Lessons from our villages

Last week as part of my profession, I visited a few villages in Madhya Pradesh. A trip to the hinterland can be a very invigorating as well as tiring journey. Moving out of the comfort of the office, traversing not so concrete roads, sitting in a car for long hours before one hits the destination village, interacting with the local communities, partaking of local meals – loads of activities that make one mull over life, its lessons, growth and learning!

In my interface with the guests at the Telemedicine Center at Jawar and with the Korku tribe at Roshni in Khandwa, I gained some valuable insights that can well be applied in our professional/organisational setting.

# Respect for what exists

Whether it was the local MLA who graced the inauguration of the telemedicine center, or it was the trainer at Roshni, what was palpable was the immense respect that one has for what already exists. I see this as equal to the appreciation organisations need to ensure is provided to colleagues on a regular basis.

# Curiosity kills only the cat

The hunger for knowledge is immense – women, youth, elders, everyone; wishes to learn something new. The eager faces that surrounded us as we entered the villages was very motivational. What I learnt was that there was no dearth of quest for knowledge – what the villages lacked was access to right knowledge, information and technology tools. Professionally, while we have all of these, we must ensure our hunger for knowledge does not recede, for that is the only way to grow.

# Collaboration

The lunch we had at the village was cooked by the community. We had a simple meal of locally grown paddy, lentils and millet. The joy and pride on the women’s face when we all sat down to eat from the banyan leaf was something that shall stay with me forever. Collaboration comes naturally in the villages, where one learns from the other. Sharing is expected and that is something organisations can always work to strengthen.

# Celebrate life

Every moment is meant to be celebrated. Every occasion is an opportunity for music, dance and songs. And there was plenty of that during our visit! This simple activity bonds the community and creates a sense of oneness. In our organisational rat race, we forget to celebrate the simple pleasures of life. Our focus is so often fixated on the big goals and the race to the next level that we forget to pause and appreciate the simple gains made during the journey.

# In harmony with nature

If there is one thing that village communities revere and understand, it is nature. They live in harmony with nature and are well versed with nature’s fury and how it can cause irreversible harm. For our welcome there was a small ceremonial activity carried out around the Banyan tree, which is known for offering shade and has numerous medicinal properties. Rapid urbanisation has moved many of us away from our inner connect with nature. Staying connected with our roots can be a great way to appreciate things around us and honor them for the gifts they bring.

# Simple living, high thinking

The women we spoke to were so clear and ambitious about how they wish to make the most of the knowledge and training being provided to them. The fact that many do not hold graduate degrees does not deter them at all. Nor does the thought that they reside in a village. Every woman we spoke to harbored thoughts of prosperity and bringing about change. Their belief in their own self and their abilities to lead change was astounding. We can all learn from this simple truth here that irrespective of our backgrounds, we have ample opportunities to make every occasion worthwhile. It is our self-belief that can lead to growth.

These lessons are invaluable and there is something or the other that we as individuals or that organisations can learn from our local communities to further growth and create a culture that fosters collaboration and team spirit.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

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