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Kinda Like Ironman Hawaii

Have you ever met a triathlete who was pushing themselves in an effort to get good enough to go to Ironman Hawaii?  I’ve met a few men who chase this dream.  Surprisingly, these guys are pretty normal: they have jobs, wives, kids and mortgages.  But they give up their free time in nights and weekends to train.  They push themselves, make themselves stronger and better.

And for what?  Not one of these men is ever going to be good enough to win Ironman Hawaii.  Not ever.   By their own admission, there would have to be some sort of catastrophe that hit the front runners before they’d ever have a shot of winning. They’re just training to get to the race.  They train to get good enough to compete at a world-class level.  Their dream isn’t to win, it’s to compete in the most grueling race known to that sport.

I am no athlete.  The chances of me ever discussing my training regimen for an athletic event are the square root of zero.  So why in the world would I mention it?  Because I just completed my version of training for world-class competition.

Just a few minutes ago, I completed an application for Harvard Business School, pursuant to a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior, with an emphasis on Psychology.

Ok…. some of you are probably saying: WTF? Right?  Well… let me explain.

1) Let’s just get this straight.  I don’t expect to get admitted.  I just wanted to compete and fulfill a lifelong dream of putting in a good, strong application. Being good enough to compete in the big leagues.  Even if I am not a winner.

2) I vowed never to rack up more educational debt.  And I wouldn’t be breaking that vow if I get in. If a person is admitted to HBS for a Ph.D., he/she doesn’t have to pay.  Due to the generous HBS Endowment, students are guaranteed to be fully funded (tuition + stipend) for 4 to 5 years.  I put myself in $100K of educational debt for my previous degrees.  Thankfully, the house sale enabled me to pay that off.  I don’t intend to make that mistake ever again, and I never recommend submitting to a bunch of educational debt to anyone else.

3) If I get in, I don’t intend to stop working. I have built my strategic consulting practice to a place where I am in an unusual position: I telecommute for major client projects and rarely have to go onsite.  Thus, I could continue unabated.

4) If I get in, I’ll get over the weather.  It’s true: I’m a big baby when it comes to cold weather.  But I hear there are clothes, heaters, and something called an ice-scraper.  And, if all else fails, I’ll hop on a plane for the Caribbean.

5) No, I can’t just learn this stuff by reading books.  To me, the value of educational experience is the 2-way conversation. I’m an extrovert.  Running through piles of books may be necessary for academic excellence, but it is not a raison d’etre. Reading a book without a 2-way, meaningful, in-person dialogue is boring as hell for me. So, no Mr. Will Hunting, I don’t care that you’ve consumed an entire library.  How do you like ‘dem apples?

6) You may also be wondering: what the hell would you do with that degree?  Well…. I’d like to be a Professor and continue to be a business consultant.  A couple of weeks ago, I did a stint as a guest lecturer in a Business School class.  I loved it.  So exhilarating!

So that’s that: I set a goal and completed it. I got 4 strong recommendation letters, wrote a kick-ass Statement of Intent, did all the other paperwork, dug up all of my previous grades, and took the GRE. Along the way, I also got pretty far along with completing a book, proved that I have dyscalculia and got an official IQ score.  All of these were fascinating experiences too.

As of today, it’s done.  I’m proud of myself for completing the journey.  I doubt that I’ll get in… but you never will if you don’t try.  This was my attempt at world-class competition.  Don’t hold your breath for any additional positive outcome.  I’m not expecting it, but I’ll definitely post if I get any farther along in the process!


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