Nayana Kishore is a support lead on JDA’s Customer Success team, based in Hyderabad, India. Today she writes of a life-changing experience she had during a recent business trip. Her experience reveals two lessons: be open to exploration when you find yourself in a new place, and think beyond yourself to others and the impact you have on them.

It was late evening. I stepped out slowly from the airport gates, walked towards the taxi and there stood the driver, with a big smile welcoming me to the beautiful city of Shanghai.

I never knew that my first international business trip would change my mind, heart and soul for good.

My first entire week was occupied with client meetings, calls, etc. The days started with a hot cup of coffee and ended with an orange juice. The dusky evenings were cool, breezy and beautiful. Walking down the streets exploring the city, I was mesmerized with the beauty, creativity and innovation all around me.

Sitting near the window of my room, with my diary in my hand, I summarized my week, thousands of thoughts running though my mind, and the words were flowing:

  • Tall creatively designed buildings, but all the heads and eyes stuck to the screens
  • Colorful lights from the ground to the top of the sky, but the moon and starts missing
  • Music all everywhere, people plugged into their headphones, but no sound of birds chirping
  • Green grass on the ground, but with electric lights all around
  • High technology and connectivity, but no human interaction
  • Lovely faces all over, well-dressed women and men around, but smiles limited to smiley emojis
  • Technology connecting people and places and food, but still a handshake was missing
  • Lovely city, architecture at its best, people hard at work
  • Minimal crime, people living their lives to the fullest
  • Cute couples, lovely small families walking, prams with chubby kids

It was such a feast to the eyes, but still something was missing.

I decided to go in search of that “something.”  On Sunday I pulled on my backpack stuffed with veggies and orange juice, turned my language translator on and started to walk. I roamed around until evening visiting different and strange places, some lovely, some scary, some weird and some cute. As my day – and my trip – were coming to an end, I decided to return to my hotel. I was half happy and half sad as I had not discovered the “something” I was seeking.

Then on my taxi ride there, I saw a religious building and heard different rhythmic sounds and hymns. I stopped the taxi, paid the driver and walked into the building with great curiosity.

A large board at the entrance said “JADE Buddha Temple.” The word “Buddha” to me signaled calmness. It was a beautiful temple, monks praying and chanting their hymns, small little kids playing with the bells, People sitting with their legs folded with eyes closed, and meditating. There was a big crowd yet you could hear a pin drop it was so silent. There were no phones in hands, no screens to the eyes – just people meditating, lost in their thoughts.

I sat and meditated for a while. My mind was calm. I was at peace. An elderly monk was sitting close by, lost in a book. I walked to him and smiled. He responded with a graceful smile and offered me a chair to sit. We talked about the cultures of different countries and how people across globe come to that temple searching for peace. Our conversation lasted 90 minutes. It was amazing!

As I bent for his blessing upon leaving he said, “Everyone comes here with a question and leaves with an answer. What is your question?”

I stood confused, a blank look on my face like a small child. He asked, “Lady – what’s your legacy? What do you want your legacy to be?”

He continued in a firm tone, softly, “The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone. But the thing you do for others remain as your legacy.”

Those words spread magic in me. I had goose bumps all over the body.  I felt like I had lost and found myself again. Create a legacy. Build a Legacy. Touch souls of everyone around and make a difference in their lives. That creates a legacy worth living.

So, what started as an international business trip became so much more for me. This enlightened me towards a patch of satisfaction, contentedness and happiness. This experience has influenced the articles I am writing and posting on my social networks. What an impact the travel made on me! My travel to Shanghai opened my eyes to the world, towards creating a legacy!