Last year, at an orchard in Himachal Pradesh, when Sunil Sapra found himself discovering different kinds of apples with his daughter, the 39-year-old country manager of IT firm Astaro Corporation realised he’d reclaimed a slice of his life.
Sapra credits it to the year he spent undergoing personalised coaching.
On the wrong side of 35, Sapra was approaching a mid-life crisis. “Guys in my peer group are well-off, have reached a certain seniority in our careers and are ready for new challenges. My children were young and the parents getting old. I wanted to strike the right work-life balance,” he says.
Bangalore-based life coach Akash Chander, 39, helped him achieve that.
They began with a discovery session where the coach gauged Sapra’s personality, background and goals. “We continued talking over the phone every fortnight, drawing up action plans.”
Through a mix of time management, prioritisation and psychometric tools, Chander helped Sapra find more time for his family and afford to get giddy-headed at Disneyland with his kids.
Sapra is not alone. Personal coaches such as Chander get around four clients a month, on an average, he says. Chander himself claims to have spent 400 hours coaching clients last year, mostly from the corporate sector.
As the concept of the mind being as important as the body catches on, a growing number of people are turning to personal coaches and therapists to sort out their lives and work out their priorities.
Many of them are wary of sharing the demons within their minds. A few coaches Hindustan Times spoke to cited the confidentiality clause to protect their clients.
Gurgaon-based life skills trainer Yadhav Mehra, 44, who works with consultancies such as Ernst and Young, says the line between therapist and coach often gets blurred.
“We can help clients sort out the clutter in their minds. Beyond that, we may have to refer them to a therapist or psychiatrist, who have better medical credentials.”
Mehra recalls a case where a telecom engineer was de-motivated because he wasn’t being promoted. “He was brilliant at his work, but couldn’t make professional chit chat. Probing further, I discovered his father had told him to avoid ‘useless talk’ as a child. This needed an altogether different kind of intervention.”
The need for a life coach is not limited to business executives alone. Anybody who faces insecurity in life can feel the urge to confide in a professional outside family. Without revealing names, celebrity shrink Harish Shetty says three Mumbai-based high-profile clients from the world of politics, IT and media recently approached him to “help enhance their emotional hygiene, competency at work and personal relationships.”
Clients are ready to shell out as much as Rs 2-5 lakh a month to get their catharsis on a celebrity psychiatrist’s couch, claims Shetty.
“Conventional solutions don’t always work. For example, my mother can’t decide my diet if I’m training for the Olympics,” says Chander.
As they say, the coach knows best.