Most students come to Wharton with a specific goal in mind. Some arrive with only a vague sense of what an MBA might bring. I was one of them. Sure, I wanted to meet amazing people that were both smarter and more successful than I was. I also wanted to boost my career prospects and learn from the best professors on the planet. Meeting successful leaders, traveling the world… I cannot deny that it all sounded incredibly appealing. But I didn’t truly have a single, overarching purpose.
As my two years at Wharton went by, I often found myself wondering what my true raison d’être might be. I now reflect on the real reason that I came here, and the most important lessons that I take with me:
1.) Don’t take things personally
Richard Parsons, former Chairman of Citigroup, stepped into his role in 2009 facing billions of dollars in losses, millions of enraged customers, and tens of thousands of job cuts. When I asked him how he was able to sleep at night, he said, “I realized that this was just a job. I was going to give it my best shot, but I would not take anything personally.”
As future leaders, we will undoubtedly face crises, troubled companies, and tough decisions. Yet there is more to life than our jobs and, yes, the world will continue after the storm has eased. Don’t get caught up in the emotions that often accompany a tough situation; give it your best shot and don’t take things personally.
2.) You are never alone…and you will never achieve anything by yourself
Leading the team that organized the (amazing!) Wharton Latin America Weekend was the single-most exciting and insightful experience I had at Wharton. I learned how to craft and communicate a vision, to motivate others to rally in support of that vision, and to make my peers accountable. I also learned that no matter how good we are, or how good we think we are, we will never achieve the pinnacles that we can reach when we choose to work together. The greatest resource we will ever have is the individual that is willing to follow a shared dream. Be a leader, and be willing to be led.
3.) Improving others’ lives will improve your own
Raising funds with the Wharton Cares team while running my first half-marathon did more than offer a group of children access to high-quality education. It shaped a better me. Waking up at 7am to train every day was challenging, especially considering Wharton’s non-stop social agenda. Yet when the race arrived, withstanding knee pain over the last two miles of the race was well worth it, especially when we had the chance to meet the very children we were helping. Help others, and you will help yourself.
4.) Cherish the unknown
Spending New Year’s Eve in Antarctica was more than trekking across glaciers and going for a week without seeing the night sky. It was about traveling the unknown. At the start of each trek we were given a set of coordinates, nothing else. Not knowing what to expect allowed us to focus in enjoying the journey. Most of us have jobs now; some of us may not in a few years. Don’t worry when you find yourself not knowing where to go, life will take care of leading you there. Cherish the unknown, and enjoy the journey.
5.) It’s all about the people
Wharton sets us up to achieve great things in life – we will all surely be successful. But it’s easy to forget about what’s truly important when you are successful. The past two years have engrained in me the most important lesson of all: life is about the relationships that you build, the lives that you touch, and the people that touch you. Humbled by an unmatched experience and eager to take on the next challenge, I have finally realized that YOU are the real reason I came to Wharton, and you are what gave this experience it’s overarching meaning. Whether you know it or not, each one of you directly or indirectly shaped my, and all of our peers’ experiences. Thank you.
#mywharton #youguysarefuckingawesome #dontwannagraduate #TheEnd
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