Yesterday, I met with the professor who is to be my “coach” for the next 21 months.
He was actually the one I met at the MBA open house last November. That night, we had a great talk about going back to school and being older dads. (He was expecting his first child at the time.) I remember coming home that night and telling Larry ‘I found my grad school.’
This guy was the professor for the Organizational Behavior class as well. He is one of those speakers that is just mesmerizing. I love engaging people and tend to find myself drawn to them. When it was announced after our week long residency that we could pick a professor to read our 15-page reflection paper and serve as our ‘coach’, there was no choice for me. I knew I wanted this guy and even turned in my paper early to hopefully get him.
Yesterday we met. We chatted about kids and then moved onto the paper. This paper was a chance to examine the things in our lives that were holding us back from becoming leaders. It was a chance to talk about possible paths we might like to explore in our lives and how we’d get there. It was the quintessential ‘what do you want to do when you grow up’ paper.
“Well, I went through your paper and it didn’t really have a lot of direction going in it.”
That was his first sentence. My heart sank hard. I put a lot of effort into that paper. I’m using grad school as way to help me decided what to do next, especially in the area of staying in non-profit or crossing over into for-profit. I’ve set a lot of nonexistent barriers that have kept me from looking at the for-profit world and figured that by learning more ‘real-life business’ from classes and classmates, I’d decide if the move was right for me.
He pointed out that “your future ideas seem as directionless as your past has been. I mean, you have a degree that you didn’t do anything with, you spent some time working in logistics and now you are trying marketing. You really haven’t had much a of career path. This paper is supposed to be about your next step.”
He questioned why it was that I didn’t have more concrete activities in place to help me make decisions. I explained my uncertainty on what I might want to do in two years. “I’m not sure I want to take the perfect executive corporate job just as my son turns 7,” I said. The professor is an executive coach for the numerous executives in Asia and Europe. He told us how companies would spend $15K just to fly him business class to meet with them.
I said, “Well, I’m not as lucky to have had your life. You got to do all that and then you became a father. My life turned out differently and I have decisions to make. I’m just not sure and was hoping this would help.”
At this point I just wanted to leave, but he went on. “It reminds me of the Alice in Wonderland story. Alice asked directions from the Cheshire cat. When the cat asked where she was trying to go to, Alice replied that she wasn’t sure. The cat pointed out that it didn’t really matter which path she took.”
Who says motivation speakers only charge a few thousand dollars? I got this one for over $70K.
How dare he judge my life and how far I’ve come based off some 15-page paper. I’m proud of what my life is. I moved across the country without a job or any plans on how to succeed, but did. I’ve battled alcoholism and come out to everyone I knew. I may never be some international executive, but I didn’t ask to be either. I just wanted to better myself a little and keep learning.
I left dejected. Today, I stayed home to get myself caught up on statistics. The final is being handed out tomorrow and we’ll have about 10 days to finish. What a waste. I cannot get this crap. Every time I understand a concept, I can’t make the tools work to prove my answers are right. I’m frustrated and my body, especially my neck, hurts from the tension.
Today, I want to quit. I want to just scrap the $17K already invested into this colossal waste of time and walk away. Fuck stats, fuck him and fuck thinking I need this to make myself better.
Luckily, I have 10 more weeks prepaid to help make this decision. But I can tell you with a 95% confidence interval that I’m contemplating leaving.
And for the record, I can only say a 95% confidence interval. I can’t show you how to prove it.
(Thanks for listening.)