The choices you make will define who you become– Shikha Sharma, Axis Bank CEO
The word “transformation” means : “a marked change in form, nature or appearance”. More than the definition, two words listed as antonyms (sameness, stagnation) give us insight into why organizations, countries or Individuals embark on any transformation journey. We do not want sameness or stagnation and we seek change outside and within. I too decided to embark on such transformation journey named PGPX – residential full time 1 year MBA program at IIM Ahmedabad . Its been few weeks and I want to share my experience so far:
Most difficult part is making the decision to disrupt the status quo
After working for 12 years, I decided to go back to school. This decision was the hardest decision of my life as by this time I also had the responsibility of 2 children and a home. I was overborne with guilt of leaving children behind. I was also scared of living alone without family after a long time. My mind was full of apprehensions and dilemmas whether it was a right decision to disrupt not only my professional and personal life but also life of my children and spouse. It was indeed a hard and brave decision to make as often expressed by others to me. This is the phase where many women instead decide to drop their plan or ambition as they fear the disruption such drastic change will cause in their lives. If you are contemplating this decision, my advice to you would be to go for it. Once you are past this difficult decision making phase and have made up your mind, it becomes easier. It is entirely doable and worth the sacrifices you would make.
Change is completely disruptive (even more if you stay alone without family)
You suddenly arrive in a new city and start living in a totally new environment- a new city, a college campus, a hostel room. You eat in cafeteria and go to a class instead of office. How amazingly different life can become overnight hits you and there is initial resistance but within few days you start settling in and in few weeks start loving it. Just hang in there and go with the flow.
Rigor, fast pace and intensity of program is effective and actually helpful
No time to settle in or take it slow. It is overwhelming in the beginning but gets you to speed pretty quickly and is actually very helpful in dealing with emotions and the drastic change. When I took decision to join the program and in months before start of program, even the thought of staying without my children was enough to make me teary eyed and guilt ridden. It was in-fact not as tough as I imagined and post initial settling period hiccups, the rigor and fast pace of program left no time to miss home. Intellectual engagement in class and group studies and tight schedule of program immerses you completely into it and keeps you focused on tasks at hand which are plenty at any point of time.
Always remind yourself why you are here.
This is specially relevant to women such as me who chose to not bring family to campus. There are emotional moments of living away from family such as when you video-chat with family and you see your children or when they tell you that they miss you or when you miss seeing them, hugging them or being with them. In such vulnerable moments, it is helpful to remind yourself the purpose of coming here. Keeping the focus on the purpose of staying away from family will make your resolve stronger and will give you strength in dealing with your emotions. It is a hard choice but there must be some good reason why you still made that choice. It would be good to also acknowledge that this is a temporary stay and having made sacrifice of staying away from your family, you must make most of every second of it.
Only you exist.
If you are a woman and a mother, When was last time you could only do what you wanted to do even for 24 hours. When was last time your thoughts about work or self were not interrupted by thoughts about issues waiting at home – children’s home- work, classes or other responsibilities at home. When was last time you just lived life as you, the person. May be before marriage and kids. It is almost like a time travel. After so many years of living a multiple role life, you suddenly reclaim your earlier life without any additional responsibilities of being a wife and mother. You do miss your family but at the same time, you can’t help to not notice how free you are to focus on only you and your needs. Its like on those overwhelming moments of conflicting demands of work, children and home, you wished running off somewhere and staying alone for sometime and that wish has come true. Live it fully before it gets over.
It is a modern day “tapasya”
During the inauguration of program, PGPX chair Prof Sunil Sharma gave an excellent analogy of PGPX to a tapasya. Earlier, sages used to go to forest to do tapasya for some time to gain deeper knowledge, or to find purpose of life . I feel like doing a tapasya. I have left everything behind – my home, spouse, children and my life to come to this place and do one thing for a year – to learn as much as I can. To learn from anyone I can. To learn anytime I can. The greatest opportunity cost while we are here would be to let our focus deviate to anything other than learning.
Learning is the key
I can feel the excitement a child feels when he opens a new gift and likes what he sees. He cant wait to play with it. Its only been few weeks and I am loving the experience so far. When and where am I going to get all time to myself, to think, to introspect and to reflect upon my past and future. I am already starting to feel that this is going to get over very quickly. I look forward to each new day, each new class, each new assignment, each new interaction with professors or peer because in each one of them lies the opportunity of learning and transforming myself.
Note: PGPX office is inviting applications for Year 2018-19 batch. Click here for details.