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Nitish Mukherjee

The author is a Board Member, Advisor, Coach & Mentor. The content of this article is his personal opinion

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Dark Roast Double Shot: Epiphany On The Mountainside

Sitting on the mountainside that morning I realised that those same rules have inarguable value for success in our everyday lives.

Photo Credit : Dilchaspiyaan/Shutterstock

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The air was crisp and cool, wisps of clouds wandered aimlessly on an azure sky, a soft breeze caressed the skin smoothening the furrows of everyday existence, the shrilling of a whistling thrush muted by the gurgling of a yet invisible mountain brook sounded like the inspiration for a Tchaikovsky symphony.

I walked to a well-rounded, wind and rain polished large stone, sat down, stretched my legs, opened the thermos and poured out a cupful of still steaming dark roast coffee brewed a good seven hours ago. On my right, spread out in the morning light was a landscape that was a poet’s paradise and on my left was the long winding road that had brought me up to 6000 feet above sea level in just over an hour. In a state of suspended animation with the mind in a state of complete rest yet invigorated with the stimulation of caffeine the neural pathways of cognition and imagination came together with an epiphany on that mountainside that was meaningful and revealing.

Driving in the mountains is an exhilarating experience. The views that unfold at every bend, the feeling that you are being tested every moment, the thrill of navigating those twists and turns smoothly and finally a high of leaving the world behind. But to do all this safely and successfully you need to be planned, cautious and alert akin to exactly what you should be doing in any important task or project in your personal or professional life. Driving in the mountains requires skill and expertise and the understanding that there are some cardinal rules that are inviolate. Sitting on the mountainside that morning I realised that those same rules have inarguable value for success in our everyday lives.

Check before you start

Anyone who has driven in the mountains knows that dealing with emergencies is unavoidable but the best way to circumnavigate trouble is to ensure that the vehicles brake and transmission fluids are filled, clutch plates checked, coolant topped up, wipers functional, fuel tank filled, battery charged, GPS working, tyres properly inflated and the spare in good shape. This ensures that you are ready to take on the challenges of a tough terrain and avoid nasty surprises. Similarly, making sure that every single element that comes in to play before undertaking any major project is of critical importance. Many a great idea has come to naught because some part of the plan did not deliver.

In most organisations while many people come together on a project the absence of singular responsibility to ensure orchestration often causes many a slip. In my many years I have seen one of the finest promotions of an alcohol beverage fail because the vendor supplying the bottles was not readied to service the increased demand. In another case for the launch of a new airline where the entire national press was there the full dossier of information was duly prepared but the docket was missing. The list can be endless. Checking before you move is a habit that is the hallmark of a true professional. It can markedly increase the chances of driving up to success.

Slow down before the bend

On the twisting mountain roads as you approach a bend you slow down the vehicle and then as you reach the apex point in the curve from where you can clearly see the road ahead you gently push the accelerator to speed up and move ahead. The reason behind this is because you need to be in complete control of the vehicle and avoid braking, as that can cause the car to skid. In any major reorganisation whether it is restructuring a company, managing a merger/acquisition or even making a change in the marketplace in terms of distribution structure, this understanding and insight can be of great help.

The ability of being in control, whenever you action any change, transition or transformation in behaviour or structures, is very important. Even in case you need to alter plans midstream it should be smooth. Stop-start can be a very painful and expensive process. Slowing down is not the same as losing steam. It means steady, effective action with full command. Reining in the power rather than letting it go. Making sure that the plan is implemented with continuity at a pace that will neither cause hiccups nor unsettle the organisation. For example, if you are reorganising manpower in an organisation you have a clear idea on what the new structure will be, the changes required to get there and the migration path. Success will depend on how you pace the plan. Too fast and you will run in to chaos. Too slow and you will be overcome with inertia.

Gear down when you move up

When you come to a steep incline you shift in to a lower gear to power up. You engage gears with a lower number of teeth and increase the revolutions per minute to transmit more power to counter the resistance. This helps you move smoothly up the gradient. And that is precisely what you should do when you come across rough weather in your business or personal life.

When you identify an adverse situation whether on the shop floor, marketplace or even relationships you need to identify the most appropriate resources or competencies required to overcome the setback and focus them on solving the issue. It is not about abundance of resources but a carefully curated set with full dedication. Then you are powered up to move ahead.

Transferring learnings from one sphere of life to another helps in expanding the sphere of extant knowledge. The more diverse the associations the higher the possibility of tangential thinking and innovation. Mindfulness of what we do and letting your mind work without silos can be a wonderful experience. Letting one’s mind wander on the mountainside is such an unmissable indulgence.

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(Nitish Mukherjee is a Board Member, Advisor, Coach & Mentor. The content of this article is his personal opinion.)