I remember the first few weeks of my first year of the MBA. We were all so excited to be there, smiling, unaware of how much work it was all going to be and the roller-coaster ride the next two years were going to be for us all. One of those first days we were sat down and given our first assignment…to write our own eulogy. Students in the room groaned. They wanted to learn equations and hard skills. Writing a eulogy involved writing…and thinking…and feelings. A few, as expected, turned the exercise into a joke and wrote about joining the circus or saving the world from asteroids and aliens.
I thought it was a really interesting exercise and was thrilled that with my non existent knowledge of finance at the time, this was one assignment I could do. We were asked to write one to two pages about what we wanted to accomplish in our lives, what we wanted to be remembered for. Was it career? Family? Community work? Friends?
Towards the end of the MBA, when we came out on the other side, different, more knowledgeable and slightly more mature individuals, we were given copies of the eulogies we had written two years prior to read. For some people this was a huge shock. These two years had brought them in a completely different direction than they had thought. For others it was still spot on.
A week ago I spoke at HEC’s Sustainable Business Conference. I suggested that students sit down and do the same exercise and revisit what they wrote on a regular basis. It is not always easy to know what all the little in-between steps are in your career. Life will take you in all sorts of different directions, directions you never thought you would go in, if you let it. The important thing is to make sure that these steps are bringing you in the general direction you want to be and the eulogy exercise can help clarify what that direction is.
I recently reread mine again and smiled. Imagine if all the things I wrote happened, how exciting that would that be. I’m looking forward to it!