Taking leaps of faith: A conversation with Sindhu Kandipati

16 October 2023
Chaithra MJ Written by Chaithra MJ
Chaithra MJ

Chaithra MJ

Chaithra is a freelance content writer with a love for existentialism. She is passionate about...

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What is resilience? And how do you take a leap of faith? These were questions that Sindhu Kandipati, currently the Director of Product Management at the Wadhwani Foundation, has pondered all her life.

In her book ‘Leap of Faith,’ Sindhu Kandipati guides readers through her inspiring journey to cultivate a resilient mindset. Through personal stories and experiences, she offers insights into the realm of motivation and encourages readers to embrace their own strength and courage. With her unique perspective on faith, Sindhu offers a fresh outlook for navigating the challenges of our times. 

In this exclusive interview, we explore her personal experiences on women’s empowerment, mental health, and taking courageous leaps of faith. 

“Self-care is not selfish; it enables us to give our best to others, and set a positive example for those around us. It’s prioritizing our own well-being without feeling guilty about it. Saying no when necessary, relaxing, and taking time for oneself are all part of this self-compassionate approach. 

What inspired you to write “Leap of Faith”? Can you share one or two pivotal moments from the book that were turning points in your life? 

One pivotal moment that stands out was attending a workshop hosted by Rashmi Bansal. Rashmi has been a great inspiration to me, and I vividly remember reading her books in college. At that workshop, my dream of writing a book was just an idea, but it was after that workshop that it began to take shape and become a reality. 

The second pivotal moment revolved around imposter syndrome, a topic I explore extensively in my book. I had the privilege of hearing a respected leader openly discuss his struggles with imposter syndrome. He candidly admitted that he, too, wrestled with these feelings of self-doubt. Hearing someone I looked up to, someone I considered accomplished and confident, openly acknowledge their imposter syndrome was an eye-opener for me. 

What is your take on vulnerability? How has it impacted your mental well-being? 

I had been boxing away a particularly painful incident, one that I couldn’t bring myself to talk about. It was deeply personal, and I feared that sharing it would only reopen old wounds. So, I kept it locked away, hidden from others and even from myself.

However, the turning point came during  Rashmi Bansal’s workshop. In that supportive environment, I felt an unexpected urge to share my story. It was a moment of vulnerability that I hadn’t anticipated, but something inside me urged me to let go. 

Taking leaps of faith: A conversation with Sindhu Kandipati

As I spoke, I felt a weight lifting from my shoulders. The act of sharing my personal experience, which I had guarded so closely, allowed me to process it in a way I hadn’t before. It was as if I had given myself permission to confront and release the pain that had been festering inside. 

What surprised me the most was the reaction of the group. They listened, empathized, and shared their own experiences. I realized that vulnerability was not just about exposing my own wounds but also about connecting with others on a deeply human level. I found that others had faced similar struggles and could offer support and understanding. 

Through that experience, I discovered the power of vulnerability in processing and healing. It was a reminder that we don’t have to carry our burdens alone, and that sharing our stories can be an act of courage that leads to personal growth and mental well-being. 

Your book touches upon women’s empowerment and representation in leadership roles. Can you elaborate on why this is important to you? 

I am passionate about women empowerment. It stems from a culmination of experiences, particularly during my involvement in the Challenge-Based Innovation project in collaboration with CERN. 

Through this project, I had the opportunity to engage in extensive interviews and conversations. These interactions opened my eyes to the significant challenges faced by women and youth in developing countries. One common theme that emerged was the lack of role models and the persistence of gender stereotypes. 

My pursuit of an MBA in Europe was a prime example of this determination. At the time, I didn’t know anyone who had taken such a path, and I had to reach out to alumni on LinkedIn to gather information and seek guidance. This experience highlighted the importance of having role models in our daily life who can pave the way and provide valuable insights to those who aspire to follow in their footsteps. 

Imposter syndrome is another challenge that many women face, myself included. Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” and her advocacy for women in leadership roles reinforced the significance of having visible, successful female role models deeply resonated with me. Imposter syndrome can often make women doubt their abilities and qualifications, and having role models who have defied these doubts can be a powerful antidote. 

In essence, my commitment to women’s empowerment and representation in leadership roles is rooted in my own experiences and the recognition that we need more visible examples of women who have overcome challenges and shattered glass ceilings. I firmly believe that by sharing our stories and encouraging other women to pursue their dreams, we can create a more inclusive and equal society where women can thrive in all aspects of life. 

Ultimately, my journey to writing “Leap of Faith” was, in itself, a leap of faith. It was driven by personal growth, a desire to inspire others, and the unwavering conviction that sharing our experiences can have a profound and meaningful impact on society. 

How do you maintain your faith during challenging times, especially when dealing with self-doubt and insecurities? 

During my pregnancy, I found myself wrestling with fears and doubts.  So I decided to personify my doubts and insecurities in my mind, giving them a face and a name – ‘Siri,’ like an inner critic constantly whispering negativity. But I didn’t stop there. I also imagined my unborn child, whom I affectionately nicknamed ‘Maddy.’ Maddy was my inspiration, my little fighter, and my beacon of hope. Whenever self-doubt or fear crept in, I would close my eyes and imagine Maddy speaking to me, saying, ‘I am a fighter, Mom, and you are too. Keep fighting.’ 

This imaginary dialogue with my unborn child became my daily source of strength. It reminded me that even in moments of doubt and insecurity, there was a fighter within me. I realized that I was nurturing not just a new life but also my own resilience. 

How do you practice the “art of relaxation amidst the chaos of life,” as you mentioned in your book? 

Life can often be a constant rush, but I’ve learned the importance of pausing, especially during significant life events like pregnancy and caring for a newborn. During this period, I allowed myself to focus solely on the needs of the moment, like caring for my baby and resting, without feeling compelled to do anything else. 

I also find solace in the world of books. Reading allows me to escape into different realms and explore new perspectives, helping me unwind. I’ve discovered the art of relaxation through travel. For instance, when I visited the Grand Canyon, I took the time to simply sit and absorb the breathtaking  beauty of nature, without any rush or agenda. Solo trips, such as my journey to Ibiza and Formentera beaches, have made me realize the happiness one can get by simply relaxing 

Journaling is another technique that helps me express my thoughts and emotions without any judgment. At times, I dump all my thoughts and worries without filtering them in my journal. This act of venting can be cathartic and relieving. 

Taking leaps of faith: A conversation with Sindhu Kandipati

Taking some time to be alone and reflect is another coping mechanism I rely on to recharge and center myself. 

I also repeatedly remind myself that it’s okay to fail. Nobody is perfect, and making mistakes is a natural part of growth and learning. 

Incorporating these practices into my life has allowed me to find moments of relaxation and respite amid life’s chaos, ultimately contributing to my overall well-being and balance. 

What are your coping mechanisms to deal with stress and mental health challenges? 

When overwhelmed by self-doubt or insecurities, I break tasks down into manageable steps. By focusing on one task at a time, I can prevent feelings of being overwhelmed and concentrate on making steady progress.

  • Productivity techniques: I implement the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working in focused 25-minute intervals. This structured approach helps me stay on track, maintain concentration, and accomplish tasks without being distracted by self-doubt. 
  • Emphasis on progress: I remind myself that progress is what truly matters. Rather than fixating on the end result or perfection, I concentrate on making incremental strides toward my goals. 
  • Stop worrying about the end result: I make a conscious effort to detach from the final result and instead focus on the process and the journey of self-improvement. 

What does “self-care” mean to you, and why do you think it’s essential? 

Self-care involves being “selfish” in a positive sense. It’s prioritizing our own well-being without feeling guilty about it. Saying no when necessary, relaxing, and taking time for oneself are all part of this self-compassionate approach. 

Self-care is not selfish; it enables us to give our best to others, maintain our capacity to make a difference, and set a positive example for those around us. 

Self-care includes rejecting FOMO and creating your path, and not following societal norms blindly. It’s about recognizing that our needs and paths may be different from what others expect or pursue. 

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with mental health issues and is looking to faith for answers or comfort? 

“We suffer more in our imagination than in reality.” This is my favorite quote and it’s by Seneca.

Mental health challenges can make us envision the worst outcomes or situations, but remember, these thoughts may not reflect the actual circumstances. 

Seek support: Don’t hesitate to talk to someone you trust or consider seeking counseling. Opening up about your feelings and experiences can provide tremendous relief. One can turn to online resources like 7 Cups of Tea for anonymous consultations and support. 

Self-care: Prioritize self-care as a fundamental aspect of your mental well-being. This includes getting enough sleep, practicing self-compassion, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. 

Journaling: Writing can be a therapeutic way to process your feelings and track your mental health journey. 

Find small things that improve your mood: Identify small activities or rituals that can change your mood positively. 

Seek support, practice self-compassion, and engage in activities that nurture your mental health.

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