I remember around a year ago when my grandma fell during mother’s day and broke her hip and was placed in physical therapy. Prior to that, I really did not know why physical therapy was so significant. I didn’t understand why so many people studied it in college. That was, until I saw a physical therapist interact with my grandma. As one would be after a great fall, she was scared to walk on her own, even though walking was a necessary immediate step towards recovery. The physical therapist walked over and helped my grandma up with incredible confidence. It was inspiring, how she was able to inspire my grandma to rise above the pain, fear, and reluctance towards something necessary. The confidence the physical therapist displayed showed great leadership.

I wonder if she ever took wilderness first aid?

These past couple days have been challenging for me because I have never done anything dealing with first aid. I barely even remember 9th grade biology. Going up to someone injured, confidently and compassionately assuring them that you have the competence to help them, and then actually helping them, is a big challenge. Sometimes I felt like I was not coming off confidently enough and other times I felt like I was coming off to aggressively. Eventually I got the hang of it, and realized that confidence is a key ingredient of leadership theory and implementation.

Confidence was key in wilderness first aid for two reasons. First, I believe that acting confident in your decision making actually does make you a more confident person. Sometimes you have to fake it ’til you make it. It is also important for the patient to feel comfortable with you as a caregiver. If someone’s life is in question, no matter the actual competence of the caregiver, it would definitely help the patient relax if they believe in the caregiver and their abilities. By displaying confidence, the patient is reassured and can relax a little bit in a very stressful situation. All of this transfers directly to leadership, for example, in a business. If the leader is displaying confidence, then the other workers may feel more secure in their actions and produce better results. This can even have a snowball effect and build up the leader’s confidence after seeing positive results. Confidence is a crucial part of wilderness first aid as well as leadership in general.

However, confidence can be problematic when applied cultural or ethical norms other than your own. I have found this with the food at the Hanifl Center. I came into India looking forward to confidently trying new foods, so I made sure to load my plate with everything at the Hanifl Center cafeteria. This, unfortunately, led to more food waste than I would have liked, so I felt especially bad when we were notified that, as a group, we had too much food waste. In the USA, food is ample and big plates are encouraged. Here, however, the stress is more on eating what you know you want to eat and then maybe getting seconds if you so desire. My confidence in trying new foods led to a poor result, as I did not consider the ethical implications of my actions. To get around this, I have taken smaller servings of new foods and tried to figure out what unfamiliar foods are before placing them on my plate. This has led to less food waste and belly just as satisfied.

I guess a key way to increase confidence is to expand one’s comfort zone. That is definitely one of the reasons I decided to come on a trip where backpacking, which I have never done, is the focus. I did not expect wilderness first aid to be so significant for leadership, and I look forward to learning more about confidence and other factors of leadership during my time in India.