Chasing the Blue Horizons

Chasing the Blue Horizons

Anurag Mantri

Group CFO, Jindal Stainless

My day started on the deck of a ship that took us away from the shore in the golden hour. Excited for my new adventure, I was trying to soak in the expanse of the Indian Ocean in silence. It seemed like the infinite blue sea was merging softly at the horizon with the blue sky, and just in that moment, I took a deep breath and allowed myself to sink into the water with my scuba diving gear in place. The world suddenly turned upside down, and there I was submerged in unknown territories trying to override the feeling of fear that was slowly engulfing me. I took a deep breath to calm myself down and then started my journey deeper into the sea.

It was not until I was 60 ft deep into the water that I realized I was completely on my own. Sure, the instructor was there with me, but there’s only one rule down under - you are on your own no matter what. If you panic and let fear get the better of you, returning to the surface without water seeping into your breathing mask might be tougher than you can imagine. You cannot afford to make any wrong decision. Once you’re in there, you need to decide quickly with all the newly acquired data and be accountable for your decision. All you have to do is be patient and go with the flow.

When I came back up after my first dive, the sun was fully in view and I knew at that moment that this was going to be one of the many diving expeditions I am about to undertake in my life. The thrill of scuba diving took over me, and till date, I have covered the mighty oceans at multiple points in Indian ocean around Maldives, Seychelles, Bali and Mauritius. I now also am a PADI Certified Diver, which is the world’s leading scuba diver training organization. There are uncountable lessons I have learnt from the mysterious water world which, I think, can be applied to the corporate world, some of which I would like to share with you.

The first lesson that I learnt was the importance of unlearning previous knowledge. To scuba dive, you have to breathe through your mouth, so you have to unlearn the way you have been breathing all your life. In the office too, there are several tasks that demand this process. The ability to adapt to a whole new world requires mental push, but it is not unimaginable. The next thing I learnt was the power of silence and the power of listening to the infinite ranges of noise around you. There are many tools of communication, but the most powerful one is silence and patiently observing the tiniest creature or corals. The same philosophy runs in the corporate world too. A person who has the ability to listen to all opinions – big or small is the person who will be a better decision maker. Under the immense expanse of the water world, you do not hear anything, so you use body language to understand what your instructor is trying to convey to you. The lexicon of hand gestures is the only way to rely on each other. This brings me to my next lesson which is, trust. There I was with my instructor who I had just met and the fact that my life was in her hands in case of an emergency was an unsettling thought. But, we had to trust each other to get through these uncharted territories. Even in the corporate world, we need to respect and believe in our team mates to get us through a project.

The last and the most important lesson was to not judge anyone based on appearance. My instructor was a petite girl, and was shorter and thinner than me by leaps. So, when I looked at her, I wondered if she would be able to rescue me in case of a mishap. But I found out that her skill set is different than mine and she had more knowledge about the ocean depths than I did. That’s the cognizance I try to bring to my work space too - the ability to not judge my workmates based on their looks or other superficial factors. I realised that resilience and drive cannot be measured on someone’s face but shine only through their thoughts, words and actions.

80 ft closer to the core of the earth, going deeper inside the belly of darkness, I faced my fears and found myself alive once again. I plan on surrendering myself to many more seas in the future…till then I will leave you with this quote by Dennis Graver: "As a diver you are weightless and can move in all directions. You approach the freedom of a bird as you move in three dimensions in a fluid environment."