I was in the large office of a Dean who was interviewing me before hiring for training. I am now a freelancing coach.
“How good are you?”
“Sir, if I had mentored myself 30y ears back, I would have been a different person.”
The joke fell flat.
Before that I had told another reverend that I make a good motivational coach because I was a failure in life. I should have observed his expression , but instead continued that most of the cricket and tennis coaches were seldom good players themselves. The Dean looked glumly at me. I knew a little late that I had killed my chance. I promised myself never to ‘manufacture’ humour.
Academics and humour never go together.
But not all humour is contrived. There was a not so young couple which had the fancy idea of tutoring their children. I am unsure what brought them to me.
“ We want to teach our children about the facts of life”. The father said lowering his voice. It took me a while to understand that they meant sex education. But sex education is not my forte.
“Sir, what is the age of your sons?”
“14 and 12”
I looked at them once again. The kids were not exactly innocent. They were decent and achingly old fashioned. I knew that they would only embarrass themselves if they tried. The kids are capable of doing that.
I diplomatically suggested that why don’t they leave these things to experts. The father was livid. He couldn’t allow strangers to talk about ‘these things’ to his sons. Somehow I liked them and wanted to help. I tried the common sense approach.
“Sir. Can you utter ‘sex’ loudly once?”
The father’s eyes almost popped out of his socket while the mother stared blankly at the floor. I knew that it was good bye to sex education. Their sons would get their education from the more tried and trusted internet and pirated editions of Playboy from enterprising friends.
Welcome to my new world of Personality Development coaching which is not all fun. There are obstacles under every desk and chair of each student. When they combine together they can be alarming.
The challenge in addressing a large auditorium of boisterous students is in keeping them hooked. For that I generously take the help of Bollywood and popular English and Hindi comedies.
The real satisfaction comes when the same auditorium listens with pin drop silence. I feel like a winning matador.
Funnily, I was ragged more by school students.
One reason may be because the college students are more mature and are aware of their impending career. The school boys have no such worries.
A young student once asked me why do I wear a tie? Does the tie serve any purpose? His professor was annoyed and looked back to see who had asked this question. I agreed wholeheartedly with him and compared men with peacocks. The tie and the plumage serve the same purpose. I know it was a lame joke but it served the purpose. The group broke into a nervous laughter. Some lighthearted banter followed and we were back on track.
The trick lies in not losing either your sense of humour or your temper.
When the topic for the Faculty Development Program of Amity University was given to me I wasn’t sure. Would an august gathering of hard-boiled, tough and cynical professors appreciate someone pontificating about ‘How to set goals and motivate oneself’? But surprisingly it was a memorable experience. They were not only keen, but interacted passionately. It proved only one thing to me.
“Young or old, content is the king.”
As long as you are able to provide good content, anyone from 16 to 60 would listen silently.
But a serious question often tossed is that do these lectures help? An equally serious answer is, Yes they do. The men and women who come to deliver lectures are experienced. They bring with them years and years of wisdom. So you get the essence of their life time in a few hours. It then is up to you how you use it. You can, however, do them a favour.
Most of them ask for a review ( at least I do!) it helps if an honest assessment is given without sounding rude.
Finally one’s personality development is one’s personal business. No two people are alike. So there will always be diverse views.
As far as I am concerned, I enjoy this new occupation. I don’t mind being heckled or ribbed as long as it is lively. But the day it becomes boring I shall quit.
Just the way I walked out of my corporate life.