Coached for life

The journey to the top often needs customisation. The rising popularity of life and executive coaches bears testimony to the fact that people aren’t hesitating to benefit from the push, writes Nasrin Modak Siddiqi

Everyone needs a coach, one who can look at performances more objectively. Even Sachin Tendulkar would not be a master blaster without a good coach.

When 45-year-old Kulwinder Singh, chief communication officer at Cadila Pharmaceuticals, took a break from his previous job, he used the time to reflect on his past achievements and to look ahead to seek skills and capabilities required to prosper in the next job. “In times when things are changing rapidly, it’s important to future-proof your success. On the recommendation of my mentor, I sought help from a specialist life coach with whom I was comfortable sharing personal and professional information with,” says Singh. What was interesting was that the coaching intervention wasn’t focused only on Singh’s work performance but it had a lot to do with his overall well-being.

“You can’t succeed in one aspect of life ignoring the other — the balance is crucial for success,” he adds. While his previous job was in the financial services industry, the coach helped reinvent Singh’s focus and emphasised on areas that challenge him to look at other industries without prejudice. “Based on the initial analysis, the coach shortlisted industries and areas that I could explore,” he adds.

Not alone

The six-month intervention began with a goal setting process (three to four sessions) for both his personal and professional life. In the weekly two-hour sessions, assignments were allocated (none in the first four weeks) to help find the next opportunity and increase Singh’s effectiveness in the same. “The intervention helped identify my strength and weaknesses and at the end of it, I felt I was in a better place — professionally and personally,” admits Singh.

There are many like Singh who — even at a later stage of life and career — do not hesitate to take professional help to achieve their purpose and goals. That’s why, life coaching is a serious, full-time profession now and many are benefitting from its offerings. Greeshma Thampi, chief image consultant and director, Avance Image Management, who has coached several CEOs, entrepreneurs, HR leaders, CFOs and celebrities believes, “Everyone needs a coach — one who can look at performances more objectively. Even Sachin Tendulkar — with all his talent — would not be a master blaster without a good coach. When individuals grow in their career, they are expected to give feedback to their team and juniors, but rarely do they get to analyse their own blind spots and areas of improvement. Even at leadership levels, one ought to seek validation to know if what they are doing is right or wrong.”
Adding further, victory coach Farzana Suri who has helped several individuals and businesses prosper says, “A life coach guides you to focus, move towards and achieve your personal and professional goals. By understanding who you are, your strengths, and how those can be leveraged to get you from where you are to where you’d like to be. A coach is your cheerleader, teacher, strategic partner, mentor and your voice of reason and accountability partner — who offers advice without any subjectivity. Through mindful strategies, they guide you through the hurdles to overcome challenges and acknowledge mistakes and victories.”

When the time is right…

How does one know they need the push? Most often than not, people are keen to achieve a set goal but have no idea how to get there, or feel stagnated. That’s the best time to seek professional help, say experts. “First, analyse if your time is spent on core activities or if you need help on certain aspects. Do you need feedback on how you handle daily tasks and on how they can draw you closer to your goal — it’s time you need a coach,” says Thampi. Having said that, ‘being coachable’ is an important aspect of coaching. Suri says, “When you’ve tried to resolve the situation you are in but are confused or overwhelmed by it, an external, unprejudiced expert can guide you through the phase. However, you must want to seek help and support and not hesitate to take professional help.”

A life coach guides you to focus, move towards and achieve your personal and professional goals.
A life coach guides you to focus, move towards and achieve your personal and professional goals.

Business moves

When 29-year-old marketing professional Sheena Jha’s dreams of scaling up the corporate ladder were worn down by a vitriolic boss and her own demanding family, she sought help from friends. The best they could do was advice based on their own limited experience. It didn’t help much. “What Jha needed was an objective perspective of her real strengths and the beliefs that stalled her growth into a repetitive pattern of negativity,” says Suri who helped Jha hold her space to be authentic and open. An analysis of her beliefs and the mental loops that impeded her was done through tests and evaluations. An honest assessment of her performance was conducted to hold her accountable for her relationship and professional goals. A plan was drafted to have her daily actions draw her closer to her goals. Suri believes the coaching was possible because Jha had the potential to be coached. “What I really did was to show her how she could grow and gain victory by unleashing the power within. Today she’s moved to the corner office as COO of a garment company and I’m glad to have helped,” says Suri.

Room for groom

When Shipra Khanna, a CFO with a private firm, was re-joining work after a sabbatical, she wanted to work on her presence before joining the company. Thampi and team coached her on various aspects, including applying professional make-up, dressing for success and even dining etiquettes to make the right impact in her new role. “There is a lot of information in books and on the internet but when you try doing it yourself, it leads to waste of precious time. Besides, you can’t always be sure of what works exactly for you. A coach offers bespoke solutions that help build your personal brand and executive presence in limited time to create the right impact,” says Thampi.

Life lessons

When prolific writer Jason D’souza (name changed) met Suri three years ago, his love marriage of 10 happy years had suddenly hit a bump. “When he was away at a shoot, his wife cleared his savings and the furniture, leaving the apartment bare. He was in shock and his mind was filled with questions — Why? What happened? Were there signs he should have seen? — to which there were no answers,” says Suri.

During his coaching sessions, D’souza confessed that his obsession with his work had created a void that he was in denial to see. He feared that his life was over. Suri’s role here was to help him pick up the threads and begin anew, to re-evaluate his relationship goals and work on himself and his obsessive need for financial security. “There was a lot of unlearning and relearning involved in making him view life with a confident and focussed approach. He has come to terms with the fact and uses his past experience to correct his mistakes, forgive and march towards victory. He’s a playwright in London and has recently met a woman who he is considering to marry.”

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