My birthday weekend was spent learning a new skill – Fly fishing. No amount of watching YouTube videos prepared me for the real thing. I started with a hookless fly on the lawns of “Trout water lodge” nestled in a beautiful corner of Pahalgam. The fresh air and breath-taking view of pine-covered hills, with the sound of the Lidder river rushing by was the perfect setting to begin this journey.
The next morning, we set off early and were embraced by the arms of newness. A fresh new day, a new place, and all kinds of new muscles were put to the test. Getting to the river turned out to be as much of a challenge as learning how to fly fish. Boulders of all shapes and sizes guarded the banks of the gurgling brooks and mighty banks of rock had been lashed together to guard against flash floods.
Balanced atop one of these banks and looking down a 45-degree slope that my ghillie had danced effortlessly across, made me wish I was 10 kgs lighter. Nevertheless, the allure of the river was calling me like an addict who found what he has been searching for, after a long period of abstinence. I slipped and slid my way down and before I knew it was knee-deep in the clutches of the river, transported to another world.
At the end of a long and satisfying day, exchanging stories about “the one that got away” and talking about techniques of how to strip the line and best ways to reel in with one hand, wifey said something that stuck with me. This interaction, underlines my learning from our fly fishing trip and catches my attention days later, as I reminisce about the river.
Mahmood, the magnificent Ghille helped her to overcome fear and took her to places she thought she could never reach. Across boulders. Through the river. Over rickety wooden bridges that shake and shudder with each step as much as first-timers who have to cross them. He did this with five magic words.
He looked her in the eye and said “I won’t let you fall…” These 5 words opened up a new world for her. No judgment. Just the reassurance that he had her back and would support her journey to the river and introduce her to a new adventure. Two tiring but satisfying days later I am grateful as I’m sure she is too. We have found something else to share, because of Mahmood. His kindness and his reassuring presence are what worked the magic.
Back in the concrete jungle and navigating other kinds of rapids as the work world surges over me and the currents of demands pull at my time and often threaten to drag me down, I remind myself of this lesson. Extend a helping hand. Be kind. Being there even if it’s just my presence and nothing else, with the assurance that says “I won’t let you fall” is a powerful force of good. It opens the floodgates of possibilities and taps into strengths and capabilities that people don’t know they possess. Together we can enjoy another day navigating the river of life.
Each one of us can and must do our bit to help create psychological safety in the workplace. Be that force of good. Extend that helping hand. Tell someone “I won’t let you fall” and give them the courage that will allow them to explore their world fearlessly.
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