Adam's Peak sunrise

Adam's Peak sunrise

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lessons in a Desert Crossing

I had the privilege to join an Oman Guide group on a desert crossing Jan, 19-21st. It was amazing!

Lesson learnt in teamwork, sales and leadership on the crossing. Fist, some statistics – approximately 75 4X4 vehicles, 15-20 of which were support vehicles, 123 people. These are the numbers as I best remember them. For a nominal fee you show up with your transportation and camping equipment. They lead you on a desert crossing, make sure you are safe and feed you. The food was excellent but for once it was not the main focus of my attention.

The trip is for anybody wishing to go - from expert to novice drivers! The support vehicles are volunteers; they seem to get a kick out off figuring out how to get people unstuck. Truly amazing to watch!

What struck me the most was how 123 complete strangers worked together when required. As soon as a vehicle was stuck the other vehicles stopped and came over to determine if they could help (or were they just gloating because it wasn’t them - this time! Ha ha). Even the expert drivers found themselves up to their axels in sand on occasion. We would await the support vehicle, the expert drivers and follow instructions. Sometimes the support drivers asked permission to drive your vehicle and they just drove it out. Other times they would direct a group of people to rock the vehicle sideways and direct the driver on what to do as progress was made. Often times it had to be a tow and if a tow didn’t work then a winch. We soon realized the best things to do if stuck was to wait until the expert arrived as you only seem to dig yourself deeper trying to get out. Reminded me a lot of driving in snow.

On the third day I was honored to be in the lead car. Mr. Mohammed Al Zadjali, was the leader and what an expert driver, besides being a very nice man with a great sense of humor. He broke the trail. This particular day was the day we attempted the big dunes. Ismaeel provided this next story. We were on the top of the first dune of the day. I was sitting on the dune watching vehicles trying to get up the dune. Ismaeel was taking pictures. A Hummer came roaring up the final leg of the climb and suddenly we hear a pop. His tire came off the rim! Boy, was he stuck in the sand. Ismaeel, just happened to be a sales manager for Jeep Wrangler and Dodge Ram. When the driver of the Hummer arrived on foot at the top of the hill, Ismaeel very calmly expressed his sympathy for the bad luck and gave him his card, saying if you ever decide to replace the Hummer, please give me a call! WOW! Kudos to Ismaeel- here we are literally in the middle of nowhere and the perfect opportunity presents itself. Many would have let this opportunity pass by but not Ismaeel, he was very professional and sincere. This made my day. Later I went over and congratulated Ismaeel and asked if I could share this story. He agreed. Can hardly wait to use this story in one of my sales training workshops.

Same day, different dune. Mohammed was trying to find a way to climb our third dune of the day. He had made many attempts but just had been successful….yet. On one of the attempts we got stuck, the vehicle was sideways and almost on its side, well it seemed that way to me as I held on so as not to fall onto my friend in the seat beside me. I looked at her , saw the look of terror on her face and collected myself. Mohammed, said to us - it is bad when the leader gets stuck, everybody rushes over to help. Everyone wants to help the leader. The leader has to be careful not to take too many risks. How true I thought to myself.

And last but not least, back to the nature vs. nurture debate. Mohammed shared that he has some drivers who have been with him for ten years and yet they still do not “get it”, yet some drivers “get it” right away. What is getting it? The ability and understanding of how to read the angles and sands to calculate your best route. Nature or nurture?

Nature – the dunes were beautiful and dangerous, simple yet complex.

Nurture – I nurtured my soul during this trip.

I find it difficult to find the right words to describe the desert so share these words from a Sufi teacher:

"When I think of the desert, I think of the desert's wildness, its gorgeous and terrible loneliness, it silence, its purity. I think of how in the desert you feel at once annihilated yet totally alive and present in all things around you and above you, as if you had become at once the sands stretching from horizon to horizon and the sky so vast and empty and still. And I think of what is written in the Koran, 'all is perishable except the Face of God..'The desert is the Face of god, the final mirror in which humans see their nothingness and their absolute splendor-in-Him’.”

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