My Top 6 Lessons and They've Served Me Through Pretty Well!
1. Keep walking, no matter how steep the climb.
You can’t stop mid-way, you’ve got to keep moving up. There’s no way to turn back, besides downhill is way tougher on the knees! A little flag fluttering in the wind across the valley marks the highest point. Look out for that. That's your target. And really, it isn't that far. Once you get there and turn around, you will be amazed at how do-able it actually was!
No matter how impossible the task seems, you will get there eventually. Just. Believe. That.
2. When it’s a tough haul, take it a step at a time.
When the road seems long and unending, when my destination is this nebulous spot almost two valleys away, when the icy cold winds are piercing through my down jacket, and I am so exhausted that I can’t move another inch. I learnt this little trick and I use it often… I look down at my hiking boots and I make a deal with myself.
I’ll do 40 steps and then stop for a breather”. And then I put one boot in front of the other, and I start to count to 40. At 40, I look up, stare at the mountains, enjoy the icy cold wind on my face, then I look down again and I do another 40.
I’ve crossed valleys this way, literally taking it a step at a time.
3. No road is too long, if you have good friends for company
On my Kuari Pass trek, I reached a point where I felt I couldn’t move on. I hadn’t been drinking enough water, and my body was giving way, my spirits flagging. I stopped and sat down on the edge of the path.
My friend and trekking guru Pavane, came up from behind me...”what’s up?” she asked. “I can’t do this…I can’t” I cried, almost in tears. She looked at me with a stern face and said “shut up and move.”
No sympathy, no kind words…and it’s exactly what I needed at that time. If she had so much as put a hand on my shoulder and comforted me, I would have crumbled right there.
In life, take along these friends (and family and colleagues) with you, who will tell you to shut up, stop whining and move on. They're keepers.
4. Stop and smell the flowers dammit!
Enjoy the beauty around you, smell the flowers, even the horses that trek with us know the wisdom of those words! Gaze at the mountains, admire the reflection of the trees in the still waters.
Often, I’ve seen people so focused on getting to the next valley, on being the first to reach the camp, they forget to admire the amazing beauty that surrounds them. Guess what? There's no medal for reaching the camp first!
I had 14 - 16 hour work days for over two decades – and besides a fake Oscar statuette I never really got a prize for it:-). I have finally learnt to spend time with my family, watch a good movie, head out for treks, rafting expeditions, travel, see new places, grow my food.
5. Venture beyond your comfort zone
Here's a little secret I haven’t told many people. I hated trekking. I didn’t get the idea of walking all those miles – that seemed to lead nowhere. I loved the beach and the sea and for me that was the best holiday ever. Until I decided to venture beyond my comfort zone. I camped by a stream, amidst the amazing mountains. I made friends with a curious cow. Said hello to a mongrel puppy. Rafted a Grade 5 river.
I quit a high paying corporate life. And through it all, I learnt that there was a certain magic in the unknown!
6. Impossible is nothing
It was always just a great tag line. Until now. I've learnt that you can do anything you put your mind to. Anything. I led a trek to the Siachen Glacier - probably the only woman over 45 to set foot there. Definitely the only female trek leader on the glacier. I learnt to ski with my daughter - she was five, I was 50.
Impossible is nothing. And don't let anything or anyone tell you otherwise. Not your age, not your wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, fathers and mothers-in laws. And oh yes, not your doctors either! Certainly not the doctors!
Dilshad is an inspirational speaker and is invited by corporates and institutions to speaks on topics closest to her heart. Being a cancer survivor, her talks focus on doing what you always thought was "impossible" and turning that into "I'm possible" (with due credit to the great Audrey Hepburn!)