How Gomocha’s CEO Finds Leadership Clarity on a Journey in the Himalayas

How Gomocha’s CEO Finds Leadership Clarity on a Journey in the HimalayasThe idea of a leadership journey condensed into a digestible travel narrative has perhaps become a cliche in our modern-day cultural fabric. But the heart of the matter is that a good old trip can often bond its participants, pushing one to deeper truths in an ever-busy world.

That was the case for Gomocha Founder and CEO Martin Knook on a challenging hike up the Himalayas organized by his friend Joel aan ‘t Goor, founder of Awake Origins

Martin said throughout his own life, he’s looked for ways to grow on his own – and not necessarily related to leadership management – because he’s always been self-employed. Joel presented an opportunity to get out of his comfort zone: For 12 days, ditch his “mechanics mindset” (as Martin calls it) of spreadsheet, financial, and technological knowledge and embrace connectedness in the wilderness.

Noticing the Power of Influence

He found clarity while hiking the Himalayas with a group of other entrepreneurs. Martin cut through the noise of everyday life and questioned why humans held even the simplest habits and customs, like dressing more formally for an office environment even if it’s less comfortable.

“I’ve learned that there are so many things influencing you without knowing, and I became really aware of those influencing factors, and I learned how to better identify them,” he said.

“Your ability to think clearly and simply, and to stay close to your feelings, instincts, and purpose, becomes polluted,” Martin said, referring to “real life” outside the mountains.

Adopting an Open Mind

At work, he now lets go of distractions during discussions and notices when he reacts defensively to others’ influences versus focusing on — and being open to — both parties’ communications, looking at the bigger picture.

In his previous “mechanics mindset,” Martin viewed feedback and dialogue as instrumental: “A task, a thing to do. Boom.” After the mountain trip, Martin considers the “essence” of someone’s words. What is the contribution? Is the person trying to learn? What can I learn from it? What aim are we working towards?

“My big leadership lesson learned is to try to peel those noise aspects off and really learn to listen to the essence of what someone is contributing,” he said.

Connecting Through Challenges

While building rapport with a colleague can take several months, Martin found the process expedited in the mountains. Before the trip, he didn’t know any of the other entrepreneurs who participated. The connection he built with them while in the Himalayas was incredibly strong because of the challenges they faced.

This was a bond through “the discomfort from being 100% dependent on each other,” said Martin. “We have, you know, storms, hail, a whole day of rain, snow, thunder, lightning nearby, which is crazy. It’s really scary. But then being there all together helps, right? Because there is no complexity about, ‘Hey, we need each other.’” Beyond the inherent need for one another, the smart leadership program illuminated our natural ability to offer assistance spontaneously, even when it was not required or requested.

Appreciating Self and Others

How Gomocha’s CEO Finds Leadership Clarity on a Journey in the HimalayasMartin also learned self-respect, taking the time to reflect on what he loves about himself. Understanding that enables an openness to appreciate others and moves away from the judgmental mechanics of our society.

“I’ve learned to articulate my self-respect,” he said. “So what do I respect in myself? What am I proud of? I couldn’t do that clearly enough before I went there, but now I can.”

Equipped with this newfound understanding of self and fellow humankind, Martin’s learnings from the trip have crossed terrains. Whether in the mountains or the office, the underlying principle is the same: “We need each other, and beyond expectations, we intend to help each other.”