Coaching Promotes Agility

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Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives. Anthony Robbins

I have always had a perception of being an agile person. Like all, I get stuck but that feeling of being stuck makes me uncomfortable and propels me to look for solutions. This self-created image exerted an expectation and the pressure had driven me to a writers’ block. Normally, I am able to pen down an article quickly, this time I have opened and closed this page more times than I can count. What I observed is my attachment to a self created image and insistence for it to be right. I was getting coached on another issue and the insight of insistence showed up. As soon as I recognized the block, I realized that the expectations had blocked my creativity. I am sharing with vulnerability because letting go of my insistence on external perfection, has given me the freedom to write. External perfection is a fallacy of the mind, whereas internal perfection supports us to manage external dynamism with ease, speed and grace.

Agility is the mental and physical ability to be quick and graceful. Watching Olympics, I am always in awe of the agility with which swimmers, athletes, gymnasts and other sports people perform. Their sheer grace and ease is rhythmic. They move fluidly and land gently and perfectly. Similarly, a river flows, cuts a new course when it gets stuck and reaches its destination and merges with the ocean joyously. What’s common between those competing for excellence and that river is their self-trust in the possibility of potential and single-minded focus. To explore our potential and have single-minded focus, we need to be aware of our thoughts and as well as to the changes in the external environment.

Awareness, is a simple yet, a very powerful word. Choosing thoughts and acting with awareness requires high level of alertness and confidence in what one wants to do or say. How aware am I of who I am being moment to moment in relation to the world? Am I being happy, sad, stressed, aggressive, peace, flexible, attached to problems or solution oriented…how impacted are we every moment by the occurrences of the world and can we keep our eye on the ball irrespective. Every moment is a moment of choice. To be able to think and make decisions in the present moment, while keeping in mind the lessons from the past and the consequences of the future, there needs to be awareness of quality, quantity and direction of thoughts.

Coaching conversations help a person sift through the clutter of thoughts and become aware of their resistance or insistence. Coaching is like a springboard that helps a person to get unstuck and take a leap of faith. The coil is inside the person. The coach acts as a reflective mirror and unconditionally accepts the client as a resourceful and whole person who has the capacity and capability to discover insights, create solutions and move forward successfully. The partnership creates the space for a client to deeply reflect and introspect to discover and understand self. As a coach listens deeply and asks powerful questions, communicates the observations directly, acknowledges strengths and achievements, the coil starts to open up. As awareness of behavior and realization of potential gets created, the client is able to design the path forward and commit to change.

We live in an ever-changing dynamic world. Technology has added to the speed of dynamism and made agility an even more relevant attribute for leaders. Life is changing rapidly. The desire for permanence, expectations or wishful thinking hampers agility. Typically, the mind is cluttered with beliefs, fears, drama, interpretations, wants…the list is endless. Encountered with a situation, we run it through our lens of thoughts. Over time, as such situations reoccur, we often get similar results because there is limited change in our lens.

Recently, when Jio launched an aggressive market campagain to get mobile phone customers, it threatened the market share of Vodafone, Idea, Airtel and others. The telecommunication companies lost market share for a while before Vodanfone and Idea decided to go in for a merger. Would agility have been to proactively consider options prior to Jio’s launch or responding to the current scenario with a merger.

A gymnast progresses from doing a cart-wheel on a gym bar to doing flips and then multiple flips and lands perfectly, with ease and grace, there is limited room or time for judgment, expectation or thinking. Its an intuitive leap of faith. Similarly, with coaching, as we build self-awareness, we can play and practice to understand how the world responds to our thoughts and behavior. As the self-awareness grows, the self-confidence to engage with the world expands and one is able to take higher leaps of faith and create miraculous results. In a coaching conversation, it is unknown where the conversation will flow. The coach has to be fully present to dance in the moment with the client. The coach trusts the process, trusts the wholeness of the client and himself. The coach has no attachment or judgment, except commitment to excellence and service.

I have been working with a client for over two years. The assignment started with a need to have better interpersonal relationships with the team. With coaching, my client realized his gap in understanding of his team. As a leader, he realised that he needed to adapt his comunication according to the personalities of his team members, rather than expecting to be understood. The leader started hosting townhall meetings to invite apricipation, ideation as well to hear out grievances. This agility in communication and confidence in dealing with the team enabled my client to leverage the team and grow the business more than three fold.

Transition in career, life, and business stages are common coaching issues. I was delivering a group-coaching workshop at an NGO. They were a stable and high performing team. During the workshop, I realized that the energy of the audience was vanning. I had observed that the team had achieved significantly but had simply not sat back to take stock and acknowledge the power of their achievements. In that moment, I took a leap of faith and tabled my observation. The participants realized that they were stuck in a comfort zone. Noticing their agreement, I asked what new stretch goal would they like to agree on that would invigorate the team. The team created a bolder vision statement that inspired them to grow and move forward.

Ravi Venkatesan, former Microsoft India chairman in his book, Conquering the Chaos: Win in India, Win Everywhere, Venkatesan says India is an important market for more reasons than just its size and demography. It’s the “Petri dish” for innovation in products and services. The diversity of culture, language, market demographics, is so high in India, that it forces an organization to be constantly on vigil about the needs of the customer, and keep innovating. To be alert, the mind needs to be observant and be able to generate fresh ideas.

The blues is a mighty long road. Or it could be a river, one that twists and turns and flows into a sea of limitless musical potential. Billy Gibbons


Ashu as my executive coach has had a profound impact on my Professional & Personal life. Ashu's tools are simple conversations & powerful questioning, which makes you dig deep and reflect about ourselves in the context of the ecosystem we all exist. I have a lot to thank Ashu for helping me in my journey to be a better "me" & look forward to my continued association with her.

Vivek Venkatachalam

MD, IOT Infrastructure & Energy Services Ltd

...having Ashu as your coach is a God send. Because, Ashu's primary focus is not limited to addressing the immediate areas of concern but to transform you inside out. She helps you (if you let her) discover and reinforce your own core beliefs, values and approaches. Her approach is to focus on you such that you can grow across all dimensions, making you capable of reaching the "here" seamlessly… and empowering you to reach the future "theres" as well!

Rajeev Ved

VP & Country Head Ansaldo STS

Knowing and working with Ashu has been a personally and professionally enriching experience. Her worldview has a deep philosophical underpinning and is informed by clarity of thought and tempered by strong sense of honesty, compassion and generosity. Ashu has the desire and the ability to make a difference.

Mr. Jaideep Khanna

CEO & Country Head India, Investment & Corporate Bank, Barclays Capital India

Ashu has worked as a coach with my team on a few occasions to help improve teamwork and team dynamics. Working with a group of type A investment bankers can be pretty tough. Ashu was able to draw out the team to share their views openly in a constructive manner.

Mr. V Anantharaman

MD & Regional Head - Origination and Client Coverage & Co-Head - Wholesale Banking, South Asia, Standard Chartered Bank

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Coaching Promotes Agility

I have always had a perception of being an agile person. Like all, I get stuck but that feeling of being stuck makes me uncomfortable and propels me to look for solutions. This self-created image exerted an expectation and the pressure had driven me to a writers’ block.

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