Many organizations of repute consider Experiential learning for their Leaders and Managers – the reasons being numerous. Leadership is not a classroom discussion, but a contact sport, and an intensive one, at that, hence the need for “practice”. By definition itself, experiential learning is a wholesome educational experience through total personal involvement. Many would believe that Leadership development and experiential learning are modern phenomena, but it is hardly so. Think back to our Itihas, and one would realize that both the Ramayan and Mahabharat have one key thing in common (among many) – and that is “Vanvaas”. Vanvaas, literally means dwelling in the forest, far from comforts of the city. Metaphorically, Vanvaas implies isolation from wordly affairs and exposure to adversities. However, the spiritual perspective is the superlative one – journeying from the zone of comfort to the wilderness of self-discovery… to emerge greater! That’s exactly what happened to Ram-Laxman and the Pandavs when they emerged through Vanvaas, which helped them win the subsequent war with relative ease.
Imagine bringing Vanvaas to the corporate world – helping senior organizational executives engage in highly immersive personal experiences, followed by deep introspection – it would do wonders for them. We did exactly that at CCI – we crafted real-world, real-time, vanvaas-like challenges for 20 participants. We replicated the tough experiences of forest living through nine “hardship” exercises as Samkrida (gamification) – over numerous hours in the blazing sun, at Cherish farm, near Pune, by the beautiful Bheema river. These included: constructing forest dwelling, foraging for and making your own food, removing weeds from plant areas, making channels for water pipes, creating compost. adding compost and Jeevamrut to fruit trees, and much more….these were preceded by insightful Samwad (stories based discussion) from the epics and later, followed by Swaadhyaay (deep look at oneself – as individual and as group). All this and more, while playing actual characters of epics, with suitable masks, clothes and props.
The “Protagonists” were incredibly enriched by the processes – through meaningful experi¬ences — and reflection upon those experiences — enabling them to build new knowledge, skills and behaviours. These were triggered by Shaastra (scientific wisdom) – tools from Kautilya Arthashaastra helping them internalize that learning in a systematic manner. The day ended with Saadhana (action oriented self research): where we created a space for our participants to apply the experience, post the Vanvaas, like the heroes of the epics did. Grateful thanks to the leaders of Chiranjeev Hospitality Group!
Gratitude to our Purvacharyaas – Eternal Indian wisdom empowers us to open up, absorb, process and apply our learning to our practice beyond the “Training bubble” and discover the infinite potential within!
October 25, 2023
October 31, 2023