Submitted by admin on Mon, 11/06/2017 - 13:26

Sandeep Balani, Head of India, Outbrain talks about his love for the mountains and trekking and how each of his experiences taught him something new about life


Head of India, Outbrain

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves”. – Henry David Thoreau

Trekking as a journey started for me in my quest to spend more time with nature and explore the roads less travelled. Over a period of years, it became a journey of gaining experience and exploring not only the different sides of nature but also the different sides of ‘self’. From exploring places like Stok Kangri and Everest Base camp in the Himalayas to Nilgiris in the South and the Sahyadri ranges in the West, it has been a journey of great exposure and fun. One of the most cherished achievements in treks is not reaching the peak but enjoying the journey by making new friends and meeting new people from varied backgrounds.

As someone who has always enjoyed taking the road less travelled, I’ve come to realize after years of trekking adventures that each hike offers a distinctively different experience - and that the derivative is immense learning and knowledge gained.

Fear of Unknown: There’s a lot you can do to prepare for a trek. In fact, we often embark on treks knowing some of the challenges that lie ahead. Yet each time, almost inevitably, we encounter a new adventure or a challenge that must be overcome. For instance, while climbing a peak at Stok Kangri, oxygen levels drop drastically and the body needs to adapt to those changes. Regular medical check-ups are required to ensure that blood pressure is maintained.

Such situations not only force us to leave our comfort zone, but also spur us to think of solutions which are innovative, untested, and out-of-the-box. This concept of rising to the challenge is not new; we find this especially stark when going through a major life transition, when we’re in between jobs, or adapting to a new management at the workplace.


Changing paths and directions: Reaching the peak of any mountain is always a personal highlight, but it is in the valley and troughs that I truly learn how to summit the next peak. It is common to get lost along the way, barred by higher elevations or risky climate conditions like rain and snow – but more critical, though, is how we learn from these situations. For instance, treks like Harishchandragad in the Sahyadris have seven different routes with different difficulty levels. Based on the trekker’s experience and climatic conditions, they need to adapt the best route. In the business world, one concept we’ve heard over and over again is ‘Change Management’, where as a group, we need to handle change well in order to thrive. This is no different from scaling a mountain, where the odds of reaching the peak depend on how well we react to changes in the planned route and how we regroup ourselves to move forward.

Smaller steps lead to bigger achievements: It is good to sometimes look at the mountain peak as a source of motivation, but it can get disheartening as the destination then appears to be quite a distance away. The best way to adapt to this is to focus on the smaller steps taken. In fact, during the final stretch, what we often do as trekkers is to concentrate on the shoes of the trekkers in front. This allows us to focus on each step, no matter how fatiguing they may be. As the saying goes, sometimes taking smaller steps in life is more fruitful than larger leaps.

It’s not always about learning; have fun: Trekking is an immersive and experiential activity, but do remember to enjoy the journey. It can teach you a lot about life, so don’t get caught up with defining the destination alone, or reaching it. Similarly in life, it is all about living in the moment, whether alone or with your loved ones. Nothing beats having a good time.


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