I learned countless lessons on the trek through the Himalayas. I learned many personal lessons I have been struggling with and about my own personal leadership philosophy. For me, this was the perfect time to do this trip. I am thankful to be a part of this transformational experience. I believe the best part is that I will learn the most about this experience years down the line through my reflection as my expertise grows. I learned that I enjoy the outdoors far more than I thought I would, and I have many hidden talents when faced with pressure. I did not crack or fold under pressure and seemed to do better under these conditions. I knew that I would be able to perform in the rain, hail, and snow better than in times of comfort.
In the trek, I learned that in order to become a leader, I must practice servant leadership and help in any way I can. Sometimes a dominant leader can come off as controlling and decrease group morale, but catering your actions to the betterment of the group will always be important. Even when not recognized for certain actions, if one can make the lives of others easier in the group, then it is the best course of action. I was able to see firsthand how my actions benefited my peers and my outdoor living skills, and I would not have it any other way.
There are still many things I can do to improve as a leader, as leadership is an art that requires continued practice and more experience. In the front country, I can focus more on integrating humor into times when the group is not working. Giving my colleagues more of a chance to know me outside of the work setting may help establish more trust and credibility for me as a leader. I did get better at this as the trek continued, but there is room for improvement. Another thing I can do as a leader is increase my competency. During my individual conversations with Gaurav (G) mentioned that a key piece to leadership is the ability to motivate others, and a great way to do that is to increase one’s competency. This is very similar to the books we read regarding “strength-based leadership,” and G helped me put those teachings into practice. As I enjoy learning new skills, G’s point is crucial to my leadership success. Lastly, I can improve my patience. I tried to work on this through meditation, time alone, and deep reflection, and I believe I was successful during the trek. While, in my opinion, this was easy in the backcountry as I had breathtaking mountains to look at, this may be harder in the front country. I hope to transfer my meditation practices to the U.S. and improve at taking more time to think and reflect. Through deep thought and reflection, I was a better leader in the backcountry. Overall, I am beyond grateful I was able to participate in this program as I am a better leader and a stronger person.
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