Monkeying Around

The first full day of activities for the Leadership in the Himalayas program, we took a hike on a nearby nature reserve. The mountain air was refreshing to the lungs as the surrounding views of the landscape stole that breath right away. This hike included time for us to find a quiet space and meditate on what brought us to this experience in the first place. In the past, I have received feedback from professors and in the workplace that I need to take more initiative sharing my ideas in group settings. So, for this experience, a main goal is to continue to seek out opportunities to jump in and speak my mind in group settings in a way that forces me out of my comfort zone. 

Reflecting on my takeaways from the leadership building exercises, I identify learning adaptability as another personal goal. All of the leadership games here at the Haniful Center forces us to exercise quick decision making with less than perfect information. For example, the first activity was set up with our group standing in a circle and linking our hands as we faced outward. We were then asked to invert the circle so that each team member was facing inward but without breaking the links in our hands. I immediately formulated a strategy in my mind and attempted to plead my case to the rest of the group. After some time the group keyed in on an elegant strategy where two people held their hands up high and the rest of the group moved through the arch created to flip the circle. I never would have found this strategy in a million years because I was so fixated on the one idea I initially gravitated towards. This experience made me understand the necessity of being flexible and notice areas in my own leadership style lacking in this regard. I aim to avoid getting stuck spinning my wheels in the future. 

For both the leadership sessions and the wilderness advanced first aid course, we have three practitioners, Shantanu, Vipul, and G. Of the three, G speaks the least but during one of the first leadership reflections we first had, he made a powerful observation which shifted my perspective of leadership. He stated that we might cover ten leadership insights, but only one or two will resonate with us and that is where the value of studying leadership will come from. Before, I was attempting to jungle anything and everything in my mind which resulted in nothing sticking. Now, as we continue this experiential learning process, I hope to key in on the few points which will resonate with me throughout my life. 

I want to end all my blog posts by recounting a side quest that myself or some of the other students here embarked on (yes it’s not all just classroom work 🤓). Exercise has been something in my regular routine which I miss during my time abroad. However, me, Thomas and Anita have been waking up early before our day of scheduled programming starts to run in the nearby town of Landour. Running at 7300ft takes some getting used to when it comes to catching my breath. But even more out of the ordinary are the monkeys who act as spectators to our race around the mountain. Not to mention the wild dogs which joined our pack and ran along behind and in front of us. This was a super fun side quest, and shoutout to Thomas and Anita for experiencing it with me. Hopefully my next side quest will include a pet monkey 🙊.