10 Tips for Getting into Business School — Tip 7: Daydream

By betsy On Tuesday, June 01 st, 2010 · no Comments · In

Welcome again to the 10 Tips series. Thanks to 85 Broads the networking group for amazing women, the series has been turned into a webinar. If you are a member of that august group, you can find them on the 85 Broads website, look for videos, and then Click on Jam Sessions. The PowerPoint will be up on SlideShare and I will have a transcript of the Q&A available.

Now down to the business of daydreaming.

Daydreaming is also good for you. Really. I know, you wished you could have told that to Mrs. Palmer, your third-grade teacher, who was always bringing you back down to earth during long division. But it is an effective source of inspiration for your essays and your story. (And it’s a great excuse for procrastination, um, err, processing, but please don’t let it get out of hand.

Daydreaming Inspires Insight
Daydreaming serves a purpose. It helps you generate ideas, conceptualize stuff that may just be a feeling, and helps you find new and unusual ways to solve complex problems. Research shows that daydreaming allows the brain to make new associations and connections. Neuro-psycholgist Dr. Malia F. Mason, daydreaming expert argues,

“By allowing your mind the freedom to roam, the chances that you’re going to have an insight are much higher…Daydreaming builds on this fundamental capacity people have for being able to project themselves into imaginary situations, like the future. Without that skill, we’d be pretty limited creatures.”

No wonder she is an expert on decision making and teaching “Managerial Negotiations” and the core leadership course at Columbia Business School!

Daydreaming helps you imagine possible worlds. This is why I recommend that potential MBA candidates look over the application essay questions well in advance to let your mind explore the possible answers you may not even know about. As Dr. Mason might advise: project yourself into the future! Application questions are deliberately open-ended, with the hope that you do some creative exploration before writing. And what better way to do that exploration but daydreaming?

See Yourself in the Future
How about those daydreams when you were little? Some of them may not feel so farfetched now, and they may have led you to where you are today. Every application has a short- and long-term goals essay. I encourage you to reverse the order the question – switch it around to your long and short term goals. When you daydream about your long term goals, do you see yourself as head of the World Health Organization announcing that AIDS has been eliminated? Are you the head of the Senate Banking Committee? Or are you running your own private equity firm?

Daydreaming allows you to think big without having to fill in all the pieces yet. This part is about your destiny. You don’t have to have every little detail right – how can you? But you do want to be able to show that you are able to come up with creative solutions. Because after all, tomorrow’s business leaders need to have creativity to solve some really really big problems.