It has been only two months. Two months since the jitter-filled, exciting first weekend of the EMBA program. Two months, two classes, two outstanding professors and almost too many remarkable conversations with fellow students to total.
I feel like I’ve already learned a lot. Lessons and mantras I’ll carry with me throughout my career and life. As a way to recount, I thought I’d share some of my biggest aha moments (so far).
#1 Aha Moment: Take advantage of the rich people resources around you.
As I was commuting home after immersion weekend, I was sporting a ridiculously large grin. What brought it about was primarily my incredibly smart, ambitious classmates. I was so impressed with the diverse, unique constellation of experience, expertise and perspectives they brought to the table. It was so enjoyable to be around like-minded, engaged professionals.
Lesson to live by: Seize every opportunity to network and connect with your peers in person and online (LinkedIn invites welcome).
#2 Aha Moment: You can’t always do it all.
Like most of my comrades, I’m a type-A personality. I came into this program wanting to get straight As. Balancing life, work and studies is not an easy feat and it quickly became clear something had to give. I decided to shift my attitude. Focusing on what I’m able to glean from school and apply to work versus what I wasn’t able to get to or master. This small adjustment eased some of the pressure I usually put on myself.
Lesson to live by: Try to give school your all but accept that your all might not always be 100% and that’s OK.
#3 Aha Moment: Always take time to gain access to diverse and better information.
Professor Northcraft’s class exercises had this clever way of making us throw all our work experiences out of the window. Two exercises in particular, Tanagram and Apocalyptic River Crossing, drew a spotlight on how leaders fail to be inclusive and listen—especially in pressing circumstances. I will never forget the puzzled expressions on our project implementers faces as they read the Tanagram instructions, which made perfect sense to the management team. Nor the 45 minutes I stood vulnerably yet patiently blindfolded listening to my team struggle to figure out how to cross the “river.” Both these exercises brought to light how easy it is forget inclusion and engagement.
Lesson to live by: Inclusion and engagement are keys to effective leadership. Solicit information from people whom you don’t usually connect with.
Now it is your turn. What were YOUR biggest aha moments thus far?
Illinois EMBA 2016