It has certainly tested my time management skills to the limit. The calendar is just a smush of colour from sunrise to sunset, filled with tasks and appointments. Even the social events have become course-related. A visit to the opera is not just a social event, but a networking opportunity, a study trip and a data gathering exercise. At least there have been two of those in the past week (Mozart and Machover, if you’re wondering).
The spring break seems like an eternity away, there’s so much to get done between now and then. It is hard to look beyond even the next few hours of the schedule. It truly is hard to see the forest for the trees right now.
And yet, part of the MBA program is to develop as a leader. And a key role of the leader is to articulate the bigger picture, to see the forest for the trees. A leader must see the direction that they are taking, and see what direction they can take.
There may be a Zen-like aphorism in all of this: in order to lead others, we must first learn to lead ourselves.
This may be the point of structuring the MBA as a relentless test of capability; to survive we must push ourselves to the limit of our intellect and our emotions. We must draw on all our resources to stay motivated.
We must lead ourselves.
Through all this we eventually understand the responsibility that comes with having to motivate others, to be able to keep them challenged intellectually, but remain sensitive to their needs and limitations.
Don’t get me wrong, the finance, accounting and strategy components of an MBA education are all important, but such knowledge is useless if it cannot be applied. And to do that takes leadership skills.
So despite the trees, we must look for the forest. For me that’s the goal of using this education to make an impact in the arts world, to use technology and data to augment our ability to make decisions, to satisfy the audiences we already have and to entice audiences that are yet to come.
To my fellow MBA colleagues heading into the exam period, take a moment to remind yourself of your goals. Take a look at the forest. And keep heading through the trees.