As you dream of the corner office and the fancy title of CEO, what topic is often avoided? To achieve that type of "success", what has to give? Can you have the family, the pets, the friends, the spiritual connection, the great body and everything else you desire in connection with the success that most MBAs are stereotyped into wanting?
It's an interesting paradox to contemplate. Most people believe it is every MBAs desire to be the one at the top. What those people don't realize is that there are many people who come to business school to make a difference in philanthropy and on the world. I should know, I live with one of them. The other aspect of the corner office that is often removed is the extreme difficulty of balancing a demanding C-level position in Corporate America with the rest of life. According to Professor Clawson there are 16 different aspects of the balance wheel including Professional, Financial, Material, Recreational, Physical, Sleep, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual, Marital, Parental, Familial, Social, Societal, Political, and Ecclesiastical. Further, each aspect has a number associated with it from 1 to 10 and no one is capable of being a 10 on every aspect. A 10 for physical may equate to being an Olympic athlete or for professional, it could be a CEO of a highly visible company.
The reason I bring this topic up is that I took a class this quarter titled Tactical Leadership. The class was about influencing people. One of our last cases was on Bob Johnson, former chairman and CEO of Honeywell Aerospace. The case started out with a list of his professional accomplishments and by the end of the first paragraph stated he was lonely. When people visualize the life of a C-level exec, I don't think lonely comes to mind very often. It was fascinating to analyze the case and hear everyone's suggestions on what this guy should do to get out of his rut. Not to mention the CEO of UTC, George David, was sitting in on our class. His insights were even more spectacular from the standpoint that there are likely similarities between the two lives. A couple items struck me as profound that day, so I share them with you as something to contemplate.
1. Every 5 or so years, reassess. What are the end values? Where am I really going and why? Is this about reward, satisfaction, or security? Is it about awards or fame? Is it about business success or making people's lives better? (While there are not "right" answers, I think it's important to understand where you are and where you want to be.)
2. Businesses end and businesses change, eventually the business will run out on you. Thus, it's important to have other interests.
3. Relationships outside of work are crucial.
4. Understand from where you're sense of self-worth is derived. (Friendships, professional accomplishments, personal achievements etc)
5. The true value of a Darden MBA according to George David is that we're taught the process of thinking through problems under uncertain conditions.