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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Will Abhay fail by doing MBA?

I had met Abhay two years back when he was in third year IIT, Mumbai. He was confused because, despite his valiant efforts in getting into IIT, he had realised that 'engineering' is not meant for him. I introduced him to the fundamental principal of achievement : that thinking competency (unlike physical competency) unfolds in unpredictable ways. He therefore asked me if he should do 'MBA' after graduation. I told him about the 'disadvantages of doing MBA immediately after graduation'.

Last week, Abhay's friend called me and told me that Abhay has got an admission in IIM, Ahmedabad and would be joining the course from this June. His friend jokingly asked him " Will Abhay now fail by doing MBA?" . This is an interesting question. If we engage in a thought experiment, and imagine different possibilities, we can answer this question logically. Let us divert and understand one of the basic principle of Work achievement: Find least resistant path of learning

Find least resistant path of learning of cognitive abilities 

Some work-paths unfold better, because they help the professional to sustain his learning in cognitive abilities far more easily, while some make learning very difficult. For instance, MBA, because it is about managing the work of other people, demands understanding of 'doing' work before one can understand the complexities of managing other's work.  I therefore suggest professionals to do MBA only after certain years of experience, because that enables them to understand the doing work before learning the management of 'doing' work. In other words, Engineering graduation> work experience > MBA is a less riskier path of learning because it generates fewer blocks to learning, it promotes layer-by-layer building of knowledge base.

On the other hand, some paths make it difficult to learn at the outset. For example the path of engineering> MBA > Work is such a path. In this path, the individual does not have a work experience before doing MBA. When one does MBA without having done the doing work, he is going through the motions of getting a MBA degree. Learning of MBA is wasted because it is patched up. Instead of building a person, it just creates illogical aspirations and goals !  Due to these difficulties, students consequently lose themselves in the jungle and find it difficult to find work-paths that will enable them to use their learnt foundation.

When learning is right, our cognitive abilities help us build a strong enough knowledge base to tackle real life problems. Key of work-achievement therefore is finding the right work-path that enables this learning.

Possibilities in Abhay's growth of cognitive abilities 

For instance, let us forsee the possibilities in 'Engineering' to 'MBA' path of Abhay and imagine the learning possibilities that are likely to occur in his path:

Possibility 1: For instance, Abhay, like most of the Engineers, may take over finance 'work-path' in MBA. This path looks attractive as Abhay will earn above-average remunerations on this finance path. But very soon ( I have observed this even after a year or so), Abhay's mind will start questioning about  'what has he done with his IIT degree'. Because Abhay has not 'utilised' his knowledge of technology, he will constantly feel that his cognitive abilities are 'underutilised'. His aspirations will play havoc with his mind. This 'feeling' will make Abhay change jobs frequently, further diverting him from his path of achievement. This happens because Abhay will be exposed to too many options before his mind is ready to choose these options wisely.

Possibility 2: Imagine another optimistic possibility. Abhay may find his the domain of Finance excellent for using his cognitive abilities . This happens with many individuals too. In this path, he will enjoy the money and also have the 'satisfaction' of using best of his cognitive abilities. With no background of accounts, what are the chances of his finding finance as his path of developing his cognitive abilities ?  It is anybody's guess.

Possibility 3: Imagine another optimistic possibility Abhay starts working in Finance and in his later work-life finds some 'purpose of life' and uses his money to channelise his work-life in a new direction. You will find many such professionals in real life. For instance, Abhay can find his path of achievement luckily like Rajiv or find meaning in his life like Narayanan when he went to Madurai. For instance, i have observed many professionals enter in the field of 'education' to fufill their purpose. Some professionals get into the 'VC' industry to help entrepreneurs. Some professionals mix their technical and finance background and find entrepreneurs who are innovating in a special segment which they are most suitable to understand. Some find their own childhood passion, say in cooking, and start a chain of hotels.But this is luck.

What can Abhay do now? 

In other words, Abhay has to depend a lot on luck to 'grow his cognitive abilities plus his emerging traits' in his work-life, because most professionals like Abhay have no understanding of how one develops one's abilities. Without knowing this, they are not thinking beyond tomorrow. For them only factors like jobs and salary only impact their work-path selection

But the science of achievement postulates that Mind affects achievement through three hidden factors: how we deal with uncertainty of producing results, how we manage aspirations and how we balance the type 1 and type 2 mind. Mind management is perhaps the least understood, and most under-rated factor of achievement that is not only ignored, but also avoided. Mind training is required not just to balance the work-life, but to achieve in the work-life.

Most professionals like Abhay ignore these important factors and jeopardise the long term usage of their cognitive abilities. As they are unprepared to face these consequences, they get busy in dousing fires. Instead of preventing fires and building their future, they are engaged in correcting their past actions all the time. They are busy in reacting, not responding. How can they 'build or create' their future when they are just occupied in catching up with yesterday?

Using the framework of achievement, what can Abhay do if he has already chosen to do MBA after his graduation? He can find out multiple ways of reducing the resistance of learning. For instance, Abhay can  think of all the possibilities ( beyond the top 3) in his life, and with the help of mentor, zero on the top three that may happen in his life. After identifying these, he can identify the blocks of learning on these paths, and be ready to deal with the situation, instead of reacting to the situation.

For instance Abhay can increase his probability of finding 'finance' as his path of excellence, by actively working on accounts from Year I of MBA. Or he may actively study the difficulties of professionals like him and actively equip his 'Mind'. Or develop his own parameters of job satisfaction, by actively working on them. There are multiple ways of reducing the resistance of learning!

We fail not because we chose a wrong path, but because we do not prepare adequately for facing the consequences of the chosen path. Abhay will not fail because he is doing MBA after graduation, but because he is not equipping himself to face the difficulties of growing his cognitive abilities in his chosen path. If Abhay therefore uses the framework of achievement, he may still find a way to succeed. But if he waits for the fires to emerge so that he can douse them, he is more than likely to 'fail'.

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