These days, I use different words as prompts to write or do something. Anything.
Challenge. Train. Prepare. Stress. Change. Attention. Curiosity. Yes. No.
And many more. 😉
Not surprisingly, they help me think and realise a few things.
She has a lot of inspiration to draw from. Based in Singapore, Nikki’s an actor (she appeared in HBO’s Westworld and Mediacorp Channel 5’s FAM); a host and presenter (she’s worked with Fox Sports Asia, covered events such as Formula 1 and Wimbledon, and entertained us on NatGeoPeople’s The Food Files, Mediacorp’s The Food Detectives, and Okto’s Don’t Try This At Home); a communications trainer; a co-founder of a private dining concept called intimatesuppers; and so much more.
Let’s start with the word “challenge”
Because Nikki is no stranger to it.
When she hears the word “challenge”, what immediately comes to mind?
“A professional challenge gets my mind racing and blood pumping,” she admits. “I’ve always thrived under pressure. I love the challenge of live television because it’s where I can really push myself mentally and physically.”
She breaks it down further.
“As a presenter/reporter, you are doing several things at the same time. For instance, I can be interviewing someone and so I’ll have to listen intently to plan my next move or find ways to steer the conversation in the direction I need it to, while also listening to cues in my ear from producers and watching for visual messages from the crew on the ground.
“All this while having to make sure we get it done within the time allotted, to the exact second,” she adds. “In broadcast, everything needs to be timed to the millisecond because a show has several moving parts. That’s a fun challenge because I’m used to it.
“I also love it when I find out that I have to extend a chat or interview, or fill time without knowing how long for. The plot thickens! That means I need to have enough information and ideas in my arsenal to make that go smoothly without any awkward silences or jolted conversation. What a thrill! Love, love, love.
“But I’ve also learnt that it isn’t healthy to constantly throw yourself in the deep end. You need to know when to pause, reset and reposition,” she observes. “I believe that my biggest challenge (personally and professionally) has been knowing when to walk away and then following through.”
What is a challenge, anyway?
It may be different for everyone. Nikki looks at it as “an experience that you don’t know if you’re equipped for”.
“It’s something that causes a little self-doubt, but also elicits a sense of wonder and curiosity. It isn’t something to be feared or even conquered, but slowly and open-heartedly embraced,” she maintains.
Nikki also reveals her philosophy about facing challenges and hurdles – and how this has changed. “I’ve realised I don’t have all the answers,” she states.
“Learning when to ask for help and for guidance is essential. Most burdens we carry, or anxieties we allow ourselves to be enveloped by, are never meant to be ours alone. Life will throw you curveballs all the time. You can’t prepare for everything. What we can do is surround ourselves with the kinds of people and the kind of tribe that we know have a positive and supportive influence on us.”
Her strategy? As she’s suggested, we can:
#1 Find our tribe
“I like to be around ambitious, open-minded, caring, thoughtful and resourceful people. I like to surround myself with those I trust and I know love me unconditionally. I also like to seek out people whose strengths are different from mine so that I can learn and grow.”
#2 Seek our inner peace
“Reiki and my spiritual practice have also been a very integral part of my ability to overcome challenges or difficulties. It is a Japanese energy balancing system and I’ve practised it for about five years now,” she relates.
“Making time to check in with myself and drown out any external chatter and noise has been such a positive influence. I feel supported to take on the unknown or the uncomfortable because I believe in showing up for yourself on all fronts – emotionally, mentally and physically.”
If you need more examples to inspire and motivate you (and tell you you’re not alone), Nikki provides two. 😊
#1 Most recent challenge
“My most recent challenge was the first six months of 2020. The global pandemic rendered my work non-existent and for a while, non-essential. For a creative who associates who they are with what they do, this can feel like you’ve lost your limbs. I came face to face with not knowing what to do next and what actions to take moving forward. I think many people can relate to that,” she shares.
“The idea of pivoting makes total sense and I’m leaning into that. I’m still not quite clear on the full game plan yet, but I’ve taken on a lot of new paths since June, including working on communications coaching and I’m finding I love that.”
Plus: “I’m learning to recognise the opportunities in seemingly innocuous moments or in doing what feels good and what feels right,” she muses.
“Basically trusting my instincts has become a priority and now often takes precedence over my rational approach to situations. I am no longer paralysed by not knowing what’s around the corner.
“I trust that everything will be made clear in the right time. Until then, I have to be open to receiving.”
#2 Most memorable challenge
“When asked about my most memorable challenge, I would usually rattle off something about a project on stage or on the ground covering a championship. But not today. I’d say I’m still right in the thick of what will become my most memorable challenge. I have to ask myself, ‘What are your strengths? Your gifts? What can you offer to the world that is fulfilling but also financially rewarding?’
“I am also starting to think about where I would like to live next,” Nikki says. “I’ve been in Singapore for almost 10 years now and I’ve experienced so much. Now is the time to lay the groundwork for a new phase in my life both professionally and personally. The pieces are slowly falling into place, albeit slowly. And I am someone who likes to get things done quickly, effectively and accurately. So slowing down this year took a lot of getting used to. Let come what comes. Just know you are exactly where you’re meant to be.
“In a nutshell, my most memorable challenge will be… patience.”
What do these other words mean?
Again, our definitions may vary because of our own experiences. But if, like me, you want to explore or analyse your dreams and goals, or even just your thoughts, using these words below as a starting point could help. Nikki comes to our aid. 👏
“Progress not perfection. One day at a time.”
“I am an absolute stickler for being prepared. Professionally, I do so much research to make sure I am ready for any curveballs or have enough information when it comes to deliver,” Nikki states.
“When reporting live, especially for sports or entertainment, it’s best to have as much information and context in your arsenal as possible, because you never know when you might have to extend a conversation or switch gears. I apply the same method when I’m hosting live on stage. The more I prepare, the more freedom I have to freestyle and play in the moment. And that’s gold when that happens!”
“You only get one set of nerves. Take care of them. When the stress outweighs the enjoyment, something’s got to give.”
“… is the most beautiful opportunity for growth. Love the saying ‘Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous in the end’ by Robin Sharma.”
“The greatest gift you can give someone is your attention,” Nikki declares. “I feel that time is the most valuable commodity on the planet. So when someone gives you their undivided attention, it’s the most generous act of kindness in my book.”
“I remember what my life coach said to me earlier this year. He told me how transformative it can be when you replace fear with curiosity. Leaning into uncertainty, and sitting with what you don’t understand or what might feel uncomfortable, can be liberating and eye-opening. Replace fear with curiosity and see how the game changes.”
“Courage extends our capacity to be fully present in the moment. It’s being okay with not always knowing what’s coming next.”
“This reminds me how important it is to trust yourself,” she remarks. “I always say you have to trust your voice. Many of us often doubt ourselves. We doubt whether we’re ready or good enough. Trust that you’ve got this!”
“This reminds me of the 2008 Jim Carrey movie, Yes Man. I was inspired to try saying yes to absolutely everything for a week. Even if I wanted to say no, I forced myself to say yes to every opportunity – no matter how small or big. So I found myself agreeing to help someone with their work late at night, (saying) yes to going on a walk when all I wanted was to sleep, and ended up having a blast at an impromptu gala at the St Regis in New York City at the end of a very long out-of-town conference. I had the best time when I just said yes. Try it! It can be dangerous but that’s part of the fun!”
“It’s so important to know when to say no. Be clear about your boundaries and protect your energy. You come first.”
Words are powerful, indeed
We know they are, just from listening to Nikki, seeing the above words, and thinking about them.
Don’t be afraid to tap into them, especially now and throughout this year and the next, or when you’re going through tough times.
“In many ways, this world is united during this turbulent and chaotic year. Because what’s happening to you is very likely happening to someone else,” Nikki reflects.
“We are all in this together. We are leaning on each other for hope and support. People will be teaching future students about the year 2020, and we’ll be able to say we were a part of this history.
“Keep going! Embrace the change. Say yes to the things that scare you! Find the joy in the little things. Cherish the small moments with friends, a stranger on the street, with your family. Put one foot in front of the other and always consider how far you’ve come.”
What other words should we ponder on and add to this list? They might help us get to know ourselves better and move forward – just like Nikki. 😊