A Teacher called Journey

A simple journey can teach you so many life lessons!

The tough terrain

It was rainy season in Pune, and the roads on the highway were very slippery and, in many places, one could see huge potholes. It seemed like a very tough terrain. The incessant rains had disrobed the upper layer of tar and exposed the tough stones, which the rubber had to kiss as the rains lashed at the windshield.
I was behind the wheel and had no other passengers for company. At the heel of my car, a huge truck seemed to look menacingly at my sedan and imply with a grin, “Move away – the big boy is coming!” I could neither make way nor speed away. I asked myself, could anyone else do what I am doing? The uncharted territory gave me the impetus.

My destination was Mumbai

I was headed to Mumbai, but the news headlines were proclaiming that the city was flooded and that gave me a warning. I spoke to a few friends in Mumbai and heard that a few areas were quite ok, while the others were in a tough spot. I had to make this journey, as the meeting could not wait for even a day, let alone waiting for the rains to subside. I had a professional engagement to act as an arbitrator, and the time was ripe to strike peace. If I did not make the journey to Mumbai that day, both the parties could be tutored by predators. The rains could not stop my decision, while the hope of peace was like a beacon of hope. The warring families’ dispute could not just bring peace, but it could keep the hopes of thousands of employees’ livelihoods alive.

The journey was not an easy one

I had to take a call – whether to return to Pune, or whether I should drive ahead to Mumbai. I had to encounter the incessant rains. I had already travelled quite a distance and could not turn back, neither could I halt. It was a situation like I was riding on a tiger, neither could I get down nor could I hold the tail of the tiger. I decided to call a friend of mine and discuss my predicament with him, but the best that he did was to motivate me and caution me. The other friend’s pessimism made me feel I was on the brink of hell, yet his feedback was important, but I had to take a call myself. I was in the driver’s seat, the terrain was below me, the sedan was my choice, and so it was up to me to navigate.

The stop

I had to get a reprieve from the lashing rain and had to show some mercy on the throttle. I needed to stretch my legs for a little while, and the Pune hot chai was so tempting and a blessing thanks to the chill born out of the downpour. The stop was useful; it did give some time to rest, think, contemplate and plan. I could chat with the lorry drivers and that helped; it gave me clarity that I had to plod on. In any case, turning back would not be easy either, as the water level was on the rise. I could not have stayed back as I would have lost both the destination and the origin. I was on a journey and I could not stop for long.

An entrepreneur is someone who keeps going in spite of the risk; he knows he is in the driving seat and will continue to move forward.

The progress and the meeting

I made progress on my journey with determination. The pit stop at the chai stall had renewed my energy and with that ammunition in my hands, I could conquer the drive in a much better manner. With caution, I treaded ahead and could reach Mumbai. The meeting went off well, my presence was most definitely required, the families found what they wanted, the employee union leaders left feeling happy and triumphant. It was not just the professional value, which I could generate for my enterprise but a lot of goodwill in the process too. The cheque sounded like music to my ears, but the goodwill was a full-blown symphony.

What I learnt

Now let us forget the rains, the sedan, the chai, my saga, the victory and smiles on the faces of the trade union leader. There were some lessons I learnt during this drive. Can you introspect on your enterprise or business? Have you faced these impediments? Do you engage in a debate with yourself on whether you were right or wrong? Do you wonder whether you could have been more right?

We have mentors, we have advisers, we have consultants, we have a team, but finally the leader in you has to bite the bullet, and you have to take the call.

There are many instances where we do business for the good of the eco-system, rather than just a transaction of money. Those build a symphony.

There are so many uncharted territories. An entrepreneur is someone who keeps going in spite of the risk; he knows he is in the driving seat and will continue to move forward. Taking risks is not just keeping your neck on the block, stopping, seeing the amber light, discussing, resting the soles of your feet and then throttling up. Uncharted territories can be conquered only if you enter there, and that requires breaking out of your comfort zone.

You are in the driving seat, you choose the sedan, you choose the terrain, you want to be a crusader. The decision is purely yours and you cannot blame anyone else. Having said that, the credit for the victory is not yours alone. The credit goes to the stakeholders, even the lorry driver as in my travel to Mumbai. That helps in masking one’s ego.

Stop to take a call (as I did at the tea shop!). Take a call with prudence and not just because of your ego. In business we have to take a call – ‘Should we continue or stop?’. It is not a failure to stop a business, to shut shop, to shut a region, to remove a product or possibly, to close the entire business. Let your prudence take the call; you can salvage what you can, instead of going ahead blindly and banging against the wall. You would not just harm yourself in the future, let down the banks, the stakeholders, the employees and the whole works. Have the courage to say, “Let’s stop.”

The throttle is ours; the world is ours. There is abundance, and with His grace, we will live in the music, but it will also go on to become a symphony.

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