In 1959, Dashrath was faced with a choice. He was out working in the fields when his wife slipped on a rock while bringing him water and was seriously injured. The closest town with a hospital was a 50 mile journey…..
The village that Dashrath lived in, Gahlaur Ghat, was a Musahar community. In India, those who are Musahar (which translates into “rat catcher) are considered to be in the lowest scheduled caste system.
Life is hard if you lived here. The people in this community grow up illiterate and are primarily ignored by the government. There is no plumbing or electricity. The community lives off the same thing they have likely been living off of for thousands of years; roots, snails and rats.
Help is Close…if You Don’t Mind Climbing a Mountain to Get to It
A mountain cut the Dashrath’s small village off from the rest of the world. The nearest town with a hospital was close if you didn’t mind climbing a mountain to get to it. If you were strong enough to go over the mountain, the nearest village was 6 miles away. But taking the main road which weaved it’s way around the base of the hillside would stretch that out to 50 miles.
This posed a big problem if you were sick or injured. In most cases, if you lived in Gahlaur Ghat and got hurt, you simply didn’t do anything but hope for the best. As a result, people died from things that would be treatable otherwise.
So imagine this. Dashrath is standing there, looking at his wife laying on the ground, seriously wounded, dying, and there were very few practical things that he could do to make a difference. What would you do?
There was very little he could do. And as a result, his wife died. This was when Dashrath decided to take on the mountain.
Chip away the Mountain, Rock by Rock
On that day, Dashrath decided that he was going to cut a hole through the mountain to make the path from to the nearest village with a hospital closer. He was scolded by his parents when he sold his only sheep for a hammer and chisel. The children soon started calling him “pagel”, which translates in English to crazy. It wasn’t long before the entire village considered him such.
He was 22 at the time.
He worked day and night, chipping away at the mountain. In fact, he became so obsessed with it, that he moved his hut closer to the base so that he wouldn’t have to walk as far.
Focusing only on the mountain also produced other hardships. He gave up his living wage working in the field. His family paid the price. There were times where he didn’t eat.
Still, he persisted.
Now imagine what everyone around him was thinking. Imagine what you would think if you saw someone doing this. Imagine those times that he could have quit. Gone back to farming. To living an existence that was more comfortable and safe.
In 5 years, the part of the hill he was working on had a noticeable indent in it. The work was slow and rightfully so but he was making headway, one chip at a time.
After 22 years of working day and night by himself, Dashrath had finally carved enough of the hill down to make a path to the next village 7km away. In effect, he had conquered the mountain. The feat brought him international acclaim. The end result was that children in his village could get to school quicker. And the sick and elderly wouldn’t have to trek 50 miles to the closest hospital.
Question: What mountain are you taking on?
When I was reading this amazing story, I couldn’t help but admire this man’s conviction. We live in a world where we expect things to happen quick. We expect easy. In fact, marketers use quick and easy to entice us to do things that we would otherwise not do.
Could you imagine working on something in which it would take 22 years to see the fruits of your labor? And do it in the face of your friends, family and all those close to you chastising you for it?
What if it would take 2 years? Would you be willing to weather through?
I think that a lot of small businesses are too short sighted. Bloggers recommend that if you aren’t seeing results in 6 months, you should quit. Seth Godin has a book that states that the problems with business is that they don’t know when to quit.
I would say that more people simply quit too quickly. When they don’t get where they are going fast enough then they view it as a failure. When they are unhappy with their spouse or their job, they give up.
If you want to cut a hole in a mountain and all you have is a chisel and a hammer, you do it one stone at a time.
In business, you do it one customer at a time.
If you are experiencing a rocky marriage, you do it one day at a time.
But you don’t quit.
You work through it. And eventually, if you are persistent enough, you may look back and see that all the work you have done may actually mean something to not just you but someone else as well.
In Dashrath’s case, this smallish, unskilled and poor farmer built a legacy for his village from his conviction. He changed the way of life for not just himself but for those around him.