Thursday, April 26, 2018

The language of the trek guide

Trek guides have a difficult time. Their lives are filled with loaded questions of the "Have you stopped beating your wife" kind. No answer will be right.

I have written about this earlier, on the learnings from a trek guide.

The recent trek we undertook, the guide used a similar 'language'.

The perfect balance between authority and free for all.
The perfect balance between fear and abandon.
The perfect balance between discipline and fun.

He kept us on time - each time - he would give us a time and stick to it. He correctly estimated the time it would take for a bunch of people in their 40s and a bunch of energetic kids to reach the place (any place). He took a call on where we should be eating. He kept an eye on the weather and smiled each time his calls were proved right. He kept the group in sight by splitting the local guide to lead and himself bringing up the rear.

And after all this, you have the laggards (us) asking him questions like, How am I doing? And this is perhaps the most difficult question of all. And like the earlier guide, he said, you are doing very well - this was not a lie because most people do what they can given their physical limitations and fitness.  He also followed it up with a 'why' he said that - so that it does not appear like a politically correct answer.

No trek guide ever says, you are not doing well enough or that you need to go faster. They always keep the energy and the motivation going by focusing on the what rather than the who. Instead they always say - we have to get there by 430 or it will rain (or be dark). Or they say, we will reach there by 430 and they get you there by 430 (after a bunch of rest stops and water breaks) and we amateur trekkers think, wow, we are good. And all trek guides are patient, very patient - with the slowest of the team and never lose it...And get every single person on the team to the goal!

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