The sun set that evening, only to give rise to a majestic full moon shining over the sprawling lawns of a fellow EO members farmhouse. 50-odd EO families gathered together with growing anxiety and fear. My kids had mice running in their stomach as soon as they were invited to light the log fire. Each of us were asked to make a wish. Suveer, my 11Yo son, wished that no one should get burnt or cut. Such a simple yet impacting wish, and a far cry from some of the other material wishes I hear. Well done son !
Anshana and Ruheen (my 8YO) daughter had declared to me earlier that there would only be a 50:50 chance that they would walk on fire that evening, By now I could see that slowly progress towards a sure-shot ‘NO WAY’.
EO resource, Helen Lui, broke us into forums to discuss our individual intentions to do the walk. By this time the fire was burning fiercely, almost like a Pyre under the glow of the moon. We discussed one aspect that each of us wanted to leave behind and focused on a future goal that was dear to us. Some joked that this was Agni Pariksha, a test to separate the pure EO’s from the un-pure ones.
Armed with these thoughts and only High-Tea to keep our courage levels high, the group proceeded for its first circus act of the evening. It would be a while before alcohol was served………
ACT 1 : Broken Glass Walk – The Mind over Matter.
The walk started with a few brave souls volunteering to demonstrate the EO Core Value – ‘Boldly Go’. The walk way was set with 60-70 broken champagne bottles spread evenly over a white sheet. Helen showed us the way – keep your head high – focus on your end goal – do not look down at minor distractions , the broken glass – it will only distract. Before we knew it every one including kids as young as 6-7 YO joined in to walk on glass. It was one of the most empowering moments I have ever seen.
1) The glass walk demonstrated that mostly fear is only in the mind. Your achievements are limited by this fear. By over coming that fear, ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things (without alcohol).
2) If you focus firmly on your goals (outcome) and you have the determination to achieve them, nothing can stop you.
It was truly mind over matter !
ACT 2 : Fire Walk – A Risk Mitigation Strategy :
After having braved the glass walk, the fire walk seemed like a piece of cake. Armed with disbelief (of walking on glass) our anxiety gave way to a wave of positive energy. EO Families held hands and walked over burning embers in a grand show of faith and commitment to each other. Save a few chickens, who did not like the idea of being grilled on a tandoor, 90% of EO’ers present walked on the fire bed multiple times.
Key Learnings :
While I watched this amazing feat being performed by fellow ordinary humans, I put my thoughts on the science behind this act. Why didn’t this logic defying feat, burn us ? The answer lies in the risk mitigation strategy used.
Though walking on fire seemed to be a suicide mission, I saw that if you can consciously plan for every major risk that you can conceive in advance, the task becomes much easier to execute. This is very much like what we use during own business execution processes.
Here’s what I observed :
1) The length of the fire walk was kept at 10 feet, there by containing the maximum damage to a few blisters. (this came from Helen’s experience).
This way she had already covered our maximum down side.
2) The grass on either side of the fire was soaked in cool water, there by creating a thin membrane of wet soil on the sole of our feet. This way by the time it started getting hot underneath, we were already more than half way through.
On the other side, again the presence of wet grass cooled the already hot sole plate, giving immediate relief, thereby preventing any blisters on our feet.
Needless to say none of this could have been possible without a ‘Coach’.
I am grateful to Vibhas Prasad and Karan Bhatia (Eo New Delhi Learning Chairs) for organising an event which had such deep impact on how we go about mitigating risks while relentlessly pursuing our goals. The Learnings from the event can be applied to personal as well as professional growth.
Going EO360 with you,
EO New Delhi