It has now been two weeks since my time in India but life has seemingly gotten more busy not less since my return. Moving to New York City, starting a new job, and spending a week in Virginia for work has made digestion of all the events in the past month difficult to say the least. The experience was very positive and I just feel grateful about the whole thing. Leaving the country for the first time (besides Canada) with a group of strangers and completing an intense outdoor trek has built up my self confidence immensely. Each moment in India was filled with new experiences and sights which I was forced to react to. This exercise forced me to develop methods to handle new experiences. Now, being in a new city, meeting new people, and learning new processes constantly at work I am given a chance to apply the methods I used in India. But the specifics of these methods are not important and indeed they are constantly changing. What is important is that I was able to build the confidence to operate and more importantly fail in new environments. Failure is an area which I struggle with and often develop a reality distortion field around to spare my feelings. Indeed, before departing on the trek, my friend Chris asked our entire group to share their greatest fear. My fear was failure. But an essential part of experiential learning is failure. Failure itself is not enough however. I also learned that self awareness is key to exit a cycle of failure and permit our experience to compound. Throughout the trek we operated in trekking groups of three individuals and gave self evaluations for our own groups. Our group was very self aware and had consensus that we were often tardy in the mornings when the group was attempting to set off on hikes. Instead of pointing blame at each other, we collaborated to brainstorm systems which would allow us to remedy our findings. Thomas had some helpful insights into our morning timeline which we attempted the next morning to meet our deadlines. Collaborating and finding optimizations or solutions to problems is exactly how I would describe software engineering at an enterprise level. In my work this summer at Capital One, I am forced to collaborate with engineers daily and have the self awareness of when to share my ideas with the group or use my strengths to compliment others. This mindset at work has allowed me to work on optimizations for systems which save the company hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in compute costs. Another example of learning from failure through self awareness was the day which I was designated as a group leader. Leaders have way more visibility and now I sympathize with them greatly through understanding the pressure they operate under. I was leading the hike and quickly got feedback from the group that I was setting an unsustainable pace. Not everyone hikes at the same pace which was often a point of contention during our trek. My enjoyment comes from pushing physical limits and testing how much distance we can possibly cover. This is selfish though in a group with goals which differ from mine. Realistically, we can only move as fast as the slowest member of our trek group. So, I simply learned from my failed pace setting and progressively shortened the pace until it was tolerable for everyone. In addition, I was always ready to volunteer my pack to take the extra weight of others in the hopes this would allow us to reach my goal of covering as much distance as possible 🙌🏔✌️.
Lastly, I just want to thank everyone who was involved to create this truly special adventure. Everyone at the Haniful center, Vipul, G, Akshay, the cooks, Rohan, and anyone else. They gave us an amazing educational experience and provided me with excellent feedback on my leadership capabilities. Then I want to thank all the students who were crazy enough to take on this challenge 🤪. I forged some really meaningful friendships on this trek and hope they last into the future. Can’t wait to have a reunion with everyone and hear about what they have been doing. And of course I need to thank Bryan Shultz for having the vision to do a leadership course in the Himalayas and all the countless hours of logistics required. Not all who wander are lost!