Life involves learning at all stages and we should learn from everything, everyone we can. And mistakes are a very important part of learning. They’re the best teachers one can have. It would seem like a catch-22 situation to not want to make mistakes but also wanting to learn something valuable from mistakes.
Yes, some would say that experience would prevent one from making mistakes but if one goes through just good experiences, they lose out on learning important lessons. He or she can be lucky enough not to make any mistakes but luck always runs out. What don’t run out are lessons you learn by making mistakes.
It’s really important to understand what qualifies as a ‘mistake’. It can be defined as an unwanted event which occurs unexpectedly. But when it’s repeated time and again, it no longer remains a mistake but can be labelled as a habit. Forgetting to switch your cell phone to silent mode before a class is a mistake if it happens once. It becomes a habit if repeated and the professor isn’t going to be your biggest fan if it happens time and again. You trusting someone with a secret can be a mistake but if you do it just after he’s spilled out someone else’s secret to you cannot be considered as a mistake. So, you see it’s really important to understand what really a mistake is and when we do make one, we need to make sure that it’s not repeated.
During any process of learning, one is bound to make several mistakes and one should. If you’re scared of making one then you’re not going to learn what you’re supposed to. You need to shed away your fear of failure and do what you have to move forward in life. And one aspect of that committing a mistake. During your MBA, there are going to be several instances where you’ll be in a dilemma because you wouldn’t know the right way to handle a situation. But don’t be scared, do what you think is the right thing to do and if you’re not successful at first, learn from your mistakes and try again. Maybe you’ll fail the second time too but make sure that you’re not making the same mistake twice. Yeah, one should make new mistakes every time if one has to learn. So, here are a few mistakes one ought to make during MBA:
- Not going by the book: Every movie or television series you watch will have one thing in common. The protagonist never follows the rules. He/she goes out of the bookish rules and does what he/she feels is the right thing to do. And what happens in the end? Through a series of failures emerges a hero. Similarly, your books will tell you a thousand things but you need to understand that the situation that you’re going to be stuck in isn’t necessarily going to be one in your book. What your book tells you is something that has already been tried and tested. A problem that has already been dealt with. But MBA isn’t about dealing with problems with existing solutions, it’s about thinking outside the box to find solutions to problems that exist today without a solution. Or even there is one, it’s never too late to find a better one.Your professor may grade you a little lower but life will always give you an A. The likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg were never the toppers of their classes. But they’re highly successful in their respective fields today, and that’s what matters once you step out those classrooms. So, use your grey matter to become an effective manager. Having said that, you’ll need books to form a strong foundation for your thinking process. Nobody consciously bases their marketing strategy using the 4 Ps or doing a SWOT analysis but the core idea behind all strategies is what they learnt from the books.
- Being an over pampered spoilt brat: By the time you start your post graduation, you’re old enough to take care of your responsibilities but there always exists ‘’another you’ who was either pampered a lot in childhood or wants to be pampered. Honestly, it’s ok to be like that. Because the first time that you’ll cook will be for you and out of hunger. You’ll realise the importance of that job and you will value it for the rest of your life. Similarly, the first time you clean your room, wash your clothes, iron them will teach you that even though these chores seem mundane and were left to either to your mother or the house servant when you were back home, they are actually important if you want to live a healthy life. You don’t always get what you want and that fact is not going to be embedded in your mind unless you’re made to earn what you want. Being over pampered earlier will be a big blow to you when you have to become responsible. And one needs to take a few blows to toughen the skin.
- Trusting someone instantly: Trust is one thing that takes time to build up over the years but takes an instant to be shattered. As a teenager, you may have had loads of trustworthy friends but as you grow your priorities will change and the ‘secrets’ may be more crucial than those in the teenage world. You may tell yourself a thousand times that you’re not going to trust someone but you will do it eventually. But, back then it was about relationships that were made based on trivial reasons. But now that you’re all grown up and ready to become a manager, you need to understand what you have to keep to yourself and what to divulge. The world is not a fairy-tale and sadly no course in the world teaches you that. Everybody will say that you have to be competitive but you’re not going to be that unless you learn why. The population of the world is increasing at an alarming rate and with that the fight for resources is increasing too. Everybody wants to know what YOU are doing to sustain yourself so that they can use that information to cut you off from the resources or just mimic you. Either way, you lose. But you cannot understand how to defend yourself unless you learn how to manage the gossipers to your advantage. And the only way to learn that is to trust one.
So, these are just a few mistakes I committed during my MBA and thank God I did. There are a million more and I wish you make them but just once so that your management education can be really fruitful and help you become a better person rather than a manager.
After all, it would be better to make those mistakes within a college campus rather than a corporate office sitting in the manager’s chair!
Contributed by Sachin Jalan (Class of 2014, IBS HYDERABAD )