The “Mountain Man’s” Story


A critical doer is committed to thinking and acting

A trait of the critical doer is commitment to thinking and acting.  It would be easy to assume the foundational question in making the jump from critical thinker to critical doer is “where does thinking end and doing begin?”  You would be dead wrong to make that assumption.

There is no such thing as a time when critical thinking should end.  Binary choices, where there are only two paths, in general unnecessarily limit legitimate possibilities.  What then is the foundational question of a critical doer?

The critical doer uses this question as their moral compass:  “have we thought enough to move forward and do?”

A great example comes from a tiny village in India from a man named Dashrath Manjhi, sometimes referred to as “The Mountain Man.”  Dashrath lived in a remote village cut off from the nearest town that could provide services.  Villagers had to travel roughly 70 kilometers around a mountain to access services; going through the mountain would be a much shorter distance.

In 1960, Dashrath thought through the problem and found a pass where cutting a road was a possibility.  He began…one dream, one doer, one shovel.

In 1967, his wife was injured and needed medical help; she died during the trip around the mountain to get help.  This only strengthened the resolve of a critical doer to drive on.

As you might expect, Dashrath had far more hecklers than helpers.  He toiled alone for many more years until the road took shape to the point where others could now see his vision.  Others began to help him and in 1982, 22 years after one doer with one shovel took one step, Dashrath and many others celebrated the opening of the road that connected Gehlaur village to the world.

Have you ever been in a situation or belonged to an organization where the thinking never transitioned to doing…but finally one person, despite the inertia had thought the situation through sufficiently to walk out bravely and act?  If you have, I’ll wager you have stories of how others joined in to help when the critical doer accomplished enough that others could see the vision and become doers themselves…just like the story of the Mountain Man.  I’d love to hear the stories of critical doers that inspire us all to turn thinking into the doing that transforms organizations and changes lives.  Please post them here so we can all be inspired by fellow critical doers!

Here’s a video from Unilever’s “Project Sunlight” that helps capture the spirit of a critical doer.  Watch it, and then find an opportunity where you can inspire others by turning your thought into action.  It’s what a critical doer would…do!

Updated: November 27, 2014 — 3:54 pm

1 Comment

  1. This line of thought brings up several well worn axioms.

    1. The perfect plan is the enemy of the good enough plan.

    Note: the good enough plan accomplishes all the objectives just like the perfect plan. Kind of begs the question of what makes the perfect plan perfect, doesn’t it?

    2. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

    Note: the single step is taken without certainty of everything that might transpire during the trip.

    It also reminds me of my own journey in helping people develop solutions to problems. “I will deliver you a product; it will be better than what you have, but it won’t be right. You don’t know what is right — so my chances of getting it right are pretty slim. But when we look at the first draft, you will think of things that you’re not thinking about right now. As I listen to you, I’ll figure innovative ways to address the little irritants that we thought we had to live with. In the end, by working together — in a cooperative an open manner — we can develop a better working solution —– but it takes BOTH of us.”

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