Its already been 2 months at London Business School…and it feels like I’ve been here for a year, that just started yesterday, if that makes any sense. Every day I feel like I’m moving non-stop. From class to lunch to study group to competition kick-off to TEDx meeting to sailing class and finally, to home, where I try keep up with the mails for the day and ensure I’ve signed up for all of the events I’m dying to go to (ski trip, Dublin Tech Trek, Diwali Party, Santa Pub Crawl, VC Competition…I love the variety of things available to me at LBS).
I love it. But some days, I’ll be honest, I feel like I don’t know what hit me. Why do I sometimes feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me? I’ve thought long and hard about why that is and this is what I’ve come up with:
Its not about the time management! Many of my classmates said in the first two weeks that time management should be a part of the course. In fact, the longer the MBA goes on, the more I realise that everyone at LBS is of a certain calibre – we wouldn’t have been let through those doors if we weren’t. Time management is a basic skill that we all have to varying degrees, but no one is out of their depth when it comes to how to manage the set of activities in their day.
What is truly difficult, what lies at the core of this MBA, is what we do with our time. How do we prioritise what we will do with our day tomorrow. There are a myriad of activities, including class, clubs, social and career, that you can choose to participate in on a daily basis. There are dozens. But you can’t do it all. In fact, you don’t have to do any of them (no, you don’t have to go to class). No one is going to write a letter to your Mom saying you weren’t a good boy or girl today.
And yet I find myself struggling to juggle all of the balls in the air. For me, one of the major battles is being comfortable with what I’ve chosen to do with my day. All of us have come from successful careers where we had mastered our domains, where we knew how things worked and were very skilled at making them work for us. And then we arrive at LBS where home field advantage is taken away! Is the guy next to me making a better choice by going to that instead of this? Should I have applied for that club position? Have I done enough networking? Why is he wearing a suit today? She’s got a job interview already??
And so every day I feel like I’m shuffling. I don’t know how to operate in this environment yet. I don’t feel comfortable that the choices I’ve made for today are absolutely the right ones. I feel like a deer in the headlights, fresh out of university trying to figure out what to do on my first day of work.
And then I realise….this is what its all about! This is why I came here! I have to find MY path, make MY choices, not because the guy next to me is making it, but because it is what I WANT to do. I love it…and uncomfortable as it sometimes feels, it is the real education you get out of a world-class MBA. Because it means I’m growing. I’m totally out of my comfort zone. I STILL don’t know what I’m doing next. And that’s okay. It really is. Because I’ve learned to be comfortable with my level of discomfort. And I am genuinely meeting some of the coolest, most amazing people I’ve ever come across – many of whom will become friends for life.
Every day I might be shuffling, but I’m having an absolutely party rocking time doing it.
Its been a rollercoaster few weeks at LBS. I’m sure that is probably the most over-used line in these blogs, but dammit it’s true. I’ve got a flu which I can’t shake, mainly cos I’m not sleeping much. This is down to 1 of 2 reasons:
1. I am drinking at the Windsor, at a flat party or at a restaurant
2. I’m trying to finish my corporate finance homework
Either way…I’m loving life. I’ve met some fascinating people these past few weeks and discovered a number of clubs and leadership positions that I’m super keen to be a part of. And my biggest learning has been that more than anything, this MBA is going to be about making choices based on me and my passions. Its a hard lesson to learn for someone who suffers from FOMO (fear of missing out), especially when there are 3001 different choices you could make, all sounding equally appealing.
And so I have to make a call to do what I want (just signed up for sailing lessons today!!). Because for some reason…I can’t do everything!
I need another beer.
So you woke up one morning and decided that you needed change. Maybe you realised you didn’t enjoy what you were doing. Maybe you decided that you needed to understand what those guys in Finance keep talking about (DCF?!). Whatever the reason, somehow you ended up at London Business School. Or at least that’s how my story went.
I don’t know what I expected, but I think I got it. The captain of the oil tanker and the NFL football fit the cliché of “diversity of background” I had seen in the brochure, and yet it’s still one of the coolest stories I tell people not on the programme. So did the Kazakhstanis, the Peruvians, the Moroccans, the Romanians…the list goes on and on. I guess that was one of the biggest aspects of LBS that drew me here and frankly, I wish I could bring people to class everyday cos they tend not to believe me when I sound like an advertising brochure for the UN.
Somehow within a week of starting I already had 100 pages of pre-reading, homework, experienced an intense simulation day with my study group, gone through a full day of team building activities (including jumping backwards off a 30 foot pillar the size of a placemat with 3 other people at the same time), attended an individual coaching session with a psychologist, and participated in numerous other activities designed to show how working in a team is not a piece of cake and leaders are not simply born. Feeling somewhat tired after this, I enquired as to whether the demands of the programme in the coming weeks would reflect the intensity of week 1. Fortunately not I learned.
“Oh yes. Enjoy it while it lasts. It’s the calm before the storm” – MBA Stream Manager who shall remain nameless.
And then of course there is London, where the natives are born with an umbrella strapped to their arms. The weather is actually forecast in 10 minute intervals. You learn to love the tube (this is what I have to tell myself to sleep at night) and the wonderful array of characters you inevitably find on it. And then you look up from Google Maps on your phone to discover what is truly one of the most remarkable cities in the world, where you can go clubbing at 2pm on a Sunday and then for breakfast at 8pm when you’re done (or so I’ve been told).
And in the end, what I’ve realised is that this is the best money I’ve spent in a while (barring the Krispy Kreme donut I just had for dessert), I’m about to have the time of my life, and last, but certainly not least, I’m going to get to know myself very, very well over the next 2 years.
Here’s to the storm that’s about to hit.