By Sharmila Chand January 2001 Shahnaz Husain, CMD, The Shahnaz Group It is important to have a dream and to believe in the magic of your dreams. You can achieve anything in life if you have total faith in your own abilities and the courage to follow your dreams. I have never believed in destiny. I believe you can make your own destiny," says Shahnaz Husain, the high priestess of beauty and the pioneer of Ayurvedic skin, hair and body care in India. That does not mean that she does not believe in God. In fact, she says that a beautiful woman is one who values herself physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. "I think you have to look within and value yourself spiritually. I always pray for inner strength, because it is this inner strength, which has helped me face tremendous odds," she reveals. "I owe a lot to my father. He taught me to have faith in my own abilities and to believe that nothing is impossible," she confesses. Educated in Oxford, her father had broadminded and secular views. "My father pointed out to us the goodness of all religions and the similarities, rather than the differences. He said that all religions are ways of reaching God and that all of them uphold love, peace, charity and brotherhood. That is why I believe that spirituality is also a commitment towards your fellow human beings." What would she attribute her success to? "I have always said that my work is not just my career, but the sole purpose of my existence. It has been an obsession with me. I have been single-minded about what I set out to achieve as far as my career is concerned. It always came first with me. It was not that I had a set goal in mind, but it was always foremost in my thoughts. All my dreams revolved around it. I found courage and energy because of this. When it came to my work, I would be oblivious to everything, to time, the weather, hunger, or any discomfort. Everything else seemed to be less important." Shahnaz believes that an entrepreneur, in the true sense of the word, is someone with independence of spirit. There are other necessary qualities too, like foresight. A sixth sense also helps to be able to feel the pulse of the market. One should be innovative, dynamic and willing to try every avenue towards success. Above all, she says, the desire to excel, sheer hard work and relentless determination matter. "I never give up and never stop trying. If you never stop trying, you cannot fail. I always feel I have another mountain to climb and another frontier to cross. I never rest on my laurels," she insists. In fact, true well being comes from a positive attitude, she opines. "I think challenges help me cope with stress and give me the strength to carry on. I believe that feeling good is an essential part of looking good. With a high level of physical fitness, both mind and body are not only able to improve their performance levels, but can handle stress better." However, for the queen of beauty, fitness is a matter of building good nutrition, exercise and relaxation into one’s lifestyle. "I have a demanding career, with hectic schedules. But I make it a point to set aside some time for daily exercise, which include deep breathing and yogic asanas. "Tension at the nape of the neck is common and can be easily relieved just by stretching the neck muscles and doing a few simple neck exercises. I find the tension decreases if I take a break for a few minutes," she says. "I can personally vouch for the results of exercising regularly and having a raw food diet. They have helped to improve the entire pattern of my life giving me vitality and enabling me to use my personal qualities and ideas to the best advantage. I think people need to think in terms of dynamic fitness. It is the key for a sound body and mind, sparked with vitality." Regarding spirituality in business, Shahnaz puts it thus: "I have applied spirituality in business dealings to the extent that I try to be true to myself and the values that I cherish. I have a sense of fair play and justice and I try to apply these in my dealings with others. I try to be honest to myself. Without this one cannot be honest towards others. "I have often gone beyond pure ‘business’ dealings as such, because to me dua (blessings) is important. Even if I have not applied these principles in management, there are other principles guiding my work. I have translated my ideas and feelings of spirituality into action by starting a free training school for the speech and hearing impaired. We also help them find employment in our franchisee and other salons after their training. I think spirituality also means a commitment towards our fellow beings." As for ethics in business, she feels: ‘Ethics and business should co-exist. In fact, you cannot last long in any business or profession without ethics. We are in a people’s business where we must follow ethics. I think each profession has certain ethics to guide it. Honesty, fairplay, justice and concern for the human aspect should guide one in business.’ Pursuing an interest or hobby also helps decrease stress. ‘For instance, many people relax by doing the daily crossword. In other words, even a change of activity can help. I like to listen to music or read poetry,’ Shahnaz concludes.
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