On March 24, 2020, India went on to a country-wide total lock-down as a preventive measure to control the spread of Covid-19. Like everyone else in the country and most people worldwide, I started working from home (WFH) in Bangalore, remotely managing my teams across India. We had encouraged a limited work from home policy the previous year, nudging colleagues to take it. Our colleagues welcomed it but not all availed of it, but the pandemic upended everything, and overnight all of our staff were 100% WFH.
It was just amazing and inspiring to see the swiftness with which colleagues adapted to the new normal, making space for work at home and delivering without missing a beat. Like most other organizations, my colleagues displayed a rare resilience that resonated across the organization and ensured our customers did not face many issues accessing our products & services.
During the same time, I witnessed the struggles that the pandemic inflicted upon families as they were struck with the tragedy of multiple lives & livelihoods lost. Everyone was doing their bit and showing compassion and fortitude in the face of an unexpected and unimaginable situation. All of this made me reframe my priorities, and I decided to move away from my very fulfilling and exciting role at a leading global legal tech corporation to take some time for myself and rethink my future. I was part of the great resignation during the pandemic - a phrase I came to hear in the last couple of months.
When I was leaving at the end of the year, my boss Eric said, 'I lost a colleague but keep a friend for life'. On reflection, I knew that all of them with whom I spent my waking hours working would remain dear friends or close acquaintances for years to come, depending on how strongly I can nurture those relationships.
After over 29 years of continuous work, I took a well-deserved break for the next 5 months till June, doing things I never could find the time when I was heading a corporate entity. The blessing of the pandemic was that we were all bound down at home, giving us enough and more time with my family - being under continuous lock-down during this time also meant that leisure activities were limited.
During these five months, as I was evaluating and rethinking my future plans that included doing something purposeful in the education space, I got a steady stream of requests from my network to be coached. At first, I didn't think much about it and let them settle, gently saying I would get back to them when I had thought about it. When the requests did not stop, I took a step back to reflect on what was happening and understood the absolute need for coaching for these senior professionals, and wanted to check with someone I admire very much - my coach Brigit Egan.
Brigit had coached me in 2017 for a leadership role, and her approach and methodology to coaching profoundly impacted my perspective on many aspects of my professional & personal life. I reached out to Brigit, and she helped me expand my thought around what I needed to do in this situation, connected me with her colleagues Simone Robinson, Robbie Lightwood, and Kevin Charlesworth at The Oakridge Centre, Manchester. These wonderful people helped me get clarity on the way forward and showed me the options to become an ICF accredited coach. I chose Barefoot Coaching Ltd, Derbyshire, the UK, to be my coaching academy.
I consider this as one of the best decisions of my life. I say this not only because of the quality of the program and the tutors- Linda Marshall, Caz Hawley, Polly Downes supported by Pete Mosely, Ted, and Dianne Hanna but also because of the beautiful cohort of some of the most amazing people whom I have met - Alex McIntyre, Anita, Amy Dewar, Andrew Gibson, Christian Wake, Johnatan Rodriguez (Jonas), Kusumanjali Ravindranath (Kusum), Laurent Houel, Lucy Franklin, Nicki Catterick, Ro, Sally Beeken and Sophie Bialaszewski. What a fab group we are! So lucky to have been in your cohort.
Now, all of us in the cohort group are moving slowly to become good acquaintances and friends. Building new bonds of camaraderie and friendship based on mutual trust and respect.
We have started on this journey believing in the power of compassion, unconditional positive regard, and the ability of every human being to have an infinite thinking capacity. This only needs another human to listen to them skillfully in a safe environment, suspending all judgment and respectfully holding a mirror at times to gently nudge them to shift or expand their thinking.
We have a few more weeks to go before the course at Barefoot Coaching gets over, and I am looking forward to nurturing these new bonds over the years that will come.
There is a deep sense of gratitude for those who have helped me in this journey to become a professional coach, starting with Brigit, who showed me the gentle power of coaching to bring in a transformation in me.
The course leads and my colleagues have spent many hours helping me practice the profession and constantly encouraging me with positive and intentional feedback.
My success today is mainly due to the significant role played by my many managers and mentors, starting with Raghu Srinivasan, Roystan La'Porte, Dr.N.Subrahmanyam (late), Shariq Mumtaz, and Eric Bonnet-Maes. Most of the transformative change has come from you; the rough edges are still mine to polish, so you can rest easy in the thought that I am working on them and will trouble you in the future!
The peers and direct reports with whom I had the pleasure of working all these years have coached me knowingly/ unknowingly and have been a part of my professional and personal life all these years.
For the first time in over three decades, I have the opportunity to give a designation to myself. I chose to be called Chief Gardener and Coach (with a lot of encouragement from my cohort and lead tutor- special call out to Anita!), as every human being can be nurtured like the plants in a garden through a thinking process to sprout and spawn new branches of thought and flourish.
Joining me in this journey, is my wife Glady, who had sacrificed her professional career at GE Capital to raise our kids and is now stepping back into the workplace after 20 years to help me set-up our firm as a partner managing the executive office. It's such an exciting time for me to have her work alongside.
If you have a professional or business challenge that you think could benefit from a coaching approach, don't hesitate to reach out to me or my friends in the cohort. We would be happy to provide you with a safe and confidential thinking environment to explore the best solution that you could think of.
Step into my garden, let's have a conversation. It could expand your horizon, lead to new perspectives and actions that bring in a transformational shift. Looking forward to seeing you sometime soon.
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