I just finished Seth Godin’s Poke the Box, an ode to initiative, innovation, and overcoming fear of risk and failure. In this short book, which Godin alternately and accurately refers to as a “manifesto” and a “rant,” he motivates the reader to just do it. Get going. In Godin’s words, “I’m merely encouraging you to start. Often. Forever. Be the one who starts things.”
I have had an idea percolating in my head for several months. But I hadn’t started. The idea has to do with MBA careers and MBA students, but inertia, and fear of rejection and failure were winning. I had more palatable and less honest excuses too: I was moving cautiously. I was busy. I had to check my email, Facebook, Twitter. Go to the gym. … You can probably imagine the list yourself.
As I finished Godin’s book, I decided to just do it. And I have started. I haven’t finished or “shipped” in Godin’s terms, but hopefully you will see the fruits of my start in a few weeks right here.
I poked the box. Now it’s your turn. While I am not sure Godin is a big fan of grad school or graduate business education, despite his MBA from Stanford GSB, Godin’s message is particularly pertinent for 2012 applicants.
Yes. You should start. This week. Today. Now.
Here are a few suggestions for 2012 graduate school applicants:
- Register for the GMAT, MCAT, LSAT, or whatever test is required of you, as well as the relevant prep course, if you haven’t already done so. You want to get the test out of the way and you want as high a score as possible. (See the video below “3 Action Items for 2012 Graduate School Applicants” from Eye on Admissions for a my mild rant on this topic and other suggestions to start your 2012 application. Now.)
- If you are an MBA applicant who will need to write a goals essay or someone who will need to write a statement of purpose for grad school, research your goal/purpose. Email 3 people to request an informational interview about your field so that you can clarify your reasons for pursuing graduate study and your intended path for achieving your goals.
- Assess your qualifications and begin to shortlist schools based on your goals and qualifications.
- I wouldn’t start writing application essays or personal statements yet, but I would create a file where you can jot down ideas for topics to include, notes from your informational interviews, and thoughts about schools and possible essays topics.
As I read Poke the Box, I also thought of the many programs, especially top MBA programs that ask applicants about times they took a risk or their response to failure. Understandably, applicants squirm when they have to respond to these questions.
Stop squirming. Godin has something empowering to say on this point too. “Change is powerful, but change always comes with failure as its partner. ‘This might not work’ isn’t merely something to be tolerated; it’s something you should seek out.” Failure is a tough partner to embrace, but embrace it nonetheless. It is Initiative’s significant other.
So whether you are facing memories of failure or fear of failure, just start. And consistently plow forward. Poke your box.
By Linda Abraham, Accepted’s founder and president.