Ashish Vidyarthi is a National Award winning actor and has been trained in acting at the National School of Drama (NSD). Over the last twenty two years, he has worked in more than two hundred films across eleven languages.
Vidyarthi founded Avid Miner, a platform for engaging in unique conversations with people and organizations — conversations that are born out of real life experiences and interactions.
The following interview excerpt reflects Ashish’s learnings that he derived from his experiences, and how these help professionals in their quest for self-fulfillment.
Q: You have been an actor for the last 24 years and now you are doing something that is totally different. Looking back at your career, what were the instances that led you to establish Avid Miner, and to start these leadership conversations?
A: From my life experiences, I have concluded that people usually have well-defined perceptions about each other; and if they find somebody doing something that deviates from that perception, they wonder why that person is doing it! It’s amazing if one can have a life of ‘And’. It allows you to explore other prospects and look at yourself in a different light.
It’s exciting for me that I can do many things, and always be at the lowest end of my learning curve each morning.
One fine day, I started chatting with the gentleman sitting next to me on a late night flight. As our conversation went on through the course of the flight of knowing each other and discussing about life in general; he suddenly turned to me and asked: “Why don’t you have such conversations with organizations?” That is what triggered the idea of having Avid Miner sessions. This idea became successful when executed, because I didn’t restrict myself with my thinking. I did not limit myself to what ‘I’ thought was possible for me. It is fulfilling to see oneself having many aspects, rather than that singular aspect one would relate to and confine to. There is so much we can contribute, if we can just break some of the myths we have about our own selves.
Q: How has your acting career contributed and helped you in your new avatar?
A: An actor is working in an ever-changing atmosphere. No two days are the same, no two scripts are the same, no two scenes are the same; and yet we are asked to deliver the finest scene every time. I think that over the years, every director that I have had the chance to work with has contributed to my work in some way or the other. When I am on the sets, I listen to whoever is around me, be it the cameraman or assistant director; they all have something to add to my character. Magic happens when people learn from people and things around them — their colleagues, families, and the environment. So yes, my acting career has significantly contributed to making the new me.
Q: On one hand, you say that many people contributed towards making the new you; on the other hand, you mention that it is also about being who you are, and identifying what makes you unique. How does one integrate these two thoughts?
A: It is very important for a human being to listen to his ‘own’ self. Listen to what you want. What is it that brings a smile to your face, and makes you get up with a spring each morning? Likewise, it is equally important to look for opportunities. Look for different possibilities and opportunities to express yourself. The world is never saying: “become like me”. Instead, the world is saying: “express yourself with me”. Cross-pollination is a continuous process; a mentor for one thing can become a mentee for another.
We have to show the willingness to lead as well as to learn, in different situations and at different stages in life.
Q: What is the one common thread that you see in all your Avid Miner conversations?
A: One of the key points that I understand from my interactions with leaders, is that they realize they are not infallible. Trying something and failing at it is alright, as long as it gives them a chance to step out of their comfort zone. If you’re a person who’s out on the court, you shouldn’t be concerned about the spectators. Even if you fail and they laugh, it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do or did in your journey.