Theatre and Mountaineering are high-risk, high-pressure activities. I have experienced both. As far as theatre is concerned, 2018 will be the 50th anniversary of my first full-fledged play as an actor. As for mountaineering, I did a course in Mountaineering at the High-Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) as an army officer and then spent 3 years on the Himalayan pickets on the Sikkim-China border.
Theatre: It has been medically proved that an actor on stage experiences the physical symptoms of an accident victim. Even so, the actors say it is ‘fun and relaxation’. Moreover, even when a play has proved to be successful over several shows, the group tries to change something or the other to keep the uncertainty and pressure on. This prevents the group from becoming complacent and makes them more alert, vulnerable, and interdependent, and helps them to discover new and exciting possibilities that had not been envisaged before.
Mountaineering: Mountaineering under life-threatening conditions is ‘fun’ for mountaineers, and they are always looking for a higher and tougher mountain to climb. The higher the mountain, the greater the celebration.
Creating the Environment: This ability to enjoy change does not come about by changing or transforming people. That would be a very complex, long drawn, and unpredictable task. In a corporate environment, any professional is bound to have ego, self-interest, and ambition. This is healthy. The challenge is to align (and NOT drop) these egos, self-interest, and ambition to common goals and collective success. This alignment happens when we create a conducive environment where people are willing to drop their defensiveness, and personality ‘prisons’.
Within the personality ‘prison’, we experience ourselves as ‘products’. We then accept labels like ‘introvert’, ‘extrovert’, ‘leader’, ‘follower’, ‘passive’, ‘assertive’, and so on. We carry these stickers with us and find it appropriate to live and react accordingly. Once we drop these personality ‘prisons’, we experience ourselves as ‘processes’. Processes cannot be labelled. Simply because I could have felt introverted yesterday, and can feel extroverted today. In this group I may experience myself as a follower, in another group, I may prefer to see myself as a leader. This ‘process-awareness’ is essential to understanding, managing, and enjoying change.
“You cannot step in the same river twice”. . . Zen wisdom. Enjoying change requires that we tap our innate ability to see the newness of the river moment to moment – the sound, the change in the flow, the colour of the water, the objects floating by, the reflection of the clouds . . . .”