By Milind Kher
Contributory Author for Spark Igniting Minds
When life is at its toughest, someone suddenly enters, and then totally transforms it. This is exactly what happened when I met Vinita Vyas.
To understand my situation, we need to go back to a little over a year ago, to early 2018. I had finished a series of training programs and was very much looking to take things to the next level. What I needed was guidance, direction, and support. Now that is a really tough ask. For that, one needs a friend, philosopher, and guide, who is also very savvy and can help us navigate some very choppy waters indeed.
So here I was, very eager to take on the world – only I did not know where to begin and what to do. People were doing well, looked confident, and that further added to my anxiety. Would I measure up? Things were really not looking that good.
Entered Vinita Vyas, the person who would transform everything. I had met Vinita in my program on holistic wellness where she had been a participant. Her grace, eloquence, and genuine warmth had greatly impressed me and I had decided then itself that in Vinita I had found somebody with whom I could really do good things ahead. We then created the idea of Coffee Connect. This was to be a powerful concept, and the power can be felt from the fact that our very first meeting (over coffee!) lasted a marathon five hours. Vinita told me that Coffee Connect would be the way forward, to connect with people. She told me that we could have a Whatsapp group where we could have discussions, and then an offline meet regularly. “Milind,” she said, “Remember, there always has to be the promise of an offline meet to be fulfilled. There is no substitute for that.”
This was a revelation for me. Being so used to virtual connections, I looked at that as the be-all and end-all of the connection. This is where her theatre genius came into play. I am a visual person and usually view life from that lens. She taught me that auditory and kinesthetic aspects are important for us to focus on to have a deep impact on the audience. To come back to Coffee Connect, the concept was a masterstroke, and I am ever so grateful to Vinita for this. No venue charges, no registration charges, you just pay for what you consume. You could listen to experts talk. You could bond and network extensively. A networking meet and expert talk, all just for the price of a coffee. Many people liked it and there are demands from many places to run it. A very good lesson I learned from Vinita was about staying cool.
I was an anxiety-prone individual, and highly sensitive too. My metamorphosis in this is total to the credit of Vinita. I am substantially cooler in my response and I do not allow my sensitivity to get the better of me. Vinita taught me not to be formal and not to stand on ceremony. “Milind,” she said, “It makes a huge difference to the level of rapport we create when we are cool and informal”. I found that the kind of perspectives that Vinita was providing was something like a curated content of life. It is indeed very true that an hour with a wise person is like a month of learning with books.
This was indeed what I experienced with Vinita. Pearls of Wisdom providing the essence of life, and that too, wonderfully demonstrated by example. This is what set the stage to usher in another huge change in my life.
A new paradigm of thinking altogether. Let me explain. Philosophizing on life, one observation stood out in sharp relief. Everything in life has a user manual except life itself. What if we could come out with something that would serve as one? It could provide a great breakthrough. That is where the concept of #Sarathi #ManualOfLife originated. Sarathi literally means charioteer and Sarathi is therefore meant to enable people to navigate the course of life.
Being a coaching intervention, Sarathi is more about powerful questioning and enabling people rather than being prescriptive. In fact, given the fact that everybody has an entirely different set of circumstances, it is not even possible to be prescriptive about life. Vinita has taught me focus and how to measure things. Being rather emotional and touchy-feely, I would allow meets to meander, the focus being on ensuring that people attending were happy. Vinita is equally solicitous about the happiness of others. The difference is that her head is more squarely on her shoulders than mine is. She said that it is, of course, wonderful to look after people and see that they are happy. At the same time, she stated that it was necessary for the meets to be time-bound so that everything that was intended to be covered did get covered. Also, for the sustainability of the meets there had to be concrete takeaways that added value. This approach has greatly helped in my outreach to people and I would like to explain how. Distances are huge and time is short.
Therefore, it is important for people to get the best out of connecting (Vinita is not a great fan of the concept of “networking” and always prefers to connect rather than the network). The huge support that Vinita has provided is the creation of “VM initiatives”. Taken from the initials of our first names, these are a string of initiatives that are intended to help participants acquire life skills in a focused and powerful manner. We are working on numerous modules that would further our cause in our M-A-D (Make a Difference) Objective I would like to now talk about how having Vinita in my life has made a difference to me and observing what she has done what I infer are the good things that an effective coach and a responsible leader do. I have received huge moral support from Vinita. Charting choppy waters, I know that I am not alone and that my coach is with me (which is why Vinita’s favorite hashtag #AskYourCoach always features in our posts.
A disclaimer is appropriate to mention here. Asking us does not mean that we will provide the answers for you. Instead, we will use powerful questioning to point you in the direction of the answers so that you arrive at the answers yourself I am now much better equipped to be able to approach people methodically, build their confidence, and in every interaction, highlight to them how to make the journey together. Exposure to the concept of theatre has substantially widened my repertoire and has for sure made me substantially more versatile. The mention of Vinita as an author is important at this juncture. For the simple reason that this has made a significant difference. Vinita has written a very powerful book on personal branding. It is called “Reinventing Brand You – The Theatre Way”. Something very striking about this book is that it looks at things totally from the reader’s perspective That makes it very easy for the reader to identify with what is being said. A very good feature is that this provides a number of exercises. Exercises always make the learning experiential and therefore this helps to learn to stick. I have gained substantially in terms of being far cooler and sorted than I was earlier. My vision in viewing things in the right perspective is sharper and my width and depth of thinking have both improved.
I believe that observing Vinita’s behavior and methods will have useful takeaways for readers on how they should shape up not only as coaches, they should know how to be better human beings as well. Being accessible I understood from Vinita that being accessible makes it easy for people to approach us. More people get helped that way, and in the process, our clientele also goes up Being nonjudgmental People are always worried about being judged and that prevents them from being the best version of themselves. When we are not judgmental, we make them feel very comfortable. They then open up to us and the rapport they share with us goes up substantially Be fair When people know that we are being fair to them, their feeling of well-being is substantially enhanced and they give us a good response as well have empathy Everybody wants to be acknowledged, appreciated and accepted. When we display deep empathy towards them, we make that happen. That has a deep positive impact on the way they respond. Be supportive, it takes enormous courage for people to bring about a change in their lives and within themselves too.
Being supportive, does this so what did Vinita do? And what does she continue to do? Vinita did all the above and more. The most heartening thing was that she made it clear that I was not an option, I was a priority. Self-esteem works wonders for our