Winter break brought a much needed space for rest, reflection, and rejuvenation after four incredibly eventful months of business school. Michaelmas, the first of three ten-week terms, was exhilarating and enlightening. Yet at the same time, it was also mentally straining. Abundant activities eroded my energy levels like constant rain erodes land. Days were bursting with lectures, assignments, and exams; as well as extracurricular activities such as talks, debates, sporting or social events. And after that, you could bet there was another required reading for the next day. Being an MBA student is being constantly “on”.
Unwinding from this unceasing adrenalin rush was oddly hard. It took me a week to power off from the hyper-attentive mentality and return to a well-balanced self. Being physically distanced from the university facilitated my reflecting on my experience. At times, this was an uneasy confrontation with reality. I realized that the relentless nature of the MBA programme took a toll on my spirit, my creativity, and my attentiveness as a partner. Yet, I also realized just how profound the learning of the past few months was.
In business school, time is a scarce resource. Yet, I firmly believe that reflection is an integral part of any learning experience.
Notably, it made me appreciate just how important reflection is to my learning experience. It meant to consciously stop and process my experience. The English philosopher John Stuart Mill noted, “knowledge does not mean much until experience brings it home”. Reflecting on my learning was ‘bringing it home’ for me. It was an incredibly valuable process, but it took time. And this is where the caveat lies: In business school, time is a scarce resource. There’s just too much going on; it is difficult to hear oneself think. Yet, I firmly believe that reflection is an integral part of any learning experience. It helps us to transform theory into meaningful, actionable insights in the perspective of our own lives. To reflect is to grow.
Despite (or perhaps because of) our busy schedules, it is vital to create empty spaces where reflection can occur.
So, where does this leave me and my experience in business school? The amount of learning and personal development in such a short time is simply astounding. Yet, to truly actualize its full potential, it’s essential to give our mind time to rest and reflect. And this may just be the Achilles heel of a one-year MBA programme – it is condensed to the point where there is no room for that reflection to happen. Therefore, despite (or perhaps because of) our busy schedules, it is vital to create empty spaces where reflection can occur, so we can process our experience and grow from it.
The break restored my vigor and made me realize the extent of my learning. Careful deliberation made me see what worked well, and what did not. There will be some changes in how I set my priorities this term. While I don’t feel quite ready to pick up the MBA pace again, I am eagerly looking forward to what this second term holds – among them two electives of my own choice, and a much-anticipated study trip to New York. Hilary, bring it on!Back to top of article