Three years ago, if you’d ask me why I wanted to get an MBA, I’d tell you: I find my current job restrictive; I have underutilized potential. I have the unique ability to see both the parts and their sum, a vision above and beyond what others at my tenure possess. Also, that I deserve to be paid a lot more than what I am — but you wouldn’t unless I create more value, which you wouldn’t let me unless I have an MBA.
So, I went and got myself an MBA.
Today day-in and day-out, I spend my time helping companies figure out strategies on market entry, cost optimization and the like. I help create phenomenal (and usually real) value, and get paid a cut of this value. Decisions impacting a few thousand people or worth tens or hundreds of millions are no biggie — all in the day’s work. Looks like I’ve succeeded in getting myself what I set out to get three years ago.
Only it doesn’t really feel that way.
Somehow, being surrounded by the high profile, high octane, high IQ, high performance, and in some cases high people doesn’t cut it — makes me feel rather meek and banal. There’s always someone who is better, and that itself isn’t such a blow; it’s just that it rarely feels like I’m doing something special, something different, something only a few in this world get to do. In reality, that is exactly how it is — or so I’d like to believe, so all you bubble-bursters beware! — but somehow in the grand scheme of things, I’ve merely lost the perspective to see it that way.
The sheer quanta of resources available at my disposal, and collectively at our disposal make us capable of doing many great things. It’s almost like the simplest machine of all — a lever. There’s tremendous leverage available, but the will and discipline to use it is somewhat lacking, probably because of this loss of perspective, among other things. This, of course, is a separate thread; possibly for discussion at a later time.
So I am now thinking, how do I get back this lost perspective? And the answer is starting me right in my face — look around. It’s completely fair and even expected to benchmark oneself with peers, just broaden the set of peers. Once the law of averages catches up, it is easy to realize how much higher up one really is, and this sheer perspective is a great boost — it destroys ennui, makes one more productive, and in rare cases even thankful for the many opportunities that come one’s way.
Of course, this is not to say that one should be smug, or feel arrived, or worse, belittle others who, to put it mildly, haven’t quite made it. (And they are probably happier where they are — bless them! Or will make it, someday.)
Just that every one in a while, peep outside. Be pleasantly surprised!
(The first time I experienced this was 8 months into my MBA — things were quite okay, but just that, only okay. I grabbed the opportunity to conduct mock GD/PI sessions for prospective candidates. The candidates idolized me — as if I were magical! Few things in life were as rewarding, from the perspective sense. It just made me feel happier about myself. Life suddenly looked a lot better, cheerful and worth it all.
Despite this, this peeping doesn’t come naturally. A reminder every once in a while is helpful. Here’s yours. And mine!)