Exploring Possibilities: Compass Vs The Clock
Today, I am going to start with a question. A watch and a compass (in modern times we can call it gps), are two different tools which help us in day to day life. My question is, which of them is more important, rather which one should precede over the other in terms of order of priority?
Most of us are going to either have "watch" as the answer or will say both. Let us try to generate clarity from this real life story. This story is about Barog railway station. It is a small railway station in the Solan district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The station lies on UNESCO World Heritage Site Kalka–Shimla Railway. The station is located at an altitude of 1,531 metres (5,023 ft) above mean sea level, 42.14 km from Kalka.
History of this Station goes back to British era. Somewhere around the year 1900, British thought of having Shimla as their summer capital. So they decided to have a rail route to take them to Shimla. As we all know that it is a mountain terrain, so tunnels were required to dig through the mountains of Shivalik range. It was not an easy task, and would have consumed lots of time.
Colonel Barog, a railway engineer, was assigned the work of Tunnel No. 33. The Barog tunnel is precisely 1,143.61 mt long. In order to finish the work fast, he decided to start to dig the mountain from both sides.
He made his calculations and as per the decision ordered the crew to drill from both sides of the mountain. He had planned that after a while both sets of drillers would meet at the centre and complete the tunnel.
The crew kept drilling but could not come to the meeting point. In fact, their trajectories seemed to have diverged. Morale dipped and everyone grew frustrated.
Col. Barog was a worried man. He soon realized that his calculations had gone awry. The tunnel would not be completed and the project was a failure. This was a big disappointment for him. The British government fixed responsibility on Col. Barog and he was fined ₹1 for causing a loss to the exchequer and wasting government resources.
Col. Barog felt humiliated by the censure and became depressed. His professional reputation had been dented. One day he went for a walk near the unfinished tunnel, accompanied only by his dog. Weighed down by despair, he decided to end his life. In that twilight moment, he removed his revolver from the holster and shot himself.
Later the work of the tunnel was reassigned to Chief Engineer H.S. Harrington, who completed the tunnel in 1903. But it is said that he too could not properly align the two segments. He is said to have sought the advice of a spiritual person from Chail, a diviner who indicated the correct course to drill. His name was Baba Bhalku.
By now you must have understood that the reason for the failure of Col Barog was his incorrect direction. His speed was good but in pursuit of speed he couldn’t get the right direction. Now I will go back to my question, which I asked at the start of this article, about compasses and watches. Compass provides us the right direction, whereas watch tells us how much time has passed, or we can say it indicates the speed.
If we take Col Barog as an example, he had the requisite knowledge, skill, and attitude. He was motivated enough to accomplish the herculean task, but didn’t have the right direction. We need to be cognizant that if we increase our speed in the wrong direction, we will head towards the disaster with double the speed.
So ladies and gentleman, in my humble opinion, we must understand as to what do we actually want in our life. This will give us the correct direction.
Once we get the direction, we must orient our day to day activities accordingly. If we can do so we will definitely surprise our self. As rightly said by Tony Robbins, we always overestimate as to what we can do in one year, and we always underestimate what we can do in a decade. Find the right direction, use your philosophy of life as the compass and explore possibilities….All the best…
(The author is a Certified Designed Thinking Master practitioner and Clifton Certified Strength Finder Coach, Corporate Trainer and a Leadership coach. He is based in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, India.)