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The Power of Small Moments

How Observing Birds with my Grandfather Changed My Perspective on Life and Career

By Sai NandhaaPublished about a year ago 4 min read

As a child, I visited my grandparents during summer vacations. They lived in a small town in the countryside, where life moved at a slower pace than in the city. I always looked forward to these trips, as they were a break from the hectic routine of my urban life. My grandparents' house was a quaint little cottage, surrounded by fruit trees, flowers, and a vegetable garden. It was a place of peace and tranquillity, where I felt safe and loved.

One summer, when I was around ten years old, I had a small but impactful moment with my grandfather. It was a sunny afternoon, and my grandfather had taken me for a walk in the garden. We were admiring the roses when he suddenly stopped and looked up at the sky. I followed his gaze and saw a group of birds flying overhead in a V-formation. I remember being fascinated by the sight, and I asked my grandfather why they were flying like that.

He explained to me that birds fly in a V-formation to conserve energy. The lead bird creates an updraft, which helps the others fly with less effort. As the lead bird gets tired, it moves to the back of the formation, and another bird takes its place. In this way, the group can travel long distances without getting exhausted. I was amazed by this simple but ingenious strategy, and it stayed with me long after that day.

Years later, when I was studying engineering in college, I was reminded of that moment with my grandfather. We were learning about optimization algorithms and how they are used to solve complex problems. I realized that the concept of the V-formation was essentially an optimization algorithm, designed by nature through millions of years of evolution. It was a small but powerful example of how efficiency can be achieved through cooperation and teamwork.

This realization had a profound impact on me, as it changed the way I looked at problem-solving and collaboration. I began to see the value of working in teams, of sharing knowledge and skills, and of supporting each other to achieve common goals. It made me appreciate the power of diversity, as each bird in the V-formation had a unique role to play, and together they could accomplish more than they could individually.

This perspective influenced my values and decisions in many ways. I started seeking out opportunities to work in groups, to learn from my peers, and to contribute my skills to collective efforts. I became more open-minded and receptive to different perspectives and approaches, recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to any problem. I also became more empathetic and supportive of others, as I realized that we all have strengths and weaknesses, and we can learn from each other.

Looking back, I realize that this seemingly small moment with my grandfather had a big impact on my life. It taught me a valuable lesson about the power of nature, the importance of teamwork, and the beauty of simplicity. It also showed me that even in the midst of our busy lives, we can find moments of clarity and insight, if we pay attention to the world around us. As the birds in the V-formation showed me, sometimes the small things can reveal profound truths about ourselves and the world, and change the course of our lives.

That small moment with my grandfather also had an impact on my career path. Before that, I had always thought of engineering as a solitary pursuit, where individuals solve complex problems in isolation. But my realization about the power of teamwork and cooperation made me see engineering in a new light. I began to see it as a collaborative field, where people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives work together to solve problems that have a real-world impact.

This realization led me to explore new avenues of engineering, such as design thinking and human-centered design. I became interested in how engineers can work with other disciplines, such as social sciences and the humanities, to create solutions that are not only technically sound but also socially and culturally relevant. I also became passionate about working on projects that have a positive impact on society, such as renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure.

I eventually pursued a career in engineering, focusing on sustainable energy solutions. I found that the lessons I learned from that small moment with my grandfather were still relevant, even in my professional life. I worked on projects that required collaboration with other engineers, as well as people from different disciplines and cultures. I found that working in such diverse teams not only made the work more enjoyable but also led to better outcomes. We were able to come up with innovative solutions that were both technically feasible and socially relevant.

Looking back, I realize that that small moment with my grandfather had a far-reaching impact on my life. It changed the way I viewed the world, myself, and my career. It taught me the power of observation, of paying attention to the small things in life, and how they can reveal profound truths. It also taught me the importance of family, spending time with loved ones, and learning from their experiences and wisdom.

"We can't change the direction of the wind, but we can adjust our sails to always reach our destination."

In conclusion, it is often the small moments in life that can impact our lives the most. That moment with my grandfather was one such moment, where a simple observation about birds flying in formation led to a profound realization of the power of teamwork and collaboration. It changed my perspective, my values, and my career path, and I am grateful for that small but powerful lesson.

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    SNWritten by Sai Nandhaa

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