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Hiking the Half Dome taught me important lessons for the IT world

June 07, 2018

For the Memorial Day weekend, my friends from college and I decided to get together. Ahmed joined us from Seattle, AJ from LA and Lakmal from beautiful Sunnyvale. We had decided over a month ago to hike the half dome at the Yosemite national park!

Hiking the half dome required a lot of planning. Half dome is one of the most strenuous hikes in Yosemite so, we were in constant touch over the phone, motivating each other to be fit, planning on all the things we needed to buy such as water backpacks, good shoes, gloves for the cables, etc.

Finally, on the morning of May 28th, at 5 AM we started our day long journey. We were eager and enthusiastic; and started the hike with a lot of positivity. We were constantly pushing ahead with 2 minute water breaks as we got thirsty and made good time as we approached the base of the half dome cables.
At this point we were tired and Lakmal’s quadriceps were cramped up, however, the only things that separated us from the top were the cables. We decided to carry on. AJ went ahead, Ahmed and Lakmal were in between and I was behind them.

Lakmal was exhausted, and still suffering from severe quad cramps, but with sheer will power and a little bit of peer pressure he managed to get halfway up the dome. However, midway, his legs gave in and he wasn’t able to move.

As Ahmed and I saw this, we stopped, held Lakmal from slipping and moved him to the side of the cables, so we do not block the traffic. Lakmal was in excruciating pain. We massaged his quads to loosen up the muscles, but that wasn’t enough. Unfortunately, as much as we had planned for this trip, we forgot the most basic item for long hikes “Electrolytes”.

We sat there trying to massage his legs, but to no avail. Ahmed had already started to mentally prepare himself to carry Lakmal all the way back down in case we weren’t able to minimize his pain. Finally, as were about to give up, a girl climbing up the cables stopped and asked us if we needed electrolytes. She had carried a few zipper bags filled with pickle juice. Pickle juice is supposed to be a great source of electrolytes and is even used by NFL players!

After gulping down the pickle juice, Lakmal’s cramp improved and he was back climbing the cables! Although this incident was terrifying, it taught us some valuable lessons -

1)    There’s never a perfect time to start and nobody is fully prepared – In this scenario, my inner programming told me that “If I train hard and have the right equipment, then I can hike the half dome.”
In most IT organizations, people tend to think if they buy the best switches, servers and software’s, everything will work. However, people do not realize or prepare for the unknown. IT organizations need to be prepared for the “unknown” by continuously monitoring their environment for any anomalies and inconsistencies that may cause hinderances. 

2)    Teams need to come together during times of adversity – In this experience, while Lakmal was severely cramped, Ahmed, AJ and I came together to help him through his problem.
Similarly, IT teams should work the same way. Instead of pointing fingers to fix the problem, they should sit together and figure out how to help each other; instead of giving their peers the cold shoulder.

3)    Confront irrational fears with logic – To be honest, I was scared to hike the half dome. A week before, someone had fallen off the dome. However, when you think of the climb rationally, your fear starts to subside.
One of the biggest fears of IT organizations is generally implementing new solutions or upgrading existing solutions. A few years ago, when SDDC was newly coined term, people were worried and skeptical of virtualization. Once they let go of their fear and took a big leap, they experienced the value of what VMWare had to offer when it came to cost savings, simplicity and ease of management.
Overall hiking the half dome was a great experience and thinking back there were some great lessons learnt that could be applied to my life.

Note: This article was witten by Aditya Krishnan, TME at Uila and published originally on his personal blog site 
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