Hello SOTGC community,
This question is the opening note on Stanford’s Graduate School of Business application for prospective MBAs.
This question is notorious, not only because it is unexpectedly personal, but also because each applicant expresses frustration at how hard it ultimately is to answer it in a thoughtful, genuine, but not trite, way.
I think it’s kind of cool that a top business school would consider self-awareness as critical to leadership. And of course it is.
In Part 1, I invited SOTGC readers to join me as I broke down this self-analysis of sorts into mini questions. In my experience, even a few lines, thoughts, or paragraphs will open your mind and your heart to what matters to you.
Also, I recommended that you consider making this exercise an annual practice – perhaps on your birthday or New Year’s – so that you can take note of your growth, maturity, and wisdom as it develops over time. Aging is a good thing.
Mini question one (from my last post): What do you believe?
Did you jot anything down? Maybe thoughts popped into your mind at times. If you didn’t read the post, I invite you to join me in playing with this question. Make it fun.
For me, I thought about a lot of things, including nothing at all. I consider it cogitating. Taking time to question, think, and feel about big things can be hard, and boring at first.
Many of us tell ourselves that we’re too busy. Or maybe we simply don’t know – we’ve never thought about it at all. Well, this is your moment.
Here’s what I came up with when answering, “What do you believe?”
- I believe it is our birthright to be happy. I expect it to be uncomfortable on my way to being happy. I go to therapy when I need to, take risks, and try my hand at blogging. I find that I make a better parent, spouse, friend, professional, AND I am more equipped to use my gifts to make the world a better place. I am clear that most of the world doesn’t have the luxury to be happy, at least in the context of this article. That’s a whole other subject waiting to be discussed.
- I believe that my spirituality is evolving, and that’s a good thing. That’s new for me. I used to believe there was a right and wrong way to believe. Period. Growing up in a family that was dogmatic to the extreme, I have rejected the idea that there is only one way to find truth and meaning. I am a seeker and I like that.
- After my recent trip to the Grand Canyon, I saw with my own eyes and read the facts about rocks that are billions of years old. What in the heck am I supposed to do with that kind of number? Cogitate I suppose. Check out my photo of Petrified wood.
These are a few of my thoughts, and I share them with great humility – another important characteristic of leadership that I strive for.
Mini question two: Have you had a life-changing impact on a single person’s life?
- Have you significantly improved the quality of life for someone you don’t know?
- Have you tutored or taught someone to read, or financed an education that changed the course of that person’s life and their families for generations to come?
- Have you shared your privilege in some way because of a core belief that you hold dear?
I encourage you to give it some thought. And be sure and come back for mini question three in my next post.
Let this be a life-changing experience for you too. I’d love to hear your thoughts below.
Since SOTGC was created to be a forum for discussion we’d love it if you joined the conversation. Please comment with your thoughts below and have a great day.