Today is one of those rando posts that we put up from time to time where we talk about life stuff. It’s all related to getting an MBA and maximizing opportunities, we promise. Keep reading and see if you agree.
Imagine you’re involved in this hobby. You’ve joined a local group of other enthusiasts. You meet every few months, and there are periodic events and such. You’re sort of on the outside of it, but it’s fun. There is a core group of people who’ve been involved in the club for a long time, including a handful of the original founders. You become loose acquaintances with them; you consider them friends.
Then one day you hear about all this upheaval among the leadership. Some other members who you respect and admire have banded together and are trying to be voted in as the leadership team. This means the original founders are being pushed out.
Infighting ensues. Emotional words are exchanged. Accusatory emails are sent around.
You’re sitting on the outskirts of this, kind of confused. You just wanted to get together and do your fun hobby thing with these people. Now you’re being asked to pick sides. It feels crappy. You can see why the insurgents want to make change, because the way the founders were doing things was a little lame, but you really like the founders and they have so much long-term experience with this hobby, and it seems like they’re being treated unfairly.
But also, this is just a side interest of yours, and geez, this is a lot of drama. You want to support the founders, but you’re so busy with the things in your own life. You think about walking away from the group completely.
There’s a meeting coming up this weekend where everyone will vote for officers for the coming year. It’s bound to be high-stress and emotional. The founder reaches out and tells you that they’re glad you have supported them, but they realize they don’t have the votes to keep their position, so your vote won’t matter. You don’t need to come if you don’t want to.
You’d been planning on going. But you really are busy…
What do you do?
Let’s walk through a possible scenario:
At first you feel totally relieved. You weren’t looking forward to that meeting. You appreciate that the founder let you off the hook.
But something isn’t sitting right. You keep thinking about things, and trying to figure out whether to go.
You’d decided that no, you wouldn’t, that you’re going to use that day for your own personal projects that you’d been neglecting.
You start feeling guilty, because you said you’d be there. And, you wonder what’s going to go down.
And, you wonder if maybe you could have some influence on outcomes, and steer this ship in a better direction.
Here’s how to navigate this situation to do what’s right for YOU
Take a deep breath.
Imagine the future.
Picture the reality where you did not go to this meeting.
You hear about it later from the founder, or the other members.
You can easily predict now how it’s going to turn out: The challenging members are going to have a unified front against the founder, and the founder will be voted out. The founder knows it’s coming, but it’s still gotta hurt.
You felt strongly that the founder was being wronged.
Yet you didn’t go.
You also feel strongly that friends should stick together and back each other, and that being supportive to others is important.
And yet you didn’t go.
Hmmm. How does that feel in that future reality?
Regret sucks. If you can make decisions to minimize regret*, you will have a good life.
In this case, based on the facts offered in our mini-case today, going to the meeting represents risk for you. It’s an inconvenience. You’ve already been given a pass by the founder.
But that doesn’t mean that you should not go.
At least, not when viewed through the lens of these personal priorities.
Other people will have very different priorities, and that’s fine!!! What matters most is identifying the priorities that YOU have, and then applying them in advance to your decisions.
(Psst: This is very much a discussion about values. In case that wasn’t obvious. And many of the leading business schools in the world care a lot about values. The process of putting together a strong set of essays to one of those top MBA programs is the process of uncovering your values, and then finding a way to write about them. This post is meant to help you recognize values as important, and useful, in a practical way. And maybe too in essays later on. And oh yeah perhaps in life.)
*Provided you don’t over-optimize towards trying never to make a mistake, and in the process become so risk-averse that you live in a bubble of overprotection and fail to live your life. It’s always about balance.