** DISCLAIMER: This post is not about one specific person. **
Why are we offering that statement?
Because we suspect that multiples of you who will read what we are about to say will assume that we’ve written this about you.
We have not.
This is simply a pattern we’ve observed over the years.
Everyone deals with the stress of the MBA application process differently.
However there’s one specific modus operandi that is particularly self-defeating.
We thought, since we brought back the topic of authenticity recently, that we’d touch on this, too.
It’s the opposite of authentic. And it’s something that may be lurking in you, which can cause much difficulty and tremendous emotional pain when it manifests.
What happens is this:
You get all excited about the idea of applying to bschool.
You do what it takes to get started.
You sign up for a GMAT course, and you set a GMAT test date…
And then Real Life kicks in, and your job gets busy, and your boyfriend starts complaining that he never sees you and you’re not making time for him. Then a family member gets sick, and your car breaks down.
And soon enough, the GMAT test date is here. You know you’re not ready, but what the heck, you’re a smart cookie, you decide to go through with the test.
Ugh. It was hard. You don’t do so well.
That’s OK, you still have time, not doing well on the GMAT actually got you motivated again. You keep up with the momentum and put in a string of days studying.
And then…. your boss has a fit over a project that got delayed, and you end up working late nights and weekends, even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t do it.
Your next GMAT test date shows up on the calendar. You know that this time you HAD studied more — even if that was over a month ago. The deadlines are coming though, you need to get this part out of the way, you decide to go ahead and take it again, after all, you can always cancel if you choke, and there’s no way you’d do as badly as before, right?
Ouch. Not right. Turns out, you backtracked somehow.
OK, whatever, your first score wasn’t bad, the deadlines are about to hit, you need to do essays. You’ll submit some apps with this score and you’ll see what happens. You know you’ve got a lot going for you, you’re a differentiated candidate, you went to a good school and have had a solid few years in finance. It should work out. Right?
We’ve just told the story of what many BSers have experienced, over the course of multiple years.
This may seem like a story about poor planning.
In our assessment, it is not.
It’s a story about someone who is unable to push through the mental pain of doing something difficult.
This type of person shows up in Snarkville on a fairly regular basis, and there are some clues we can pick up on fairly easily if this is what’s going on with them.
The reason we call this the opposite of authenticity is, this person is telling themselves, “Look at this! An MBA! I want to go for it!” and they get all excited and motivated to get started on the endeavor…. but they’re not able to follow through with it.
They usually start early enough to make it happen, but they keep putting off the real work, and putting off the work (this happens A LOT with the essays), and then finally when their back is against the wall and the deadlines are here, they do a mad scrimmage of effort, and then they pray it’s enough.
Sometimes it actually is. Frequently these people truly are accomplished, and they actually have done stuff in their lives that will make them appealing to the adcoms. But if the GMAT score is too low (because they didn’t force themselves to do the work of test prep) and if that’s combined with a similar weakness in GPA (because they had these tendencies in college too, and the record reflects it) AND they don’t catch themselves with this self-destructive behavior in time, in order to do it differently on the essays, then it’s unlikely to turn out well in this current competitive environment.
If anything we’ve shared today has resonated with you, and you feel that you can identify your own patterns in this post, then what we can offer is this:
- It is NOT YOUR FAULT that you are like this. This does not happen because you are stupid, or lazy, or because you don’t care. This is a PATTERN that has developed for you in your reactions to the world — specifically, to painful or unpleasant situations. You have learned to take the escape route when things become difficult, and you simply have not built up a tolerance to manage the challenge. It’s just what you were taught, or a particular mechanism that has been built up in your system. It is not who you are, it’s a groove or a reflex that you have adapted.
- It is possible to change this.
Why did we title this post “An example of not authentic”?
Because if you are like this, and it’s something that you have done in the past, then the first step in dealing with this tendency is to recognize it.
By declaring to the world, “I WANT AN MBA!” and putting all these pieces in motion to prepare for an application to business school, then you are stating that you are someone who wants to learn, who wants to change, and who is willing to do the work to get where you want to go.
And yet, if you have on multiple occasions through this process of getting your applications together sloughed off on deadlines or avoided the hard work of studying for the GMAT or procrastinated procrastinated procrastinated until it was a crisis situation and then you slammed together some essays that you knew were not as good as you could have done…
Then you are NOT BEING AUTHENTIC.
You are a fake.
You are CLAIMING you want to do the work of earning an MBA.
And yet you are UNWILLING to do the work that’s required to get in.
We’re just saying it like it is.
Not everyone has this issue. (If you don’t have this issue, then it’s guaranteed you have some other one that causes you problems!! so don’t get too gloaty quite yet.)
If you DO have this issue, then just recognize it. You’re reading this in the privacy of your own cell phone or computer. If what we have said today feels familiar, with that aching sinking feeling of “Oh crap somebody knows!” then all you need to do is RECOGNIZE IT.
There’s no shame in it. It’s just like an oncologist who runs through the tests and makes a diagnosis. “There’s something here that’s not healthy.”
Once you recognize it, you have a fighting chance.
Because then you know. And you can change how you act.
If you want to be authentic, then the first step is to be authentic.