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19 Jun 2009

Muhammad & The Mountain

I listened to an interview today and heard the saying, "It's not the mountain ahead that wears me out but the pebble in my shoe". I found slightly varied versions of the latter half of the statement... some websites say 'grain of sand' instead of 'pebble' but I'll stick with the pebble. It's about how the challenge in front of us itself is not as great as the obstacles in our way. In other words, if we set about removing the obstacles one by one, we will eventually get to our destination without a fuss.

Another related saying - "It's not the destination that counts as much as the journey". The lessons are in the experiences surrounding a task than the end result.

My company has these Q&A sessions of the Big Guys aka leaders every now and then. It's intriguing to listen to what they have to say. As you go higher up the ladder, it's very obvious that the person has a very clear picture of his goals in mind. They always have atleast one punchline that has really stuck with them through their years of growing in the industry. Most of them are well read and articulate well. The list goes on but what I noticed here is the striking similarity of a number of features, that stand out in just a few minutes of conversation with them.

This is what most books on leadership cash in on. Then there's the odd extra-special feature or two each leader possesses... not one that works for all but can be tried by all. It's like shopping... not all dresses look good on you. You need to choose what suits you best, based on your physical structure and occasion.

I used to aspire to be somewhere up this ladder - the management stream, as some would call it. I believed I had it in me and I never heard anything differenly from the various people who appraised me. It took me one detour to experiment with another line of work to make me realize that whereas I had all the basic characteristics required for a good leader, I did not have the survival instinct and the third perspective was hard to come by. Most importantly, I did not have the inclination to deal with people, people and people day in and day out. Nothing that couldn't be taught or learnt or adapted but I found myself falling head over heels in love with technology. I've never looked back.

I stopped once for a checkpoint. It was like standing at crossroads. Here I remember another of my favourite poems in school - 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost. As expected, that is my next blog.

Well, I'll quickly end my blog by announcing that yes, I took the road less travelled by and have never regretted it once. It gets lonely at times but the few great men & women who have traversed this path are truly inspirational and their magnetism keeps me walking up towards the top of the mountain.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

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