This past weekend, I came to the realization that it has officially been over a year since I graduated business school (and man, do I feel old). Looking back, I realize that I owe some thanks to biz school for teaching me a few important life lessons over the past five years. As you'll see, these aren't lessons I learned from sitting through a class; they're actually lessons I learned from being immersed in a particular environment for four years. I want to preface this by saying that I have by no means mastered any of the following lessons. Absorbed the concepts? Yes. Successful execution of said concepts? Not always. Like most people, I'm sometimes guilty of being rude, prideful, insecure, unable to bridle my tongue, etc. I'm only human. So think of this piece of more of a "thinking-out-loud" kinda' thing...
1. Be kind to people.
Ok, so maybe they don't actually teach this concept in business school, but I learned that being kind in a (mostly) tense environment can be a breath of fresh air for a lot of people. In a business setting, people tend to equate kindness with weakness; if you ask me, I think that's a load of garbage. Kindness does not necessitate being a pushover. One can be kind, but also assertive. You can still say "no"! As a matter of fact, "no" is one of the most powerful, and boundary-reinforcing words that can be said by a person. But that's a conversation for another day.
Just be kind. It's that simple. Everyone is fighting their own life's battles, and it would really suck for your words or actions to be the straw that breaks the camel's back (this goes for me as well). There's not much worse than being the kid in school that has a reputation for being a complete jerk. Don't be that guy or girl.
2. A little bit of humility goes a long way...
You interned for a giant business mogul. Amazing! There's nothing wrong with accomplishing great things. Go out and change the world! However, be attentive to the way you share your accomplishments. Your audience, your body language, your tone, your maintenance of eye-contact- all of these things are quite telling of your true intentions. There is a time and place for everything. For example, a great place to talk about your accomplishments would be at a job interview. However, at social gatherings, most people don't care to hear about your resume.
3. Watch your words.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't struggle with taming my tongue. About a year and a half ago, I found myself in a sticky situation that could have been easily avoided if I had just kept my mouth shut. From that moment onwards, I made it my personal project to work on watching my words. The reason I'm sharing this with you is because while the solution to this problem seems obvious ("just keep your mouth shut, Miriam, duh"), it's a lot easier said than done. Taming the tongue is probably one of the most difficult lessons to put into action. However, making the effort to learn how to control our words is one of the most important things that we can do with our time. It doesn't happen overnight. Some people spend their entire lives learning how to control their words, and honestly, can you blame them? In his epistle, St. James says the following about taming the tongue:
"4 ...take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."
James 3: 4-6
What I'm trying to get at here is that the tongue is a very powerful weapon that can both edify and destroy. Whether at school, at home, in the workplace, or with your friends, know that your words are impactful. If you make a mistake in your speech, own it; but never stop striving to speak life into all your interactions with others.
And that concludes the life lessons I learned in business school. See ya next time!