Who knew: a Parable by, David Barrows API

 I was teaching at the SP Jain School of Global Management in Sydney, Australia. The curriculum was devoted, almost entirely, to international business management. I was teaching international business strategy and international business to MBA students. The students were predominantly from India.  One of the main attractions of the program was that the students spent a semester at each of the three SP Jain campuses in Sydney, Dubai, and Singapore. Almost all of the students were from India. Many of the MBA students were very young. They received their bachelor's degree in their early 20s and then entered directly into the MBA program. Needless to say, their life experiences were limited.

My office door and walls were made of glass. Everyone saw everything that I did. The door had no lock, so the students could enter at any time, which they did. They would enter unannounced and sit down and begin to talk. It did not matter if I was on the phone or working at my computer. One day one of my students entered my office unannounced, without an appointment, and began her discussion. She was one of my younger students, in her early twenties.

“Dave, what should I do with my life?”

 It was a question that I was faced with during my years of teaching. Obviously, I could not take the responsibility of telling her what to do, so I started my usual approach.

“Okay, it is 10 years from now. please describe your life in great detail: where will you live, what kind of work will you do, will you be married, will you have children, is money very important to you, what kind of Lifestyle do you require, where and how do you get your joy.

“ I don't know.  Dave, I want you to tell me”

I have never experienced that response before. Students have always said something that I could build on.

“This is a very big responsibility. Give me a bit of time to think about it, and we will get together again.”

 It was the middle of the semester record, and her cohort would be leaving soon for Singapore. I simply had to wait her out, and she would be gone. I did not think any more of our conversation.

I had not seen her for a week or two, so I asked some of the students where she was.

“Oh, did you not hear. We were on an excursion to the Blue Mountains, and she fell off the mountain”.

“Is she dead!!!”

“No, she survived. Her mother came and took her back to India.”

A week later, I was sitting in my office, and the student walked in, sat down, and began to talk. She looked awful. She had major facial damage, and her right arm was in a sling.

“Oh my God, are you okay?”

“Dave, it was the most wonderful experience”

“A wonderful experience! Did you land on your head?”

”I was walking along, thinking about what I should do with my life, and all of a sudden, I slipped and fell off the mountain. It was wonderful. It felt as if I was floating in the air. I never felt so free! Although it wasn't much fun when I hit the ground.”

“They took me to the hospital in an ambulance. I wanted to go back to the residence, but the Doctors would not let me. So, I discharged myself. What a wonderful feeling. I never thought that I could do such a thing. I am so proud of myself!”

Falling off a mountain is a transformative experience.

Who knew?!