Thinking of Professional Advancement in Life – head to the Himalayas!
The title of my blog might sound weird to some. However, that is exactly what I mean to say. I had recently been to the Valley of Flowers and Hemkundsahib in the Himalayas and what an enriching experience it was! Spending 10 days in the midst of the mighty Himalayas, being accompanied by the frolicking streams and rivers during most of the journey and experiencing the vagaries of nature was one of the best things I have ever experienced.
It so happened that on one of the days, I had just completed an arduous part of the trek – a 6 km strenuous walk in the Valley of Flowers and was back to the hotel room. I was then contemplating on why I was torturing myself so much. It was exactly then that a few points struck me – real hard. It dawned upon me that what I was going through, was actually one of the best lessons in life which I was receiving. I couldn’t but resist penning them down. I realise that these thoughts are nothing spectacular or out of the world, but for me, they were a ‘Eureka’ moment at that point of time. I hope you too find them useful.
Before I go into the details of what I experienced in the Himalayas, here is some information about the Valley of Flowers:
Here are some snaps which I captured on my mobile. Calling myself even an amateur photographer would be an over-statement (!) so I am pleasantly surprised that some of them have turned out pretty well!
a) The trek begins here
b) Just one of the many breath-taking views
c) In the Valley of Flowers – ain’t they gorgeous!
So, coming back to the topic, what did I learn from this Himalayan trek –
A) Event – On Day1 itself, we had to trek 10 km from Govindghat to Ghangria. It was mostly an uphill trek in which we gained more than 4000 feet altitude in a single day. Oxygen tends to become rare as we gain height and several avid trekkers are known to suffer from high-altitude sickness problems. As a result, covering even a few km is not an easy task. Though the surrounding nature provided us great relief and made the trek lively, it was not easy to keep the mind-games away.
After a few km, my wife and I were about to give up and resort to completing the rest of the journey on horseback. However, I happened to reminisce one of the tough times we had on one of a Big Data projects we undertook with a tough client, earlier. On one of the several bad days, our CEO Kuldeep Deshpande had casually said – let’s not think too far; let’s tackle one day at a time, instead.
This thought struck me and my wife and I decided to adopt a similar approach. We decided to not think of how much distance was left but focus on taking one small step at a time. Say what! It helped us big time. We constantly reminded ourselves that every step we took was bringing us closer to our destination and we were making progress. That worked like magic! We soon forgot about how much distance was left, how much steep the climb was and gradually made slow but steady progress. We also had a good lunch halt along the way and reached our destination by evening. Our legs and every other limb was aching but what a sense of accomplishment we felt then!
What I learnt – When the going is tough and the goal appears too far and almost impossible, think of only one step at a time. Aim for steady rather than quick progress!
B) Event – The trek was organised by Yuvashakti, an avid trekking group based in Pune. We were a group of 22 people, across all age groups – right from 22 years to 55 years. Initially, we were sceptical about the dynamics within this diverse group but our concerns soon proved to be irrelevant. Every member of the group mixed well, shared ideas, cracked jokes and also supported the others well.
The younger members of the group were the most enthusiastic and quick and were the first ones to reach the destination every day. A few of us were laggards and formed the tail-end almost every time. However, the leading members never failed to cheer the others. They waited at regular intervals and encouraged us to move on and complete the required distance. When a difficult milestone was covered, they also clapped when the last person made it. This small action gave a boost to the others, created a good team bonding and made sure that the group as a whole was successful, every single day of the trek. On the other hand, we, the more experienced of the lot, shared our experiences with the youngsters and thereby added to their awareness. In short, it was a win-win for all.
What I learnt – Rather than restricting yourself to being a part of a homogenous and known group, choose to be part of a diverse group whenever possible. Members of such a group complement each other well and allow members to derive inspiration from one another. A lot of knowledge sharing happens and it benefits everyone!
C) Event – The overall trip was for 10 days. It was but natural for the group members to spend a long time together. We had discussions of various kinds – right from our personal lives, likes, dislikes, and hobbies, to our professional careers. What emerged was something very interesting. I realised that even within a small group of 22, I was able to build a new network of people who could support me in many ways and vice versa.
There was a Professor who taught Mechanical Engineering in a reputed college in Pune. We conversed about how Ellicium could consider doing recruitment at his college – a win-win situation for both. His wife is an Officer in the Customs department and knowledgeable about GST (Goods and Services Tax) which has recently been introduced. We conversed on how she could help the Ellicium Accounts team with their GST related queries. Two brothers around 25 years of age were running a support institute for children from Kashmir. My wife has volunteered to help them during her free time. I discussed opportunities in Big Data and Data Science with two of the group members. They will be sharing their profiles shortly. What a different kind of recruitment drive it was! All of this was achieved in a short span of 10 days without any meticulous planning!
What I learnt – Treks and outings might seem to be totally unrelated to the corporate world. However, they help you build your network in the most unexpected ways. Moreover, these contacts remain for life as the bonding is not based on professional work but on the memories, you had together.
D) Event – In a funny turn of events and during the trek preparatory meet, I realised that two of my Ellicium team-mates, Ashish and Anup, were also a part of this trek. We spend a lot of time together in office. However, I wasn’t really sure what to expect as a part of this totally non-office-related trekking activity.
In the 10 days, we had great fun together and captured several memories in the form of dinners, team events and photos. However, the most positive part was getting to know about some of the unique traits of my team-mates which I was totally unaware of.
e.g. I knew Ashish was sincere and passionate about work. However, I also got to know of his great physical endurance. He was always amongst the first few to speedily complete the trek and never seemed to run out of energy. Even on the last day, he wasn’t tired at all. Anup too was very enthusiastic all throughout the trek. On several occasions, he assisted the other members of the group and demonstrated wonderful team spirit.
What I learnt – Quite a few unique traits and skills of individuals are only revealed in an informal setting. Planning team activities is a fantastic way of knowing your team better. This indirectly helps team bonding as well.
E) Event – Life before this trek to the Himalayas was getting a bit monotonous and stressful. However, I wasn’t even aware of it as there was hardly any time to stop and think. Coming back from the trek, I find myself refreshed and more energetic. I am now able to view things from a slightly different perspective and this is helping a lot. In a way, I have reset my mind, my body and my life.
What I learnt – In this busy world, we take care of our houses, cars and our bodies very well. We routinely undertake cleansing activities for them. However, we don’t follow the same for mental hygiene. Just as you reboot your laptops/desktops occasionally, it is essential to reboot your mind once in a while. This helps us get rid of our “mental obesity” and allows it to function better. Spending time in Nature is the best way of doing it. What better can you aspire for, than going to the Himalayas on a trek?
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