I just finished applying to an MBA program. More than a year’s amount of work went into this. The essay forces you to think of your past, present, and future very intentionally and to convey your ambition succinctly and simply. This is difficult; and it was always supposed to be difficult.
But that’s the point.
Sustained introspection with deep intent where the stakes are high gives you clarity. And clarity propels you to take action, take charge.
Regardless of the decision, one thing that the process has taught me is how doing things with a relentless dedication, sustained intent, and authentic effort, takes you places. It does not matter what you work on, but by working on something, you’re bound to learn many adjacent things.
It’s like investing for an entrepreneur: The best place for you to invest is not in some arcane index or weird stock; it’s in your adjacent industries. For a newspaper company, it’s investing in the technologies that make the newspaper (or news) more accessible. For a tyre company, it’s investing in rubber. And the like.
Similarly, applying to an MBA program teaches you a lot about how to write, how to be simple, how to be succinct, how to think about your career with intent, and how to conduct yourself.
These are non-trivial things and we mostly don’t learn them because the need doesn’t arise. After all, introspection is hard. And at times, boring. But I find that boring things, if done over a long period of time, have a huge ROI. Actually, definitely more ROI than overnight get-rich-quick schemes.
During the process, I also found myself in a unique headspace: a binary filter. From making a decision on going for a walk to speaking to a friend, all my decisions were routed through, what i call, my ‘MBA Admit Filter’. I’d ask myself: Is this going to help me get into the MBA program of my choice or not? More often than not, the answers were ‘No, it isn’t.’ My action, then, was in accordance with the answer.
This gained me some unpopularity, but not a lot. After all, the spotlight effect bias is definitely true. But above all, this laser focus taught me that most things are achievable if you put your mind to it, seriously.
There’s no magic formula, and really, that’s the silver bullet. How British Cycling changed one day, I’d wager that most things you want to seriously achieve, will happen one day. It just takes time, seriousness, and an unabashed, unapologetic demeanor.
I’d also wager that if you’re reading this, you’ve done this before: You have been serious about things and you have gone out to achieve them; perhaps you’ve not noticed your laser focus.
This is my objective here. To share with you that while my MBA journey was pretty exhausting, exhaustive, intellectually- and emotionally-rigorous, it was in equal measure rewarding. Similarly, there’s a bazillion other things that matter to you, that matter to me, which will yield this unabashed focus; you just need to find them.
Hard work results in some success. More hard work would result in greater success. But continued hard work would result in extraordinary success after a point. Add a pinch of luck to that, and that makes this success a wild outcome. But in all the above cases, hard work is a constant.
From 2020 to 2023, I worked on one continuous and intense project at work. After that, I worked on my MBA application. Now that both of these things are done, I feel I’ve really learned a few things about success, great work, hard work, and perseverance. Ultimately, you need to be in the game. And for that, you need to play the infinite game.
“A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.”
Continue the play. Persevere. Soon, you’ll be surprised at your own capability to generate alpha.
I don’t mean this as motivation; i genuinely mean it as someone who’s been surprised several times at how things just seem to work, like clockwork. I found this particularly true during my essays. After painful days – even weeks – of not putting pen to paper, something would strike, and out would flow five pages of my life story.
A few days would pass. I would re-contemplate, and out would flow another five.
But after a lot of curdling of the milk, cutting the curd, processing it, draining the whey, and more, you do get cheese. And once you taste cheese, you taste effortlessness.
Mastery is a bit like that.
Be at it. Seriously enough. The pursuit doesn’t matter; what matters is the seriousness with which you tackle it.
I think cliches, classic tropes, and beaten-to-death metaphors are useful. They are useful not because they have some secret insights embedded in them, but precisely because they don’t have any secret. They’re shamelessly open, plain, and clear in their meaning.
“Failure is the stepping stone to success.” Particularly true.
“No pain, no gain.” Definitely true.
“Success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.” Couldn’t be truer.
“You can achieve anything if you set your mind to it”. Enough said.
It’s fashionable to read fancy posts, take advice, and think about doing great things. But today, looking back, looking ahead, I’d say that the answers are really all there. You just need to get started. And shamelessly again, I’m going to plug my YouTube video here, which i posted after a break from YT.
Until next time,