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Thespian Ashish Vidyarthi on his lesser-known leadership coach persona

Life is to do with the continuous re-evaluation of yourself and staying relevant. My program is based on steps by which you can alter the fixed mindset that you have. I love to connect people’s present with the future that they aspire for.

IANS | NEW DELHI |

Predominantly seen playing antagonist characters in Bollywood and regional Indian films, ‘Aligarh’ and ‘Haider’ actor and a National Film Award recipient Ashish Vidyarthi has another side to him — that of a leadership coach and motivational speaker.

Vidyarthi is also a former National School of Drama (NSD) student. Mentioning a huge impact on his decades-long acting career, the vernacular veteran reveals a persona completely different from that of an on-screen villain. Excerpts from an IANSlife interview:

Q: How did you discover and bring out the leadership coach in you?

A: Discovering the leadership coach in me was something that happened when I decided to take charge of my life. I discovered that if I’m going to be another person under the effect of what life is doing to me, I would rather be ‘causing’ something. It begins with the question that whether you want to lead your life or do you want to be led by what life is asking and forcing you to do. I wanted to take control of my life, and be driving my life. When I saw the benefits of that, I saw it added value to me. So I started sharing the fruits of it. It’s about what that leader’s life is and the ability to translate that into your profession and life, that’s how it’s turning out.

Q: How does it help the actor in you, if at all?

A: As far as its impact on acting, it’s huge. Remember, it is that same human being who’s a leadership coach, or acting, or going out and eating. Even as an actor, the choices I’m making in my career, I can myself being at the source of it, not saying ‘I have to do it, but rather I choose to do it’. You are owning it. I see myself asking for things that otherwise I wouldn’t have asked for while second-guessing myself. It is taking charge of your life in every area. In some areas where aren’t so good at it, you keep working on it. Being involved in the leadership space, you set up a yardstick for yourself saying that ‘This is what I’m committed to’ and if you’re lucky, you’d find yourself slightly short of that yardstick, and that’ll be an invite for you to grow higher, taller, vaster.

Q: What are some valuable life lessons that the pandemic has taught you?

A: The pandemic has taught many lessons, one of the important one is that life cannot be taken for granted. On a daily basis, you must be grateful to be alive, to be agile and manoeuvre through life. I’ve always felt that life is to be negotiated through, life is not a fixed set of situations. This pandemic has only fast-forwarded it for all of us, it has allowed us to see changes that otherwise we would have seen in decades. It has made me even more alive and believing in the fact that each one of us might not see the tomorrow. We slept last night, woken up with a completely new morning with new challenges, and just past those challenges are extraordinary opportunities.

In this context of rapid change, one can either go into a shell or into creation mode. So, rather than scoot or run away, I’ve seen this pandemic as inviting me to create. The pandemic has allowed me to puncture more holes into my tube of creativity, as I’m pressed by the pandemic, more possibilities are coming out of various outlets. As long as we puncture holes into our fixed notion about ourselves, we’d discover new expressions of life. This is what the pandemic has taught me.

Q: Tell us about your association with the upcoming Super Growth Summit and what will you share?

A: The Super Growth Summit by Success Gyan is an opportunity, as the word itself talks, of super growth. In life, we say take small steps and hold back our aspirations and big dreams. The Summit is an opportunity for people to dare to dream big and go about fulfilling it. I’m excited about what I’m going to offer. This is a fast-changing world, and each one has an expertise that we are good or average at. That’s just what we identify ourselves with. But that profession itself probably is so changed now that your specific role may be defunct, or technology has taken over. If people have trained themselves or qualified for once, it doesn’t ensure you’re qualified forever. Life is to do with the continuous re-evaluation of yourself and staying relevant. My program is based on steps by which you can alter the fixed mindset that you have. I love to connect people’s present with the future that they aspire for.