Books

A better version of yourself

“If everybody did what they read, the world would be a much better place,” says executive coach Jaykumar Hariharan when talking of self-help books. That is why he chose not to write one. However, he wanted to write a book that would inspire people to be a better version of themselves and that is how his first book, Rewire came about. “I wrote it in the format of coaching,” says the affable Jaykumar, who has coached more than 100 business leaders across India, South East Asia, and the US. “Coaching is about making people think and enabling them to create insights in their own way. The book is a ‘what if?’ kind of book. It isn’t prescriptive and is full of stories.”

Having spent close to 20 years across various media brands, handling the business side of the enterprise, Jaykumar knows quite a bit about leadership. “I have worked a lot with CXOs. I have also done a ringside view of organisational culture, and it got me thinking that we already know of some truisms of being a leader. They are fairly lonely, filled with ideas and new ways of influencing their core team, and all the while they are running a battle with forces from the market. It could be pressure of time, delivery, competition, and so on. In the midst of all of this who do they turn to in order to understand what their inner model of leadership is? And how can they get better at leading the team? These questions led me write this book.”

Needful things

However, for someone who is already successful, what is the need for coaching on success? “Let me tell a story. I was facilitating a session with a friend of mine. We called a senior leader from the organisation to say a few words to the young aspirants. He said all these leadership development courses aren’t required, he said he didn’t have a coach, and yet he succeeded. My friend handled that gracefully, he said I am sure you are right, we all know how to breathe, so why do people go to pranayaam or vipassana ? They go to learn how to breathe better to live better. Coaching is like that. You can get by fine without a coach, but having a coach helps because these are the courses offered. I found that insightful.”

The idea for the book also came from his personal experiences. “I have worked in Japan, Singapore and the Middle East. There came a point when all my material goals were realised. What was missing was along the way I became a dysfunctional leader and adopted bad leadership strategies. I did get results but left behind a lot of disgruntled stakeholders. It was not a good feeling. I asked myself deeper questions: where was I headed? Is life just about making a living or should it be much more than that?”

Jaykumar went into an inner journey of self reflection. “For about six months I went into my own rabbit hole and asked myself if not this then what? It was the culmination of all these factors that said if I could light somebody else’s path would my path also get better?” Quitting a lucrative job to pursue the passion of being an executive coach was a difficult decision for him. “I had to summon forth a lot of courage. I thought ‘Am I bartering away my family’s future?’ What will people identify me as? I have always done things differently. I appreciate the newness.”

Adrenaline junkie

There is another side to Jaykumar’s personality. He is an adrenaline junkie and has done a fair bit of theatre. “Immediately after I quit my job, I got my deep sea diving license. I have been done 45 to 50 dives all over the world. Being on stage was empowering too. I learnt contemporary dance.” All of these experiences also informed the choices he made in his professional life. However, being an executive coach requires training. “Every corporate honcho who leaves his/her job does not automatically become a coach. You have to go through the process and get credentials. There is an international body, the International Coach Federation who are rigorous about their assessments.”

To the question of what makes a good leader Jaykumar replies: “You need to find the middle way. There is a balance of things that will make you centred. The point is where are you on the scale and where do you want to get better.”


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Printable version | Oct 3, 2022 12:35:05 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/books/a-better-version-of-yourself/article27762176.ece