May 29, 2018

Up or out?

We have a choice, a chance to engage with two different environments.

There’s the ‘up or out’ competitive mindset of the soccer squad. Every game you re-earn your spot on the team, or find yourself on the bench.

And there’s the fortress, the sinecure, the satisfying feeling of knowing that we’re safe. Or at least that we feel safe. This is my desk, my office and my job. When something interrupts that apparently secure perch, it feels a little bit like dying. Don’t touch my stapler.

In the fast-moving world of ‘up’ is also the promise of possibility, the freedom to innovate, the requirement to be generous in your work. Out isn’t nearly as important, it turns out, as forward.

Soccer is a zero-sum, winner/loser finite game. But life, it turns out, is a magical opportunity for up, and for forward.

While the sinecure demands little but compliance.

Here’s the key question: Which feeling/experience/state do you look back on fondly? Which one engages you, challenges you, makes you the best version of yourself?

When you tell yourself your story—the story of last week, last month or last year—is it about how boring and secure life has become?

What you learn isn’t up to someone else’s curriculum or syllabus any more–it’s on you, on each of us, to decide what’s next, to decide who we will become. We’re not in fifth grade, wondering if something is going to be on the test.

It used to be that only 10,000 people a year could learn from a top business school, that executive education cost more than a car, that strategies and insights were closely guarded secrets. Now, they’re available to those willing to make the commitment.

That commitment is a choice. It’s the choice to become a bigger contributor, to stand a little taller, to make a bigger difference.

Up isn’t always what we’re going to get. Sometimes, we challenge ourselves and fail. But the alternative, the non-choice of sitting still and hoping we’ll be ignored in our little sinecure, isn’t much of an alternative at all.

In this moment, this summer, right now, each of us has the chance for a bit more up. The chance to connect, to inspire and even to leap.

 

Today is the last/best day (the deadline) to apply for this summer’s altMBA. This is what it feels like to level up.