Are you prepared to journey through the uncharted territory of your inner self? As we transition into the monsoons this 2nd & 3rd of July 2023, I invite you to embark on a nostalgic narrative of discovery, a voyage through three waypoints of a legacy etched into the lush hills of Solan District in Himachal Pradesh, India. Take a moment to relish in particular the transformative tale of exploration, and growth consolidated over 48 hours at the abode of learning - Shoolini University on the auspicious day of “Guru Purnima!”.
It was on 2nd July 2018, that late Admiral Jayant Ganpat Nadkarni, earlier the 13th Chief of the Indian Navy, and a Founder Trustee of the Maritime History Society (MHS) set sail on his eternal voyage. As a Guru I am honoured to be the recipient of his visionary project that paved the way for me to author the book "Timeless Wake: The Legacy of the Royal Indian Navy in World War II," and in the process making me the first serving Indian Navy officer to write for MHS. Today, I continue to relish the accolades and transformative journey that book birthed, a testament to the living legacy of Admiral Nadkarni.
Fast forward to 2019, when I had the privilege of leading the Special Research Programme in Maritime History at MHS. Three brilliant young postgraduates set forth on a unique scholarly voyage, a journey they continue even today. The tireless pursuit of academic excellence by Ms Amruta Talawadekar, Ms Janhavi Lokegaonkar, and Mr Dennard D’Souza is a testament to the potency of living legacies, the echo of diligent strides in the quiet corridors of research. Despite time and distance I cherish the honour I then had of being a Guru in the baby steps of Maritime Heritage and History. The true legacy is cherished in knowing that the three scholars continue to be the living pillars of research at MHS as they enter their their fifth year!
In my recent voyage as a naval veteran, edupreneur, leadership and behavioural coach, I spent two transformative days at the Shoolini University, nestled in the heart of Solan District, Himachal Pradesh. Alongside 50 fellow members of #TheOutreachCollective, we explored the emerging landscape of higher education, forging new connections and unveiling new perspectives. It is my privilege and delight to share my learning, unlearning, and relearning from this unforgettable sojourn.
Learning in the Mountains: Professional Innovation through Personal Reflections
Embrace Disruption: As Professor Atul Khosla, Co-Founder and Vice Chancellor of Shoolini University, pointed out, disruption should not only be welcomed, it should be actively sought. This reframing positions disruption as a catalyst for innovation rather than a threat.
Humanising Technology: Himanshu Dev, distinguished Career Counsellor, emphasised that our reliance on technology is a natural part of being human. As technology becomes more integrated into our lives, it's essential to recognize it as a natural evolution rather than an artificial imposition.
AI's Untapped Potential: Dr. Amar Raj Singh of Shoolini University highlighted the vast potential of AI, a message that left me in awe of the powerful capabilities within our reach. AI holds great promise for positive impacts and transformational possibilities.
Collaboration Over Competition: A key takeaway from the TOCians was the power of collaboration. In a world where independence and competition are often glorified, the sincerity and mutual aid offered during our interactions was a pleasant unlearning experience.
Prioritising Students with Empathy: TOC co-founders, Ankur Vohra and Bhakti Shah, along with Charushila Narula of EduShila, reminded me that the heart of education lies in prioritising students' needs with a humane touch. This approach supersedes any mechanical, impersonal, or purely data-driven methodologies.
Embracing Ambiguity: Himanshu Dev taught me to welcome a blend of clarity and ambiguity. Rather than striving for crystal clear focus at all times, embracing the blur can often lead to unexpected insights and innovation.
Age is not even a Number: The vision of Shoolini University's Chief Founder and Chancellor, Professor PK Khosla, now 83 years, is a testament to the belief that learning and dreaming have no age limit. His decision to found a university at the age of 64, rekindled my belief in the power of lifelong learning and reinforced that it's never too late to pursue one's dreams.
As we build our lives and those entrusted to our care in the high calling of education, let's pause and examine what is L.E.G.A.C.Y.?
Leadership - Leadership that begins with self-leadership, the journey of navigating our path.
Exploration - Each exploration uncovers more about the world and ourselves.
Growth - Our growth lies in the balance of embracing change and holding onto the essence of our being.
Achievement - Every step towards understanding ourselves better is an achievement.
Curiosity - It fuels our journey, pushing us forward, seeking more.
You - It is always Your journey, Your story and Your legacy.
Find Your V.O.I.C.E. is a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, fueled by a commitment to overcoming personal barriers, deepening connections, fostering a learning spirit, and ultimately, empowering transformation in yourself and others.
I am Commodore (Dr) Johnson Odakkal, a seasoned Indian Navy Veteran, devoted Educator, and Transformation Coach, proudly leading JOI as the Founder and CEO. I extend an invitation to accompany me on this journey to maximise your message, discover your unique voice, and wield it as a catalyst for positive change.