“Hey, I always wanted to ask you this…. Now that you
have retired, what do you do for living?” Lulu, my parrot asked as he settled
on a branch of the mango tree. Lulu had this habit of talking to me while I
looked out of the window of my room.
The mango tree was which was in full bloom till
recently, was laden with raw mangoes. I picked one and had a good bite.
“Well, I coach. Coaching is a very exciting thing to
do.” I replied as I ate the raw mango.
“Hmm…I am not sure I know what it is. There is no
coaching in the world of birds.”
“Well, that is one of the differences between men and
parrots; homo sapiens and Psittacula
krameri. By the way, I was always
curious about how parrots learn to fly. Tell me. It must have been very tough
thing to do.” I said biting sinking my teeth in the mango.
“Yes, indeed, very tough.”
Lulu shot back with a smirk. “I was just pushed out of the nest by my Mom. And
I discovered that I can fly. Actually it is not difficult. One must try. That’s
the time when you discover that you can do it. And yes, that’s one more
difference between men and parrots!” Lulu, my parrot, taunted me giving a ‘tit
for tat’ look.
“I wish things were so simple
in the case of men. We do not try enough. When things are going well we think
this is how it will run forever. But as they say, the trouble with future is
that it arrives before we are ready for it.” I said.
“So we coaches help people to
adopt new behaviour, imbibe change to be effective. All this, so that people are
ready to take on the challenges at work and in their life.” I said.
“Oh, okay. But I am not sure
if I have understood this right. How will you learn unless you take a plunge?
That’s what happens to us when we are pushed out of our nest. Aren’t you
mollycoddling your people? Is that the way people learn?”
“No, no! No mollycoddling at
all. In a sense the coach gives him the wings – nah, that’s also not right,
hmmm… a coach helps him discover his wings. We help people get ready for
the moment he has to take the plunge, like you, and fly.”
“How do you do this?” Lulu
asked. “Interesting, I say.”
“Now that’s a tough one. Several
books have been written on how to do it, yet it is something that cannot be
described; it is to be experienced.” I offered a raw mango to Lulu and said, “And
as they say, you can talk about your learning, but you can’t talk about your
experience. An experience cannot be described. Can you describe how you feel
when you nibble at this mango?”
“But surely there must be a
method. Do you engage them in a dialogue?”
“You question me like a lawyer
examining a witness, Lulu.” I said. “Yes, the method is a reflective one.
Managers don’t really learn by reading books, they learn because they meditate,
they reflect. That is how they reprogram their minds. My job is to help them
reflect and draw conclusions for themselves. Somebody told me that the word
‘dnyan’ or ‘gyan’ comes from Sanskrit word ‘dnya,’ some pronounce it ‘gya’ and
it means knowing oneself.”
“Man, you are getting
philosophical. Yes I agree. Self-awareness is the key to growth – Who does not
want to realise his potential? It is challenge enough to live up to our
dream of what kind of person we could be! But tell me, does everybody take
this coaching seriously?” Lulu asked.
“Well, it is really up to the
person to make use of it. Those who have given a thought to what success
means to them will really make use of the opportunity. So ultimately it
all depends on how a person defines ‘success.’ It is an elusive question.
In the hustle-bustle of corporate life, managers often do not spend time
thinking about it. Moreover, the answer keeps changing at various stages of
“And what was your answer?”
Lulu asked but did not really seek answer. He mulled over the his own question
and said, “I liked the Ralph Waldo Emerson’s definition of success: ‘To
laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection
of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the
betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to
leave the world a little better, whether by healthy child or a garden patch, or
a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier
because you lived; this is to have succeeded.’”
“That is wonderful.” I said.
“It captures everything.”
“Yes it does.” Lulu was lost
in his thoughts again. He asked, “Are you saying organisations are investing in making their managers
“Yes. Many organisations do. And they
bring a lot of commitment and passion to this job.”
“I can see why they promote learning
and development. But why are you doing it? What is in it for you?” Lulu
asked and said, “Wait a minute. I know the answer. I remember what you told one
of the coachees.”
“What was that?” I was surprised.
“You quoted Carl Jung who said, “The meeting of two personalities is
like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are
Very true. How come you know what I told my coachee?”
“I was listening
to your conversation. What else do you think I was doing perched on top of the
mango tree near the Training Centre?” Lulu asked as he flew away.
Labels: Coaching, Mentoring, Success