I came to Haas knowing that I didn’t know an awful lot. That’s WHY I came here—to acquire all those skills that I lack in order to proceed to higher levels of influence and success in the business world. But there were some areas in which I knew I didn’t need help.
At least I thought so.
I’ve been speaking in front of groups, some of them very large, for years. My old job required me to give presentations around the country to crowds that were often skeptical, and sometimes downright hostile.
So imagine my surprise last night when I delivered a two-minute impromptu speech to my Leadership Communications group of 10 people and completely botched it. I was fidgety and nervous; I couldn’t quite focus and yammered on without really coming to a point. I misjudged the time allotted to me and ended abruptly and unceremoniously. It was not the way I wanted to kick off this course, especially since many of my group-mates had really hit their speeches out of the park.
Why am I telling you this?
For a couple of reasons. First and foremost, as much as you know yourself, there’s still a lot you don’t know about that person staring back in the mirror. Sometimes that knowledge may be a bitter pill to swallow, as it was for me last night. But then there are the times when you may be the only person to indentify a key issue in one of your case studies, which may even relate to subject matter in which you have absolutely no experience. I'm lucky that I have an opportunity to learn these things about myself by taking the time to focus on them by pursuing an MBA.
Second, admitting error or ignorance, and accepting criticism, is crucial to your own development as a professional, a leader, and a well-adjusted human being. I'm very fortunate to be here at Haas where the culture demands this kind of openness and collegiality.