I have rarely felt as hopeless or defeated as I did on Jan 14, 2000. In front of me were a million people caught in a massive traffic jam, which I was unable to prevent.
At that time I was the Police Chief in Sabarimala, one of India’s largest pilgrimages.
Every year, on 14th Jan, when the festival gets over, a million people try to exit the hilly town in one go, creating a traffic nightmare.
That year, I thought we would avoid it with massive police deployment. But the traffic jam was as bad as the previous years.
I walked 7-8 km to look for the ‘source of traffic jam’ — I found none. So nothing could be really done.
The policemen were trying their best to clear the traffic but it felt hopeless. Despite feeling dejected, I kept monitoring and directing my team but at around 3 am, I unknowingly fell asleep.
At 6:30 am, I woke up in a panic, having no idea what was going on. When I called a junior officer, he said, “Sir, traffic is flowing nicely. There is no problem.”
I couldn’t believe it — it was a total mess just hours ago. How did it get resolved?
The policemen kept at it the whole night and bit by bit, the traffic eased. Ironically, the next day, my boss congratulated us!
Most problems in life are like that. We lose hope when we don’t see a magical solution. But that magic does exist — it is called ‘consistency.’
If you keep hacking at it, relentlessly, few challenges can ever defeat you.