Shefali Coaches Us on How to Lead and Stay Present

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With 20 years of corporate work under her belt, Shefali Raina is there to help corporate executives find what drives them, from leadership, high performance, to transitioning. She wants to help you be present and have impact. We certainly found her helpful, and we were just interviewing her. Check it out!

Nice to meet you, Shefali! Please tell us a little about yourself :)

I am a Leadership + High Performance Coach. I love helping senior executives and high-achieving professionals lead more powerfully, grow their business, and be even more successful at work, while building a happier and more successful life.

Before coaching I spent 20 years in the corporate sector, on Wall Street and in consulting and had the amazing opportunity to live and work in different parts of the world— New Delhi, Manila, Tokyo and now NYC. I had the privilege to be in some big leadership roles myself as well as be around successful leaders. It has been a fantastic journey that has armed me with incredible practical insight for my work as a coach.

Why coaching? And what makes it most rewarding to you?

As an Executive Coach, I get to help you build your career or business, unlock your leadership, elevate your game, and partner with you to create exponential success in work and life. What could be more rewarding than that!

I love that my 20-year leadership experience allows me to offer practical tools and insight for immediate real-world problems, ranging from communication, management style, team engagement to decision making, strategy or some other leadership challenge. And I specially enjoy the deep mindset work that we do to give you a mental edge for life’s challenges.

At the end of the day, we are all striving to elevate our game, scale greater heights, have more impact, and live rich, meaningful lives. I feel honored that I get to connect with clients in substantial, meaningful ways and be a part of their growth and success, both professionally and personally.

What is something that most people get wrong about leadership?

People often believe that leadership is only about leading other people.

In reality, our leadership begins with us. We control how we show up in the world, how we think, what we feel, how we act and react and the opportunities we see in the world. We cannot fully control everything that happens in our lives, but we get to be the leader on how we respond and move forward.

An important part of my work with a client is the self mastery or self leadership aspect, and my clients whether they're CEOs, COOs, heads of businesses, senior traders, or entrepreneurs, always benefit from this. This is where we work on our mindset— how we manage stress, how we get resilient, how we sharpen our focus, how we build our productivity, expand our comfort zone and develop a mental edge to take on anything we choose or face. I am deeply interested in the practical application of the latest neuroscience research, and I bring this extensively into the coaching work.

What helps you stay productive on a regular basis?

Regular rest and recharge are key in keeping me productive.

However, the most powerful productivity multiplier for me has been being fully present wherever I am.

For years in the past, I multi-tasked, emailing during meetings, checking my phone during conversations, and generally believing that doing two things at the same time made me a rock star. I had no idea what a productivity-drain it was, which is now proven by neuroscientists. Our full attention is a powerful resource. I make sure that whatever I am doing NOW is getting my full energy and my complete attention.

If there is one thing you change, I recommend fully and completely paying attention to what you are doing right now.

What is your top tip for someone feeling overwhelmed, stuck, and stressed?

When we feel overwhelmed, stuck, or stressed, our brains are in ‘survival’ mode where we are experiencing overpowering urges of fight, flight, or freeze. This response is just normal brain machinery in action. The first thing is to recognize that we are all wired this way. Whether we are billionaires, or CEOs, startup founders, Olympic athletes or just us, we all experience stress and, ‘stuckness’ which overwhelms us from time to time. It is totally normal!

When we are in survival mode, we cannot think creatively or see opportunity. The best way out is to get ourselves into cognition.

Separating yourself a little bit from the situation and asking some questions really helps: why am I feeling this way?, what is really going on?, how would I feel about the situation five years from now?, If this was my best friend, what would I advise them?, what is another way to look at this?, what small action can I take right now to move forward?. These questions get us to start thinking, gaining insight and building curiosity about how to move past this emotion.

And of course, having a foundation of self care (you are rested and recharged), social connections (support from friends and family), and laughter and gratitude (you are building a positive mindset) always helps with positive growth and forward momentum.

Where do you go for inspiration in New York City?

One of the great things about New York City is that the smartest people come here from all over the world to share their thoughts and ideas, whether it's scientists, or business leaders, writers, or economists. I love the energy of ideas and insight that I get when I go to the different talks that happen all over the city, from Columbia, to the 92Y, the New York Public Library and so many other places.

And of course, I am inspired by the time I spend "breaking bread" with many of the people who made my 20-year career so incredible, sharing our ideas and our lives.