I write this post as an aftereffect of what happened last night at the Liverpool vs Dortmund tie at Anfield. Liverpool overcame a 3-1 deficit in the second half in exuberating fashion and made it to the semis of the Europa League. There are many valuable lessons to be learned from the game, but most important of all was to Never Give In!
Coincidently, the same is the motto of my boarding school, Lawrence School Sanawar, a historical school up in the Himalayas and where I spent my childhood. The Motto was sung day in and day out during the school song, and had been the main source of inspiration for me, my classmates, and other present and old students. If I could recall one moment when the motto mattered the most, it was during the annual cross-country when we were faced with a literal uphill, fearsomely known as “Sgt. Tilley’s hill”, and if you didn’t give in and managed to run up Tilley’s Hill, you’d qualify within time.
Now most of you will be confused about what prompted me to write an MBA blog that starts with a soccer game or an Himalayan upslope, but I wanted to shed light on how a three word phrase was used as a guiding light by Liverpool last night and by me in my recently finished MBA application and selection process.
As a preset, I should inform you that I’m an average applicant, with an above average GMAT (that’s a thing if you’re an Indian). I haven’t started an e-commerce, nor do I own a company. Come September 2015, MBA forums told me that I have a limited number of schools to apply to, while friends and family gave me the “you can do better on the GMAT” look. School consultants thought that their school was a long shot. With the odds stacked against me, as the ones stacked against Liverpool last night, was I ready to give up or was I ready to give it my all and Never Give In?
The Liverpool Manager, during the half-time talk told his players to leave it all on the pitch, and make it an evening that you can tell your children and grandchildren about! While it was 45 minutes on an April evening for Liverpool, it were 150 days for me. Endless nights were spent tearing apart essays and creating rewriting better ones. Nights when my body was sleeping but my mind was repeating my “Why MBA” essays. Countless “midnight oils” burnt. While some days were easy, there were some when I questioned my MBA motivation, some when I thought my MBA school list is out of sync. But I kept telling myself those three words – Never Give In! Never Give In! As one of my close friends jokingly said “Hustle Hard”, and I made sure I did.
Rejections, wait-lists, and acceptances came from all across the globe (to be honest the acceptances gave me more confidence about this journey). Went over numerous interview preps, made sure I had every answer rehearsed and prepped. Things went my way, and a lot didn’t, but it was for me to give it my all and make sure nothing put me down. I believed in myself and my story, trusted my hard work, and was confident that it will pay off.
And the day arrived “SBS Oxford: Dear Akshay, We are delighted to offer you a place on our MBA Programme…” and I knew I had made it. I had climbed my Tilley’s hill.
As I look forward to this year of rigorous studies and post-MBA job battle, I want to share this inspiration with my colleagues, and all those kicking off their MBA journey or application process. Know your Tilley’s Hill and the hard work it’ll take to get to the top of it; Give it your all, make it special, one that you can tell your children or grandchildren about, and most importantly of all – Never Give In!
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