Thursday, 26 December 2013

Of Resolutions and Deep Commitments to Oneself

Recently we had an interesting discussion in a small but pretty intense group of entrepreneurs and coaches. Subject was- "New Year Resolutions- Why do we create them and why, most of them fail their fructification?” Conclusions were deep. We create resolutions to express ourselves. Through those achievements- we are really reflecting on who we are and who we actually want to be. And resolutions invariably fail when they miss connect between our core and deepest yearning.

So, which part of my potential wants to manifest? What is the promise of 2014? What is energy of 2014? Which are those deepest gifts of mine that are eager to blossom and bloom in the times and seasons of 2014?

Wishing you all a Great Discovery and Happy Holiday Season J


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Quantum Physics meets Spiritual Wisdom: of Holograms, Upanishads and People Development

I stumbled upon the following paragraph from "Create a world that Works" by Alan Seale. It reads as:

....."We live in a holographic universe. A hologram is a pattern that is whole and complete within itself, which , at the same time is part of larger pattern that is whole and complete within itself , which is, in turn , a part of a larger pattern that is whole and complete and so on. In a hologram, every part contains the essence of the whole; each piece of a holographic picture contains the essence of the entire picture."

Now let me take you back in time- sometime between 100 to 500 BC in India.
Invocation verse from Isha Upanishad:

"That is whole; this is whole. From that wholeness comes this wholeness. Taking wholeness out of wholeness- what remains indeed is wholeness"

Implication- (This) Individual holds the complete essence of (that) Cosmic Consciousness.

It indeed is an extremely powerful paradigm. It's empowering - gives tremendous hope, confidence and positive frame- rather whole new way of looking at things. It also cuts all the possibilities of self-pity and helplessness.

Transformational Presence Coaching tools make this paradigm useful- accessible to make the inner shift happen in tangible way.

In the contemporary and future Organizational Context, I propose that if not all, but at least a critical mass of People Managers are taught concepts and skills of Coaching – in addition to traditional people ‘management’ methods and tools.  For a literate and well aware talent force, there is going to be far higher premium on people skills and aspects of tapping People Potential, Emotional Quotient, Spiritual Quotient, and Purpose Driven Leadership in times to come. Rather, the time is already here. We need to equip people managers and leaders with right concepts and skills.
-          Rajesh


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Coaching- Holding the Space of Exploration and Discovery*

In transformational and life coaching subjects, I realized that holding the space of Exploration and Discovery for Client works wonders.

Coaching process becomes an incredible journey when Coach invites Client to "see", "explore", "feel" and "describe" the entire mindscape- the process becomes much more dynamic and engaging.

In my personal experience, I find myself becoming less attached to the "Outcome" oriented coaching.

Rather, holding Exploration and Discovery space for the Client is fascinating as Client becomes much more mindful, alert and both Coach and Client find operating with exalted intuition. Client invariably discovers something deeper and much more profound - if only the temptation of achieving "Result" or "Outcome" is not prematurely brought into the process.

I’d like to present a coaching situation and coaching dialogue. It was a great learning and fascinating experience for me as a Coach.

Alex* is in his late-thirties and works as a head of business development function in mid-sized Media & Communications Company. Life has not been easy for Alex as for last 7 years or so, as he has been going through troubled relationships at personal and  work front. He is a tenacious person and determined to transform his life through various endeavors and thus began our coaching relationship.

Coach: What would you like to discuss today?

Alex: People do not understand me; these days they all want to understand and conclude the way it suits them. I am really sick and tired of it.

Coach: So, what is the agenda Alex?

Alex: I want to discuss why people don’t listen to me.

Coach: I hear you say that you want to discuss why people do not listen to you. What is it about Alex? It is about all the  ‘people in your life’ or something else?

Alex: [after a long pause) I guess it must be something to do with my attitude or  my style.

Coach: How would you like to start?  

Alex: Let me tell what happened in a client meeting. I was making a point to this client and after sometime, he (client) simply got up and said “you are not even willing to listen to what I am saying…it is futile to discuss further...” and he walked away abruptly. I only wanted to help and give solution...but he simply has an attitude of..

Coach: (firmly interrupts) Thanks Alex-I do not see point in discussing your Client- if I may invite you to recollect another situation.

Alex: Yes, I am not in great terms with my girlfriend anymore. We were discussing about possibility of marriage for last several months. During our last discussion she suddenly flared up and said “forget just don’t want to understand...”

At this moment Alex suddenly stopped and became reflective.

Coach: What did you see Alex?

Alex: I see a pattern. People invariably are telling me something...but I don’t listen- I always try to push my view. Many times they give all the cues…all the answers...but I guess I refuse to listen.

 Coach: What makes you not listen to them?

Alex: It makes me feel weak- it makes feel powerless. I feel if I listen to them, then they would get what they want out of me- and take my advantage.

{Silence- Coach held the space of silence yet remaining attentive to Alex.}

Alex after some time made an eye contact with the coach.

Coach: What would you like to do Alex?

Alex: I guess I need to improve my listening skills. I need to practice my listening skills.

Coach: How would you describe the quality of your listening with yourself?

Alex: (after a long pause)- I guess I have been avoiding listening to my inner voice.

Coach: May I invite you to start practicing your listening skills with yourself?

Alex: (tentatively) Ok…let me try.

Coach: Alex, I would invite you to close your eyes- be aware of your aware of your aware of the point of stillness within yourself.

(After a few minutes)

Alex, what to do you hear?

Alex: I hear noise- I do not know what exactly it is.

Coach: What do you see?

Alex: I see a skinny man with sharp features- he’s looking at me with suspicion.

Coach: Would you like to tell him something?

Alex: Yes, I want to tell him that I’d listen to people carefully- before making a point.

That man is saying something.

Coach: What do you hear?

Alex: He is yelling…”Are you crazy? They will just kill you…they will just run you over.”    

Coach: I’d invite you to listen to him deeply.

Alex: I am getting uncomfortable...but let me try

[After about five minutes of silence]

Alex: He is saying the same thing…but that energy has gone down.

Coach: And how are you feeling now?

Alex: I feel some kind of a space- I feel less tensed.

Coach: Would you like to say something to that man?

[Long silence]

Alex: I put my hand around his shoulder and told him…”look, things will be fine. There should be a different way in life now...and I am confident we both would be fine”.

Coach: Alex, I invite you to give all your attention to what he is saying.

Alex again went into a deep silence.

Alex: He is much more relaxed now. His face his softer and wants to try it out.

Coach: What are the next steps Alex?

Alex: I would like to listen to my team members more- would explain to one of them whom I trust that I consciously want to listen and understand first. And request her to give me regular feedback on how am I doing.

I also want to discuss this client with my boss and listen to what he wants to say.

Coach: I once again invite you to bring your awareness on your body…your breath...your muscles….your posture.

Alex: I feel lighter...but I a am also tired; want to sleep now.

-          We concluded the coaching session.

In the next session, Alex reported that after the previous session, he slept for several hours and he felt extremely relaxed and peaceful during the sleep; something that he had not experienced for a long time.

He also shared his new listening approach and positive changes that he’s noticing in people’s reactions towards him.

  This was a multi-layered coaching experience with many insights. Holding on to the space of exploration and discovery, without getting worried whether we are getting into ‘therapy’ realm worked well- in fact, that proved to be key for the successful outcome of that coaching session.

-          Rajesh

 (* This article is part of ‘Chronicles of a Coach’ series. ‘Chronicles of a Coach’ series is intended to serve coaches, leaders & managers who have coaching as part of their professional responsibility, and also individuals who are curious about what coaching is and what coaching can do. Coaching subject, situation and coaching conversation is real; identity of the client is however changed completely to protect confidentiality and privacy.)

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Living in Alignment with one’s own Essence

Recently I attended a Transformational Workshop. It was deep, intensive work and facilitator had great deal of value to offer. All the participants were quite accomplished in their respective areas and had their own objectives, unique to themselves in terms of potential takeaways.

It was quite a rich and humbling experience to go through the process myself as a participant, as an observer and active contributor to the workshop and to my fellow participants.

The most striking takeaway for me was to see how life starts falling in place when individual gets in touch with his/her own Essence and starts lining in accordance with it. We struggle to find clarity, right motivation- we try and put some structures/order to get results and yet come out frustrated as they fail to provide solutions.

On the other hand, when we drop struggle and get centered and aligned with our Essence- magic starts happening. Mind gets quitter, inner noise subsides, and Intellect loses its arrogance and becomes available for a matured enquiry- and new potentials open up. In the workshop I experienced and saw this magic happening.

Sounds like great esoteric stuff! But what is the essence? Where to find it? And it is the same for all?

Spiritualist and quantum physicists would say that Essence at its ultimate level is the same for all. For practical level, Essence is quite individual and unique. Living in accordance with the same brings us great learning, joy, evolution and also presents our unique gifts to the world. Living in accordance with our Essence thus pretty much becomes the lifelong mission- rather the only worthy assignment.   

And this is applicable at the organizational levels also. Breakthroughs happen, large and complex projects get implemented in miraculous ways when interventions, strategies or projects are aligned with the Essence of the organization. Things do not work well, no matter whether biggest of the consulting firms are engaged or how many millions of dollars are invested.

For Leaders, Managers and Coaches, there is a great value to understand this principle and put it in living- every single day!

So, what is your Essence?

I invite you to find it out J



Sunday, 27 October 2013

From Management of Time to Engagement with Life*

Carol* wanted to discuss her problem with Time Management. She complained about being overworked for most part of her professional life- working for more than twelve hours a day and getting exhausted.  She wondered how ‘others get so much time to work, socialize, attend seminars/training programs, attend fitness regime…whereas despite a breakneck schedule, she reaches nowhere’.

The coaching conversation that followed, I’d say is fairly representative of many individuals who have similar problems. Through coaching conversation, Carol realized that she was missing something very fundamental.

Here are the excerpts:           

Carol: I am so tired and exhausted- I have no energy even to catch a peaceful sleep. I have lost balance of my life for many, many years.

Coach: You are obviously exhausted and also sound frustrated. What is it all about?

Carol: Howsoever hard I work; I do not get enough time to take care of my simple needs. It makes me feel sick. I wonder how others manage to get time to do all things!

Coach: Well, do you know such people?  

Carol: Yes, there are many. For instance, my boss- he has all the time to attend his gym, socialize, take his family out on vacation and respond to all the mails and queries that we have. I think I am lousy at Time Management!

Coach: And what does that make you feel like?

Carol: I feel stupid- I cannot imagine me giving time to things that I like. Time is always so short.  I think I’d like to discuss better time management and prioritization.

Coach: Sure! Let’s deal with prioritization. What happens when you do things that you like?

Carol: Well, I feel excited, I feel alive, I feel motivated- I feel energized.

Coach: Are you saying that you get energy from doing things that you love?

Carol: Yes, that’s what I said

Coach: So, Carol- if you take stock of last couple of days or whoever time horizon that you choose and list how many things you did that gives you energy.

 Carol: Hmmm…hardly, rather- none whatsoever, I think.

Coach: You have been expending and exhausting your energy. What is your model of replenishing it?

Carol: I got it! My issue is not time management but how I overall engage with my life and things that are important to me!


At this moment, Carol could clearly see that her issue is not time management. She could see herself not honoring her own needs to engage in activities which matter her the most. Having understood the real issue, Carol went about re-constructing her daily routine. She could identify five hours in a day which she can effectively utilize in her physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual well-being.

If you relate with Carol’s problems- if you have issues that are similar to hers- then please check- are you doing justice to yourself? How well are you engaging with your own life?

-          Rajesh Vaidya

 (* This article is part of ‘Chronicles of a Coach’ series. ‘Chronicles of a Coach’ series is intended to serve coaches, leaders & managers who have coaching as part of their professional responsibility, and also individuals who are curious about what coaching is and what coaching can do. Coaching subject, situation and coaching conversation is real; identity of the client is however changed completely to protect confidentiality and privacy.)

Manager as a Coach- Can Twain Ever Meet?

In HR meetings, conferences and HR sites, one of the common questions that one comes across is “Can operating manager be a coach? Is it possible for a manager to wear both the hats?’

I’d like to share my personal experience which hopefully would clarify some questions around it. Though anecdotal, but I believe it serves its purpose to a great degree.

While leading strategy driven systemic changes at the Organizational level has been my area of work for many years- I knew I was missing the joy of engaging at individual level and watch the miracle called “transformation” happen. During my quest to find a long term, structured solution- I came across a Coach- who was a practicing senior level manager, then a consultant and now a full time coach.

In the very first meeting, I presented him with a barrage of questions.  [Later, in every meeting when he’d introduce me to others, he made a practice to say that “Be careful, Rajesh always has lots of questions...”]

To summarize, my questions were something like these?

“Can a practicing manager be a Coach? “

“A manager is busy making decisions- directing people, telling, solving problems- whereas coaching involves facilitation, allowing people to do deeper search and find solutions for themselves- where is the time for coaching?’

“Isn’t it better to engage services of consultants rather than embarking on long drawn coaching program?”

Conversation that followed thereafter brought about a great deal of clarity- here are the excerpts-


Coach:  What kind of people do you hire in your organization?

Rajesh: Well, at my level, I have been consciously hiring capable, experienced and ambitious people with right values at right place- these are the people who take the Organizations forward.

Coach: I heard you say that a manager is busy making decisions, giving solutions, directing, telling etc. Do such capable and experienced people required repeat telling, selling decisions etc.

Rajesh: Well, not always, but at times they require clarity.

Coach: What I heard you say that only at times they require clarity, but for most of the time their managers are busy doing exactly what their team members are perfectly capable of doing by themselves.

Rajesh: Yes, it’s kind of dilution of capability.

Coach: What kind of work style do you personally prefer?

Rajesh: Well, I like my manager giving me desired results, success vision and broad direction on how to go about. I need space and freedom in terms of going about it.   

Coach: And how do you feel when your manager directs you most of the time, he expects periodic feedback and puts a rigorous monitoring around your activities.

Rajesh: I already feel stifled as you say all these. Yes, I have gone through such phases in my professional like and it felt frustrating. It felt so small!

Coach: And how was it while working with managers whom you enjoyed working with?

Rajesh: Well, there was freedom, trust; I felt my manager believed in my capabilities. Mistakes were treated as learning experiences and I knew I worked in a non-judgmental, safe environment.

Coach: So Rajesh, can practicing manager be a Coach?

Rajesh: I got the point, thank you!

This conversation brings out some key aspects.

Coaching works for intrinsically motivated individuals, who want to learn new competencies, raise their performance bar and have an overall positive journey.

 With an internal measurement, effort  improvement yardsticks already in place, all that the manager of such individual needs to do is  create a non-judgmental, objective and feedback based environment.

I personally experimented with creating a structure wherein apart from on-the-job coaching which happens during the flow of work, I agreed with my colleague upon specific coaching hours in a week. Discussions, outcomes and action plans were recorded and reviewed in the subsequent meetings. I can say with confidence that such formal structure multiplies the effectiveness of individual development and nurturing talent.   

My conclusion- Manager as a coach is not a hypothetical concept- there are many successful managers who are already donning Coach Hat and getting wonderful results out of their reporting employees. Creating a formal support structure further adds to its effectiveness.

-          Rajesh Vaidya


Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Relationship between Goals and Values

Recently there was an interesting discussion in a group on ‘Relationships between Goals and Values’.

This post presents summary of interesting points:

Goals are understood and seen in the context of Action-Behavior, Time and Space.

Values are deeper and spread on a larger time canvass- many times through the entire life span of an individual

Goals that are in alignment with values, provide deeper connect with self-purpose and thus become meaningful.

Opposite may not give sense of satisfaction; they can be very transactional, overwhelming or draining.

Connect between Values-Purpose and Goals is very important. If certain Goals do not inspire us, if they do not give an Emotional Drive or Sense of Purpose- then it is a very good idea to sit back and reflect- “Is it really worth it? What is the trade off in accepting this goal with respect to time and effort? Should I be rather doing something else?”

Answers to these simple and powerful questions can be surprize you/

Just try it out!



Sunday, 14 July 2013

Gift of Presence

We keep running to achieve something, to become something.

Not enough time is spent on fathoming the depths within.

Not enough time is given to be present for ourselves.

There are precious, priceless jewels of compassion, empathy, respect and understanding lying for a very long time.

Waiting to be discovered- or waiting to be polished.

In leadership, communication and coaching, great deal of importance is given to Presence.

Presence is a wonderful gift that we can offer to other individual.

I think we also need to offer the gift of our presence to ourselves, more frequently- and that’s  something extremely beautiful that we can do to ourselves.



Saturday, 6 July 2013

Is Empathy Trainable?

In one of the Training related e-groups, someone posted a question “Is Empathy Trainable?”

It evoked interesting responses- while most of the answers were affirmative, there were a few opined that Empathy is not trainable.

I thought it was an interesting question and it would be worthwhile to understand what Empathy is and what we understand by “Training”

Empathy is defined “as the capacity to recognize emotions that are experienced by other sentient or fictional being”. Empathy is a very powerful attribute or competence for those who especially are in the field of ‘human profession’- like management, counseling, mentoring, psychotherapist, healing, coaching, nursing etc.

Empathy is innately present in human beings and I’d dare say, that in some animals- it can be much more developed than human beings. Those who have pet dogs and (treat them well) may agree with my statement.

Empathy is to be discovered- it is to be explored. It cannot be shifted or transferred from one individual to another. One needs to suspend judgment, be in the same space of emotions and awareness of other being to empathize. Developing empathy is a powerful developmental experience for an individual.

If the ‘Empathy training’, has elements of exploration, discoveries, suspending judgment- being present completely with other person- then yes, Empathy can be trained.      

Would love to learn your views!

-          Rajesh

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Coaching Diaries- Dancing in the Moment with the Client

I came across this wonderful expression- “Dancing in the moment with the Client”. I think it captures the beauty of client centered coaching approach.
Focusing entirely on the client during the coaching session, listening- feeling what he/she is expressing and partnering in expanding his/her own awareness about oneself is a wonderfully fulfilling process.

When a leader or a coach, partners with a client to bring out the better or best out of him/her- the relationship in itself become transcendental. There is commitment to growth, expansion and touching higher realm within oneself.   

It offers a great opportunity to the Coach to practice selflessness. A powerful coaching session invariably energizes the Coach to be fully alive in each moment- be fully Aware of the Client- and oneself. And living in Awareness is beautiful!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Awakening the Purpose of Life: Power Coaching

Doing things that are consistent with one’s nature always are fulfilling and bring meaning to self. And amidst those cues of actions, life hides its purpose. Discovering it is bit like “Treasure Hunt” game- challenging, stimulating, frustrating at times- but exciting nonetheless.

Great Masters, both of the past and present have emphasized on discovering Purpose of Life.

For a coach, it would be a powerful action to challenge the client in discovering his/her Life-Purpose. And for the Client, it could potentially be an extremely engaging, creative and fulfilling experience. While ‘finding purpose’ may not be the expected coaching outcome- but finding that primordial source of Energy and, building subsequent actions/programs around it could be a very empowering and liberating experience for the client.

Here are some great quotes on Purpose:

“Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose”- Leonardo da Vinci

“He who has a ‘why’ to live for can almost bear any ‘how’”- Friedrich Nietzsche

“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it”- Gautama the Buddha
Bringing in the Purpose aspect is bringing in the Alchemy- it can transform the coaching process into something extraordinarily precious

Personal Excellence

Excellence is a heightened state of existence. Pure brilliance has a magical ability to transform mundane into inspirational. It uplifts the ordinary into aspirational, into a shining effulgent star which acts as a guiding angel for self as well as others who are in the circle of one’s life. Excellence is the Alchemy with transforms worthless into priceless.

Path of excellence is often lonely. It consists of those small minutes and hours of the day wherein we make choices about what we want to do, how we want to deal with various aspects of our lives and act on them. Former heavy weight boxing champion, Joe Frazier said... “You can map out a fight plan, but when the action starts, it may not go the way you planned, and you are down to your reflexes- which means your training, That’s where your roadwork shows. If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, well, you are getting found out now under the bright lights.”

The journey is no way easy. It has its ups and downs. Many a times circumstances do not favour your decisions. Unforeseen priorities spring from nowhere and you get sucked into chores of life which neither inspires you, nor does it compliment your true calling. There are times when lethargy sets in…or we tend to take things easy- we get de-focused. But the true seeker and practitioner of excellence keeps bouncing back.  Setbacks or failures caused even due to one’s own mistakes are used as fuel to move ahead in the journey of excellence.

Couple of years ago, I came across a quote from Lao Tzu, “Great Master weakens the ambition of the followers and strengthens their resolve.” I could not understand “weakens the ambition” part. After all, what is life without ambition- I wondered! After a few years of experiential learning, I started to see the point. Many of us undertake so many projects, initiatives, yet how many of those ambitious ventures see the final fructification? Many of them die right in the early stage. After getting enough knocks and deviations on my certain life goal plans, I understood the importance of “Strengthening the Resolve”.

It does not matter how big the quantity of one’s goals is. Pertinent questions- “Are those goals really worthy? And if they are, then what is the level of commitment I am going to behind their achievement?”  Approaching one’s goals with focus and sustained commitment produces Excellence and Excellence creates Magic!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

In Search of Roots & Stars: Re-Discovering Lost Treasures of Work

Off late, I am doing some hands on studies (book reading, discussions with experts, interpreting psychometric profiles etc.) on Leadership Personalities, Leadership Behaviors and their impact on People and Performance. And this quite a fascinating area to explore!

Thoughts, Behaviors and Actions of a leader are akin to origin of a river. It starts like a small stream. But gains momentum and power while flowing downstream. Authenticity, High degree of self- awareness, Balance of mutually complementing strengths and commitment to build a competent, value oriented apex leadership team are so very vital for sustainable Organizational progress.

There are interesting accounts of how once successful or charismatic CEOs failed miserably, when they became slaves of their own selfish ego-drivers. When a CEO uses his key strength blindly, without realizing its impact on people, things star cracking down and later they become interesting case studies of a failed hero.

 It is fair to give some benefit of doubt to CEOs/Apex leaders as they constantly reel under unrealistic expectations of board members, investors, media amidst volatile market trends and competition.

It is important to address fundamental issues of how much need, ambition and greed should we place as a driving force in the business organizations.

I was fortunate to get exposure to high level discussions on operating budgets, mid-term planning and strategic planning from very early stages of my career. I can vividly recollect those matured discussions, whose focus primarily remained on new products, re-defining customer service, process innovations and meaningful HR programs. And I also was part of discussions which did not go beyond financial numbers and sales growth targets. Former were stimulating and engaging. In later, everybody went through motions without any real connect. 

Let the focus be back on serving customer needs, creating value through innovations. Let sales and growth targets reflect intent of ambition, but not the end in all.

Let us reclaim the joy of work from slavery of stress. Let there be matured work ethos flourishing on strong roots of cherished values Respect, Integrity and Employee/Customer Centricity.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Beyond Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a key contemporary topic in organizations. It often features as one of the high level performance metric. There are credible research articles on how organizations with more engaged employees outperform lesser counterparts on hard performance indicators. In my view, Employee Engagement is a manifestation. It is a lag indicator of something deeper.
When powerful majority investors and/or board puts ambitious expectations- bordering on greed on its operating management, then the challenge is – can employee engagement be driven as a philosophy or it degenrates into a mere set of fancy buzzwords and initiatives? Explosion of knowledge/information and global connectedness- thanks to technology- has made a profound impact on employee demographics and behaviors. They cannot be convinced by empty rhetoric. It’s the time for authentic leadership- stating and standing for what ones believes in.
I see a silent but definite shift in behavior of the workforce today. Noticeably, it is a pleasure watching  Gen-Y workforce traits at work. They are unafraid to speak their mind out, want work-life balance and want to do something meaningful in and through their work.
Leadership with dual standards will be increasingly tested and challenged in years to come. There may be expressed disapproval or passive resistance or even turnover- but contemporary workforce is not going to accept substandard or two faced leadership.
Time for new paradigms, fresh perspectives and deeper search of leadership ethics…fascinating indeed!