Before I start, I would like to mention that I'm a die-hard fan of Google Maps and will continue using it for a long time to come. There is no doubt it suggests some really crazy ways to reach your destination, but there is a one in a million chance for it to happen and I was that one in a million who experienced it firsthand.
I was in Dehradun to attend a wedding. Everything went smooth and it was my time to get back to Chandigarh (the most beautiful, cleanest and greenest city of India). I was in an area towards the south of Dehradun and for me to take the same path using which I came to Dehradun was difficult as I would have to go through some really crazy city traffic. So I decided to use Google Maps and check if there is another way. It did show me a way which was 23 minutes faster than the original way. So, greedy me decided to take that.
I was on the highway and suddenly I saw a right turn on the app. I took that turn believing Google can't go wrong. The first kilometer was fine but then the road got narrower and bumpier and I entered a village. The road was so bad that for a moment I thought of going back but I had already covered around 4 kms from that right turn. So I decided to move on in the hope that I will soon get connected to a highway. Soon there was no road. It was all rocks and dusty roads made naturally by animals. I crossed villages after villages (around 50+ in total) on a road that couldn't even fit one car. I crossed around 70 kms at not more than 20 kms per hour on ‘so called’ roads. And guess what, there were stretches where there were speed breakers. How can you make speed breakers on roads that are already speed breakers. There were stretches of over 10+ kms where there was no network and I was running low on petrol.
My car tyres are so old and so thin that one can easily see through them (Exaggeration should be banned on LinkedIn :p). There were moments when I thought the car would give up and I started talking to it "Comm'on baby, you can do this. You've been my best friend for the past 5 years and I know you won't give up". Google Maps even called a riverbed, a road. I was very hungry, I was sweating (I turned off the AC to preserve the dwindling fuel), I was hyper anxious and with every passing kilometer I started hating Google Maps not because it directed me to a wrong path but because it was calling riverbeds and naturally made pathways, roads and was taking me deeper into nowhere.
After 70 long kms, I finally saw a beautiful and smooth two- lane national highway. I started respecting a two- lane highway and didn't want expressways and flyways anymore. As soon as I got on it, I got so emotional that I was on the verge of crying. I saw a petrol pump and a dhaba (an Indian version of a not-so-fine dining restaurant) next to each other. I did fill up the tank but didn't eat anything as I was not hungry anymore. My body was overwhelmed with some kind of a chemical. I can't explain that feeling. Iwas full of gratitude. Everything seemed beautiful. I felt like Tom Hanks from the movie Cast Away. The scene where he comes back to civilization and enters a room where there is food and a lighter. He lights up the lighter and laughs on how easy it is to start a fire. For me the lighter was the national highway. How easy it was for me to drive above 100 kms an hour without the fear of a bump or a speed breaker over a speed breaker.
Here's what I learnt from my ordeal:
Hope is the most powerful emotion of them all: I will find a national highway soon. I will get connected to a mobile network soon. The tyres will make it. The fuel will not run out. All these things were going on in my mind simultaneously and it was hope that made me drive through for over 3.5 hours and 70 kms. I know businesses don't run on hope, but when things do go wrong, hoping it will get better and pushing yourself to make that hope a reality will make you stronger even if you are not able to make it.
When you are going through hell, keep going: For me it was "When you are going through villages, keep going". This quote from Winston Churchill is a masterpiece. Look at the positive side of going through hell. I'm at home right now, writing this. I will post it here as well as other places. I may get some SEO and few people will get to know me. And by the way, this is my first article and who knows I may write many in the future because I have started liking it. I got to see the untouched beauty of India that very few people have seen. It was one of the most picturesque 70 kms of my life. All this because I didn't take a U-turn and took a decision to go through the ordeal. What doesn't kill you, actually makes you stronger.
Darr ke aage jeet hai: In India, Mountain Dew has the tag line "Darr ke aage jeet hai" which means that you will win if you can conquer fear. That's the only reason I drink it. I hate the taste :p. It is such a powerful statement and in my situation, it was the fuel I needed to go through the unknown. I wasn't scared but yes, if you don't have mobile network in the middle of nowhere, you better be scared. I actually started thinking about Bear Grills and his survival techniques. You know... incase. As rightly said by Grant Cardone, "Respond to fear with action". I did just that.
Believe in your car: Believe in yourself and if you are an entrepreneur, believe in your team too. The fuel, tyres, engine etc. of the car were a team who performed even though initially I feared they are not going to make it. I started believing in them when I was halfway into the ordeal. I think same is the case with a team. You can make a team do wonders if they can feel how much you believe in them.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work: That was quoted by Thomas A. Edison when asked about his failure to make a bulb. In my case, I now know one way to not come from Dehradun to Chandigarh and I also know that I should double-check with bystanders when using Google Maps the next time. Just imagine if it was night-time or if I was with one of my loved ones. I'm so glad I learnt this lesson, even though it was the hard way.
You can't forget the good things because of just one bad experience: There are 100s of navigation software out there but I will continue using Google Maps as I just can't forget the times when it took me out of trouble. I can't forget the beautiful paths it has suggested me in the past, can I? I think the same can be thought about a team member of your organization. Give him/her a chance in case they take a wrong decision.
It was a great experience and a lot of personal and business decisions I will take will be based on this experience. I feel I'm a stronger man than I was before I took this wrong turn, all thanks to Google.