I went to a talk organized by LEPRA Society, an NGO in the area of facilitating healthcare to the leprosy, HIV, Malaria affected. Radhika Rajamani invited me over and told me that the talk was by Sir Chris Bonington. Sir Chris had scaled the Everest once, led many mountaineering expeditions to the Everest and other peaks across the world. I went to ASCI at the appointed time, 530 in the evening with Shobha. Ramaraju was already there in a hall packed to capacity. The talk was just about to begin.
Sir Chris Bonington is now 75 years old. He looks very fit, walks easily and has a serene air about him. An air of someone who has seen enough of life. Of someone who know several secrets. His talk 'Stay Active, Stay Young' lasted about an hour. He led us through a slide show of his many expeditions, his colleagues, peaks, ranges, his family, his home, the University of Lancaster of which he was Chancellor. As he recounted his experiences with an easy flow he casually dropped a few wonderful thoughts that I tried to make a mental note of.
Sympathize With The Mountains
'To be a good climber one must be one with the mountains...must sympathize with the mountains'. So true of anything. I wish all these people who FIGHT terror, FIGHT illiteracy, FIGHT HIV/leprosy also understand these words and become more sympathetic.
'One must leave it as it has been, leave as few traces as you can and respect the mountain ranges for what they are...One must respect the environment one is in'.
'Leadership is not about achieving everything yourself...it is about facilitating the achievement of the goal by the team...'
On Leadership and Democracy
'A good leader is aware of the consensus of the team... he does not impose his thought on the team...I believed in leading by democracy.'
'It is not about the Everest or a smaller peak...the satisfaction at having achieved what you set out to achieve is the same...'
Know When to Give Up
'A good climber knows when to turn back...you cannot be obsessed with climbing the peak that you lose your life. You can always come back later.'
Motto While Climbing
'It was important for me to be alive...'
How To Stay Active
'One must have a passion in life...whatever it is...and then one can choose the level of competency one wants to achieve and work at that...but it is absolutely necessary that one has a passion for something.'
'Fear is a warning that you have to be careful...never go on a mountaineering expedition with someone who has no fear...he will get you killed.'
On Team Bonding
'I believe that a walk in the woods is a better for team bonding than sitting in the office...try it.'
And so many more. Sir Chris Bonington, CBE, thank you!