I am really privileged to know Sarah... a beautiful being with such an exploring mind. This is just one bliss of her story.
It takes a lot of courage to follow the inner call and, in spite of all the odds, to change life dramatically. Yet, those that are able to make such a step are happy people, eventually managing to combine the skills from different periods of their lives into a new successful story.
Sarah Lopez-Luis has just done that. And this is her story.
Q: Who is Sarah Lopez-Luis?
A: Just a girl. A woman. A yoga teacher. A reluctant and a bit spoiled Californian. Cuban by heart. I used to be in technology. I retired from technology 6 years ago. I’ve always liked my jobs. But I thought I wanted to do something different. I was doing technology for so long. At 40 I felt that this is the time to make a move. I was doing yoga all along and I loved it. So, I decide to stop working to take a 2 year Advanced Studies/Teacher Training Yoga Program. Yet, right at that time I got offered a new job that I really wanted. I accepted it. So I postponed my thoughts of a change for a while. Yet life provides. 2 years later there was a buyout of the company I was working for and I accepted the package offered to the employees. So, I was free to pursue my dream. …
Q: What is your passion?
A: The first thing that pops to my head is yoga. I love yoga.
Q: What does passion mean to you?
A: Something you never get tired talking about, that you always want to read and do more of … When I was in India this Spring in a special training even when I got back to my room after 5 hours of Yoga, I continued reading about yoga, thinking about yoga… It’s just always interesting for me… it is almost like an addiction. A desire you cannot resist.
Q: Yet, your professional life was not always about yoga. How did you become a hi-tech manager in a first place, how did you ended up in Silicon Valley?
A: I wanted to travel. So I was looking for a job that would offer that. I was a math and computer science major… so I applied for a job at Eastern Airline… I got it… the job was great – technical support for the airline industry. I worked in a great group, had a lot of fun... We traveled a lot… We were growing really fast and with that growth I got promoted and 9 years later I was at the senior managers meeting and I realized that all of us in that room had started in the same group and worked our way up together….
And than I married and moved with my husband to Silicon Valley…. At first I was scared… I thought that people there would be so much better, smarter… but I soon realized that people are people and I blended in really fast… but I realized that I am not a techie… I love to use technology but I am not intrigued by it… I do not have a passion for it.
Q: What was missing?
A: Passion…. I was not unhappy, I had a very nice work environment, friends, I liked my boss, I made a lot of money...But I had a feeling that I was getting to nothing…. So, being without children I started asking myself “Why am I living this conventional life?” So, I started thinking why not just go into yoga more seriously… not to teach, I was not thinking about this before, but just to get better, to explore it.. to learn more about it…
Q: How did the morning of decision making look like?
A: It was not really a morning… I was thinking about it for a wile… I talked to Steve (op. her husband) about it…. It had been at the back of my mind for a while… But the moment that prevailed was: the company gave us an option over an e-mail for a retirement package and we needed to respond immediately... So, I was looking at the e-mail, talking to one of my friends and while I was talking to her I clicked and sent the confirmation for my retirement package… My last official date at work was August 1st and on July 31st I was at the top of Half Dome in Yosemite.
Q: How did you feel?
A: I felt very liberated…
Q: How did you feel 2 weeks later?
A: About the same. I enrolled into the Yoga Program. The day I was supposed to start the program was September 11 (THE September 11)… I remember, my mom called me in the morning, telling us to turn on the TV... We just sat there, watching… so I forgot about the school… a bit later the school called and rescheduled the start to the next day…. The first class I had was a philosophical one… I can still hear my teacher saying, “Just do not add to the violence”; I use this statement with my students even today.
Q: Than there was a decision about starting to teach….Was it hard to enter a new field, to start like a junior?
A: It was not hard at all…. I started teaching even before I started the program… that is how life is… when you make a decision you suddenly start getting offers everywhere…. I took a summer class… and the teacher invited me to join as an assistant … she offered me to take over her class... So, that summer I actually started teaching… Yoga became so popular in California that there was a huge demand for teachers… I got invited to act as a substitute for different teachers and after a while I developed my own group of students and I started doing it on my own…
Q: When have you thought for the first time about connecting the two worlds (the previous and the current)?
A: The two worlds have always been connected in some way. After working in an industry for a long time certain patterns just stay with you: I always plan my classes (almost like preparing a presentation), I always have a theme, 2-3 major points, I always start on time and end on time… I try to make contact with every student … so the habits of the business world come out unconsciously. But one of the things I’ve noticed more recently is that.. .in business you are constantly making decisions. I’ve realized that this is now missing in my life, so I would like to get this part of my life active again… and that is where the idea about my own studio came from. I really want to have my own place where I can create a positive space that attracts people that value that… So, that is what I am working on right now.
Q: Have you noticed changes in your behavior, perception of the world?
A: Oh, yes. I do not get headaches. By nature, I am very impatient person but I am noticing that I do not get annoyed any longer with “normal stuff”, little things in life (like busy traffic) I am a lot more compassionate about people…
Q: Which thought would you share with people who are pursuing management careers?
A: Managing people is difficult. In my opinion, most people want to be told that they are good. They really do not want to hear what they need to work on. So, if you get employees that have difficulties it is hard to get them together and focus them on common goals. The best managers are the people that know how to manage themselves. A good manager needs to be a role model first. And that is true in the yoga world, too. I need to be good. I need to live what I teach. In the Business world, managers need to be doing everything to the best of their abilities to become a role model to their people then the rest will follow. And you really need to know the business. If you want to manage engineers you do not need to be the best engineer but it is critical that you have a strong engineering background – otherwise your people won’t respect you.
Q: Should everybody follow your path?
A: No. Everyone has to follow their own path. Just follow your intuition. Some of the best decisions I’ve made, I made when I didn’t think of the outcome. If we really listen to our inner voice there is always something that is pulling us forward. Just listen. There is just so much noise in our lives that it’s hard to listen to the inner voices. We need to create a space for ourselves so that we can hear.
Sarah story is very deep and inspiring. It was not the intention of this article to suggest that we all have to become yogis to be happy and to add value to a society. Her story is a bit extreme, however, the major message is clear. Follow your dreams, follow your inner guidance and be ready to invest in it. And you will find your path and will experience the peace and balance in life. In economically developed societies we will be seeing more and more of truthful moves in business as well. And that could be the hope for European economy – centered, confident, innovative individuals, willing to invest in dreams and share them with a high level of empathy the wisdom, wealth and happiness with society they work within. Are you following your inner call?