Are you one of those bright-eyed young people hoping to join a B-school and get an MBA? Your mind is probably a melting pot right now, filled with dreams of becoming a successful manager, the anxiety of preparing for the admission process and the fear of failure.
If you are looking for inspiration, look no further than the sixteenth President of the United States of America: Abraham Lincoln. He wasn’t an MBA. He didn’t go to B school. In fact, he failed in his attempt at running a business. But Lincoln’s life is a terrific story of never letting failure come in the way of your realizing your goals.
You probably know of Lincoln as a great American President. But do you know of the several failures he endured before getting there? Lincoln tried to get into Law school, but failed. He borrowed money to start a business, and went bankrupt. He got fired from his job. He lost eight different elections. But none of this deterred him. He kept trying, kept doing his best. And finally became one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen.
Next time you find disappointment and failure staring at you, think of Lincoln. In fact, think like him.
His life and his words of wisdom could be excellent allies as you prepare to take on the MBA admission process. Here are four quotes from Lincoln, worth remembering.
1. “I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards.” We all tend to worry about our inadequacies. We worry we are not good enough. The trick is to focus not on how good you are, but on getting better. Good idea to ensure that you are moving towards your goal at all times. You may make slow progress – but make sure you are making progress at all times.”
2. “I will study and get ready, and perhaps my chance will come.” Someone once said that Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. If you sometimes feel that Lady Luck is not smiling at you, maybe it’s because you are not preparing hard enough. The opportunity is there – but you aren’t quite ready to grab it. Don’t let that happen. Slog. Your time will come.
3. “Whatever you are, be a good one.” Our dream must not merely focus on becoming something – but on being good at whatever we choose to do. Whether you are a salesman, or a software programmer, be a good one! Too often, we spend all our waking hours dreaming of being someone else or doing something else. Bad idea. Whatever you do, do it well.
4. “I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” Learning is never–ending. Stay focused on learning new skills, new tricks. You probably are busy poring over word lists and learning the meanings of new words as you prepare for the MBA entrance. The exam will come and go – but the habit should stay forever. Remain curious about learning new words and expanding your vocabulary. It’s not about the words – it’s about the habit of learning.
And finally, here’s a little story that probably sums up the great man and reveals the secret of his greatness. One morning, Lincoln was readying himself for another day in the office when a senior official walked into his house. He was surprised to see the President of America polishing his shoes. “What Mr. President, you polish your own shoes?” exclaimed the official.
“Yes,” said Lincoln, barely looking up. “Why, whose shoes do you polish?”
Good lesson to remember. Retain your humility. Don’t let titles and success go to your head. Do those little tasks that remind you that you are just another human being. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you are greater than everyone else, merely because you have a fancy degree, or a big-sounding title.
Remember to polish your own shoes!
Good luck with the MBA dream. And as you journey forward, do remember the Lincoln lessons. They’ll help you. Not just with the MBA tests. But in the larger examination called Life!