (link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2016/10/12/how-you-handle-stress-is-a-key-to-management-success/#4cd1e88826d1)
  • Stress at work originates from several sources including sudden changes in job role or task, managing client relations or poor management. It goes to show that stress can be universal in every job and level.
  • Bosses and management need to do a better job at managing employees’ stress and fostering a resilient mindset. Some employees believed their management were doing a good job but the majority believed more could be done. Empathy and awareness from management can lead to a greater understanding of employees and their workloads thereby bringing resiliency to the workplace.
  • Resiliency is a topic of discussion at the workplace. Employees manage stress by engaging in personal activities or by turning to religion and meditation. Only some employees believed their management was successful at helping them cope with stress.

About the Author:

Roshni Ramaswamy has recently graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology, majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and a proud mentee of the WINGS Signature Program. She is a Project Engineer at Environmental Planning Specialists. She enjoys sharing her perspectives on mentoring, resilience, academic life, professional development among a myriad other topics. Follow Roshni at the link shared for her viewpoints.

Resilience Day two

Resiliency – Voice of the Students (Day 2)

 Resilience Day two

 

SUCCESS IS NOT FINAL, FAILURE IS NOT FATAL. IT IS THE COURAGE TO CONTINUE THAT COUNTS.

Winston S. Churchill

Before we dive into all the reasons why resiliency is important and how we can cultivate a resilient mindset, let’s put into context what resiliency is. To better understand, we have interviewed two groups of people- college students and working professionals. In this post we our main takeaways and the full interviews with college students. Enjoy!

Resiliency: Through the Eyes of College Students

We interviewed three college students from entirely different colleges and backgrounds. They will remain anonymous in this post. Below are the full interviews.


Interview 1:

Interviewee Profile: Female student, Bachelors Degree in Law from University of Edinburgh

Q: In a brief sentence, explain what resiliency means to you.

A: Resiliency is not giving up in the face of repeated and constant failure.

Q: Describe a time that was particularly stressful in college. What happened? Why was it stressful?

A:  During my 3rd year in college I had to manage applying to jobs with my normal class workload. In the beginning, I felt unable to give my all to both and I felt lost in the mountains of tasks I had to do, causing me to experience a significant amount of stress.

Q:  How did you cope with that stressful time? What techniques do you use to cope with daily stress?

A: I went to lot of career counseling to cope with that stress and to see what I could do to manage my time more effectively. To cope with daily stress I try to take one thing at a time, prioritize tasks, keep busy, and definitely meditate everyday.

Q: Did you find career counseling useful in helping you manage your stress?

A: It was helpful, having a professional walk you through techniques you can use is definitely useful. It does get difficult when counselors are spread thin because they need to cater to so many students though.

Q: Have you had conversation with colleagues/friends on the topic of resiliency?

A: I have had numerous conversations with friends about resilience as some of them felt overwhelmed in that space too. It helped to know I was not alone.

Q: Do you think resiliency is important? Why? Or why not?

A: It is important, you need to be able to accept failure as a mere obstacle, learn from it, and move forward positively instead of it becoming an absolute block in achieving your goals. Life never works in your favor all the time and the ability to recognize that and keep trying is very important.

Q: Do you think enough is being done to foster resiliency in colleges? If not, what do you think can be done to cultivate a resilient mindset in students?

A: I do not think enough is done to foster resilience in college. There needs to be more seminars and talks about how to manage your time effectively. I feel there is just an expectation that all students will know how to cope and adapt, but that is not the case. In my experience, law is a very competitive degree and there is the attitude that every person is looking out for themselves. It is easy to feel lonely and that you are not doing compared to your competition and that mindset just fosters stress and anxiety instead of resilience.


Interview 2:

Male student, Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from Georgia Institute of Technology

Q: In a brief sentence, explain what resiliency means to you.

A: The ability to stand back up and return to a positive mental state when you face a major difficulty.

Q: Describe a time that was particularly stressful in college. What happened? Why was it stressful?

A:  I failed my first test for my CS1331 class in my freshman year and made a C in the class. It was stressful because it made me question whether I was cut out for the field or the school.

Q:  How did you cope with that stressful time? What techniques do you use to cope with daily stress?

A: Socializing with friends and just studying the material longer and harder. Telling myself I failed that test not because of incompetence but a lack of preparation and experience.

Q: Have you had conversation with colleagues/friends on the topic of resiliency?

A: Yes it is a topic that has come up before.

Q: Do you think resiliency is important? Why? Or why not?

A: Yes, I think resiliency is more important than IQ or talent because everyone gets knocked down from time to time. It is not necessarily the smartest that get to the top but often the most resilient.

Q: Is there someone you look up to because of their resilience? Why?

A: I look up to Steve Jobs.  He got kicked out of his own company, made a competing company called Next which got acquired by Apple and eventually became CEO of Apple again. I think his story is very inspiring.

Q: Do you think enough is being done to foster resiliency in colleges? If not, what do you think can be done to cultivate a resilient mindset in students?

A: No, I don’t think enough is being done especially since there are some majors that are not capped and that have difficult weed out courses. In my opinion, having deliberate obstacles like that does not encourage resiliency. I reflect often on the Japanese proverb, “Fall down seven times, get up eight”. We should put that up somewhere on campus as a daily reminder.


Interview 3:

Female student, Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Georgia Institute of Technology

Q: In a brief sentence, explain what resiliency means to you.

A: I think resiliency means to fight against a difficult situation to get better.

Q: Describe a time that was particularly stressful in college. What happened? Why was it stressful?

A: I transferred in from another college and my first semester at Tech was super stressful. I didn’t know anyone and I found the teaching style and curriculum difficult compared to my previous college. In a nut shell, adjusting to a new environment was super stressful.

Q:  How did you cope with that stressful time? What techniques do you use to cope with daily stress?

A: I tried to meet as many people as I could and had one-on-one meeting with professors to help me through my classes. Now, I try to stay as positive as I can anytime I am faced with challenges.

Q: Have you had conversation with colleagues/friends on the topic of resiliency?

A: This has not been a topic that has come up with people. A lot of people I talked with did not really care about this.

Q: Do you think resiliency is important? Why? Or why not?

A: I think resiliency is very important because everyone goes through a tough time or situation. If you don’t know how to handle and cope with the situation, you might feel trapped and unable to move on.

Q: Do you think enough is being done to foster resiliency in colleges? If not, what do you think can be done to cultivate a resilient mindset in students?

A: No, not at all. I think resiliency needs to come from student organizations that can influence students. For example, fraternities and sororities can host events on this topic to reach a larger audience. Similarly, classes such as GT1000 (introductory freshman classes) can be focused on this topic to help guide freshman as they acclimate to college life.

Main Takeaways:

  • Students understand what resiliency is and are able to articulate it. Their definitions are similar to psychology definitions that define resiliency as the ability to cope and adapt to stressful situations and to bounce back from those situations.
  • Techniques that students use to cope with stress include socializing, seeking community, counseling, sharing experiences with confidants and meditating. All of these are experiences or environments that students actively seek and were not solutions initiated by colleges.
  • All students agreed that resiliency is very important. Some have had conversations about resiliency with friends and others have not. Raising awareness and fostering conversations on this topic is an area of improvement in the college environment.
  • All students believed their colleges were not doing enough to foster a resilient mindset in students. Some believed the structure of classes and college environment made learning stressful to the point that failure was not a viable option as it prevented students from learning that failure is part of life and something to learn from.
  • Possible solutions that can be implemented in colleges are talks or seminars on the topic of resilience that both highlight its importance and ways to build it within ourselves. The involvement of student organizations is a potential way to reach a large audience and to influence the way students think across the board.

This Blog post is a second part of the five part blog series. Read part one here.

About the Author:

Roshni Ramaswamy has recently graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology, majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and a proud mentee of the WINGS Signature Program. She is a Project Engineer at Environmental Planning Specialists. She enjoys sharing her perspectives on mentoring, resilience, academic life, professional development among a myriad other topics. Follow Roshni at the link shared for her viewpoints.

Resilience Blog

Resilience – Why should you care about it? (Day 1)

Resilience Blog

Why Should You Care About Resiliency?

Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.- Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela faced challenges in his life beyond what most of us can comprehend. The above quote exemplifies his infinite optimism that makes him one of the most revered heroes in history. In fact, we all know of personal heroes- family members, friends or coworkers who have overcome all the odds with unrelenting spirit. One of my personal heroes is one of my best friends who remains optimistic despite all the personal and family challenges she faces. So, what makes this group of people different from those who struggle to handle difficulties and who can’t seem to adapt? It all comes down to one trait- resilience.

Resilience is loosely defined as the psychological capacity to adapt to stressful circumstances and to bounce back from adverse events. (https://hbr.org/2017/08/the-dark-side-of-resilience) It is a human quality that is integral to coping with stress at all life stages however its importance in college and the workplace is increasingly being studied and documented. Studies reveal that 30% of college students reported that stress has negatively affected their academic performance, 85% of students reported feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities and 41.6% of students claimed anxiety is their top concern. (https://adaa.org/finding-help/helping-others/college-students/facts) These statistics are mirrored in the workplace. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of all employees view jobs as the number one stressor in their lives and 75% of employees believe the worker today has more on-the-job stress than a generation ago. (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/) Additionally, a study of 100,000 employees around the world revealed that 82.6% of all emotional health cases were attributed to employee depression, stress and anxiety across most continents. (https://hbr.org/2016/06/627-building-resilience-ic-5-ways-to-build-your-personal-resilience-at-work).

It is no secret that pressure in college and the workplace is detrimental to an individual’s wellness and productivity. However, with increasing globalization, connectivity and a rapid change in education and work culture, cultivating resilience within ourselves is more important now than ever to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

But how exactly do we do that? In this five-part blog-series, we explore the issue in depth and identify methods to build resilience that you can implement in your daily life. We seek to show you that resilience is a skill set that can be built and exercised and one that will lead you to a more fulfilled life.

About the Author:

Roshni Ramaswamy has recently graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology, majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and a proud mentee of the WINGS Signature Program. She is a Project Engineer at Environmental Planning Specialists. She enjoys sharing her perspectives on mentoring, resilience, academic life, professional development among a myriad other topics. Follow Roshni at the link shared for her viewpoints.

An Artist's Path to success

Dance is a Hobby, Career or Business? Part Five

An Artist’s path to success

An Artist's Path to success

We’ve talked at great length about the struggles in the performing arts industry – today, we talk about what performing artists can do to make their lives easier! There are solutions, and we’re here to present them.

  • Never stop assessing:

    Take time for yourself and step away from your art periodically. Ask yourself – do you feel good about your work? Do you feel fulfilled? Identify the areas that aren’t helping you progress in this field, and get rid of them!

  • Know yourself:

    Get to know your strengths and weaknesses as an artist. Leverage your strengths – build your artistic foundation on top of a solid structure. Don’t shy away from your weaknesses just because they present a challenge – there’s room for both in your life!

  • Create distinct buckets of work:

    Understand what your comfort areas and your challenges are. Respect your work and understand each opportunity for what it is. Not every job will be the most fulfilling task – but make room for this work regardless! That being said, don’t forget to polish the other side of the coin. Make sure your schedule has room for that gritty, meaningful, difficult work – this is where true growth lies, and you owe it to yourself to cultivate it! In short – understand what sells, but don’t be a sellout!

  • Know your worth:

    This is a super important note – know your worth! If you find yourself constantly in the position of breaking even or losing money on gigs, something is wrong. We can’t expect a society to value us if we ourselves can’t be confident of our own worth!

  • Pay attention to your attitude:

    We know that artists are constantly on the grind – a spontaneous work schedule combined with vulnerability and a fear of rejection can turn even the most optimistic individuals into jaded, worn-out humans. That being said, keep your chin up and channel a positive and productive attitude – when it comes to succeeding against all odds, failure is your friend.

  • Pay it forward:

    Make it easier for the next generation – the industry can only grow if we all push it forward together. Mentor, teach, and create frameworks for those struggling to enter the field. The performing arts deserve respect – and it’s up to performing artists to create that respect!

  • Collaborate and build your network:

    Alienating people in the industry is never a good idea – after all, artists are in this crazy struggle called life together! Almost everyone we spoke to mentioned the importance of community in their day to day lives as an artist. So, create a community of genuine respect and help each other out. Seek out people who are interested in your vision and your message – and vice versa!

  • Find a mentor and be a mentor!

    Building a network of supportive mentors is critical when it comes to life in the performing arts industry. A lack of encouragement can dwindle the fire in even the most voracious artists. Mentors and mentees both stand to learn quite a bit from each other, especially as a blend of skills across different generations come together. When it comes to mentoring, it’s a two-way street!

As we always say at WINGS – Inspire. Enable. Empower! Although the performing arts industry comes with its own set of unique struggles, we believe in providing artists with the tools they need – not only to succeed, but to lead the next generation into the limelight.

Have you read remaining post in this series. Click here for  Part OnePart TwoPart Three, and Part Four of the Five part blog series

About the author

This blog was written for WINGS by Ruby Verma. Ruby Verma started out her career working in Private Equity valuations for 9 years. She then made a career switch over to the arts! She now works as a dancer and a writer in the greater NYC area. Ruby is an artistic director at Junoon Performing Arts. Follow Ruby on Instagram or Medium and share her expression of thoughts and words through her posts as a passionate artist

Achieve Balance in Success

Dance is a Hobby, Career or Business? Part Four

Artists – Developing A Support System

Achieve Balance in Success

As we continue thinking about the performing arts industry, we decided to dig a little deeper. After all, there are successful artists out there who no doubt have found a way to create structure and cultivate collaboration, camaraderie, and mentorship within their network. There are artists who have succeeded against all odds – and if they can do, so can you!

We’ll note just a few remarkable examples here to highlight the success stories of artists who have faced their struggles head on!

On emotional and mental health…

  • Charlie Chaplin struggled with not one, but several issues throughout his life – such as poverty, emotional instability, and lack of familial support. Once he made his way to Hollywood, it took him quite a while to be taken seriously – but we’re glad he didn’t give up, because he is now the greatest silent-film actor to have ever lived!

On staying true to message…

  • On authenticity and keeping it real, who better to look to than Lady Gaga? This famous singer was continuously ridiculed for her style of music and sense of fashion prior to making it in the industry. She was repeatedly asked to drop her provocative, eccentric ways – however, she stuck her ground and didn’t budge. Lady Gaga knew that she had to do what felt good – her gut instincts proved to be right!

On mentorship

  • Did you know that the renowned author and poet Maya Angelou served as guidance for Oprah Winfrey throughout many crucial years of her life? It goes without saying that these are two hugely recognizable names within the industry – and although Oprah is no doubt talented, guidance from Maya Angelou must have been inspirational and humbling on many levels.
  • Musician Ray Charles provided his wisdom and guidance to the legendary Quincy Jones. He has said that it made him extremely happy to pay It forward and help someone – and in turn, Quincy Jones has mentored a number of budding young musicians himself!

These heartwarming stories are a great example of artists who have overcome all odds and made a mark in their respective fields.

Want to read more? Read the Part OnePart Two, and Part Three of the Five part blog series

About the author

This blog was written for WINGS by Ruby Verma. Ruby Verma started out her career working in Private Equity valuations for 9 years. She then made a career switch over to the arts! She now works as a dancer and a writer in the greater NYC area. Ruby is an artistic director at Junoon Performing Arts. Follow Ruby on Instagram or Medium and share her expression of thoughts and words through her posts as a passionate artist.

An artist and their expressions

Dance is a Hobby, Career or Business? Part Three

An artist’s expression of self

An artist and their expressions

“The life of an artist leads to two things – one is success and the other is a beautiful failure.” – Gautam Gurnani, Jokerface Entertainment

Today we turn the conversation outwards and hear from the performers themselves! What do they have to say? Let’s find out!

On income…

“Having been on both sides of the table, as an artist and as a producer, I believe the issue is largely how the arts are placed in our society. What we believe the artists should be paid versus what an artist actually invests in themselves is severely off key.” – Shubhra Prakash, Hypokrit Theatre Company

“My favorite is when folks ask me for free services because it would be a great “promotional opportunity” for my company. This is frustrating! Of course I care about promoting my company, but I still have professional dancers to pay for their time and efforts! It’s a shame how often this is overlooked.” – Kruti Shah, Sanskruti Dance

On continued growth and learning…

“I feel simultaneously supported and lost on my journey.” – Jasmine Broads, Bollydancers
“An artist will find a way, because they have to. I have been fortunate to work with those who also have a similar hunger which is motivating and lack of resources makes us creative and gets us to find more ways to do our work. In this process we keep learning a lot.” – Shubhra Prakash, Hypokrit Theatre Company

“I wish I knew more about dance education – where was the best place to study dance, best instructors in their respective disciplines, what are the best options as a growing dancer.” – Kruti Shah, Sanskruti Dance

On regrets, sacrifices, and the grass being greener on the other side…

“When you choose a career in what is your passion, it completely changes your relationship with that passion. You have to find the little pockets of beauty in what you are doing.” – Shivani Badgi, Gurukul

“I would say I am happy where I am and hungry to get to a place.” – Gautam Gurnani, Jokerface Entertainment

On a lighter, happier note…

“I wouldn’t have it any other way! When I truly sit down to think about it – I am so thankful to wake up every day and do what I love to do! Most importantly, I have the opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives. Seeing my students come to class with a big smile on is the most rewarding feeling ever!” – Kruti Shah, Sanskruti Dance

“Overall I am scared. I try to surround myself with positive people. Being an artist is difficult. But I would be depressed if I didn’t pursue it. And the only thing I have learned so far is – believe in yourself and fight your own battle.” – Gautam Gurnani, Jokerface Entertainment

Well, there you have it – the candid, expressive thoughts from performers themselves on the ups and downs of their artistic endeavors! We loved hearing from these talented individuals who are determined on pursuing their passions. What do you think? Sound off in the comments below – we’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this hot topic!

Want to read more? Read the Part One and Part Two of the Five part blog series

About the author

This blog was written for WINGS by Ruby Verma. Ruby Verma started out her career working in Private Equity valuations for 9 years. She then made a career switch over to the arts! She now works as a dancer and a writer in the greater NYC area. Ruby is an artistic director at Junoon Performing Arts. Follow Ruby on Instagram or Medium and share her expression of thoughts and words through her posts as a passionate artist.

Performing Arts Day Two - Challenges in the life of a performing artist

Dance is a Hobby, Career or Business? Part Two

Challenges in the life of a performing artist

So what are the things performing artists struggle with the most? Let’s find out!

  • Time management: Performing artists multitask by nature. Due to the fact that their schedules don’t follow a typical 9-5 workday and one may be juggling multiple freelance jobs, mastering time is a key part of a performing artists’ life. An artist is often an entrepreneur paving the way for themselves rather than following a predetermined path. Because of this, an artist has to think about self-promotion and marketing, teaching their craft to others, creating meaningful work, seeking out opportunities, and continued training in his/her field; while tying all of the above into income creation and a sustainable career.
  • Sustainable income: Artists following their hearts are faced with the never-ending stress of money-making and money management. Many in society are not willing to pay fair wages to an artist. Many expect an artist to work for free. Artists may have to take on work that does not necessarily align with their morals and values.
  • Respecting the competition: A catty artist is perhaps not an artist at all – after all, artists are supposed to support one another! However, increased competition, increased visibility due to social media, and limited income prospects can foster a sense of jealousy and hostility rather than mutual collaboration, respect, and support.
  • Emotional and mental health: Since the very nature of their lives is so volatile, it’s no wonder that artists need to pay attention to and prioritize their mental health. People with creative minds are perceived as being highly sensitive and tuned in to their emotions – add in the constant uncertainty and worries about career, fatigue, and burnout, and you have a recipe for depression. Artists owe it to themselves to take care of their minds and their bodies – however, as the famous saying goes – “Take your broken heart and make it into art”. The industry has a tendency to romanticize these feelings, thus creating a perpetual catch-22 with the sentiment that amazing art comes from the most emotionally charged individuals. One must always remember that art does not have to arise from the darkest of places to be poignant or authentic.
  • Staying true to message: After all is said and done, one may forget to step back and remember why he/she started working in this field to begin with! With all the ambiguity, burnout, and self-criticism, “branding” yourself becomes tricky. As the lines between social media and reality become blurred, performing artists may become jaded and confused as they pay too much attention to “what sells” versus what they believe in.
  • Not being taken seriously: Artists are smart, creative, out-of-the-box thinkers. Unfortunately, there are quite a few people who don’t take art seriously – it’s been branded as a “fun thing for kids to do” and “something that doesn’t require real intelligence”. Yikes! While their counterparts may be pursuing fields that are socially prestigious such as medicine and law, artists may end up feeling alienated as they spend time defending themselves and their choices to family and friends. They may even start questioning their own life choices!
  • Rejection: Artists are out there, putting it on the line, every day of their lives. They’re required to be raw and authentic – and with that, comes the very real experience of failure. Any artist you know will tell you they’ve failed 1,000 times while searching for their “big break”.
  • Getting advice: There is more than a little ambiguity when it comes to one pursuing a career in the performing arts. A nontraditional career path coupled with a lack of resources and help can lead to some serious confusion! Those in the field could do with a career advisor, if you will!

What do you think? Have you ever encountered any of these challenges in your career? We’d love to hear more in the comments below.

Stay tuned to hear from people we spoke to from the performing arts industry itself!

Want to read more? Read the Part One of the Five part blog series

About the author

This blog was written for WINGS by Ruby Verma. Ruby Verma started out her career working in Private Equity valuations for 9 years. She then made a career switch over to the arts! She now works as a dancer and a writer in the greater NYC area. Ruby is an artistic director at Junoon Performing Arts. Follow Ruby on Instagram or Medium and share her expression of thoughts and words through her posts as a passionate artist.

Performing Arts - Perceptions and Challenges

Dance is a Career, Hobby or Business? Part One

Performing Arts - Perceptions and Challenges

Performing Arts – Perceptions and Challenges

When are you going to get a real job?

I wish I could jump around and have fun all day like you do!

How do you make money though?

If you are a performing artist, you may very well recognize these questions. It’s no secret that the performing arts industry has a reputation – the term “struggling artist” is oh so ubiquitous! While we as a society certainly love our Broadway plays, live cover bands, and renowned ballets, we must take a step back and wonder about the lives of these creative individuals behind the scenes. Art has always been a medium for open communication – the emotional highs and lows through poignant storytelling and the ability for art to transform a society is valuable beyond measure.

However, many artists are unsatisfied as they struggle to balance two worlds – after all, art can’t just be about following dreams when one has to pay the bills! Many artists may pursue their passions after their traditional 9-5 or work multiple jobs before catching their big break. So what happens when one decides to make their passion their main source of income?

This week, we’ll talk more about the lives of these creative, hardworking personalities and their atypical career paths and struggles. As always, we’ll end with a clear call to action.

About the author

This blog was written for WINGS by Ruby Verma. Ruby Verma started out her career working in Private Equity valuations for 9 years. She then made a career switch over to the arts! She now works as a dancer and a writer in the greater NYC area. Ruby is an artistic director at Junoon Performing Arts. Follow Ruby on Instagram or Medium and share her expression of thoughts and words through her posts as a passionate artist.