When driving to JFK, I was not looking forward to a 16-hour flight and then a 7-hour bus ride. Though I have to say, things went unbelievably smoothly. Our flight was cut to 14 hours, and our group could stay engaged during the bus ride with fun games. Experiences like this allow me to look forward to our continued group and individual development. After settling in, the Hanifil staff understood our “jet lag” but were eager to get us moving. For me, this was the perfect time to try my new binoculars and look at the Himalayas’ snow-tops. This was truly something special, and it ensured that I made the right decision to pick this program. Upon hearing similar sentiments from our guides, I was happy they felt the same.
What cultural norm(s) of the host country do you anticipate being a challenge to learning about leadership? Why?
A challenge I anticipate in India is the lack of focus on autonomy. Our readings discussed India as focused on relationships and responsibility rather than the individual self. In America, our culture is very focused on individuality and self-leadership. This particular aspect of leadership appeals to me, as you can only expect to lead others with a deep understanding of yourself, your capabilities, and your strengths. While developing my leadership style over the next month, I plan to mix my focus between self-leadership and group responsibility. I especially look forward to seeing how this develops over the backpacking trip. While not related to backpacking, the lack of personal space could also be challenging for me. Sometimes, I need to relax and go to a nice place alone to focus; if we were not backpacking, this could be an issue for me in broader India.
Are leaders born or made? Why?
I believe that leaders are nurtured, not born. Leadership is an art; like all, art requires practice, reflection, and experience. Those who were given leadership opportunities at a young age or in their family may be considered “born leaders,” but in actuality, they were conditioned into their leadership abilities. Personally, I believe this helped my leadership abilities as I have been traveling for a long time and have been able to adjust to new environments well. In leadership situations, adapting to complex environments is the job.
What do you think is the hardest part about being a good leader?
The hardest part about being a leader for me is self-reflection. At times, I am very focused on what is happening with the group and neglect what I am doing. As a leader, ensuring the well-being of others should always be the top priority, but keeping yourself in check should be as well. This is something I hope to improve upon during our various hikes and stepping in when I am needed. Through the multiple roles that we will have, this is an attainable goal for me, and I look forward to sharing my progress in the upcoming blog posts.