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To Dare Greatly

To Dare Greatly

Many of the results are in.  Most aspiring MBA students who submitted applications this season know where, and if, they are going to business school. Some students will not get their wish – they will have applied to one or many schools, and were not admitted anywhere.

I believe that the act of applying is worth applauding. It’s a complex project, practically requiring a Gantt chart for project scheduling: take GMAT course, take GMAT test, visit schools, write essays, request transcripts, get recommendations and follow up, follow up, follow up. For those who really put their all into it, you know who you are, and you deserve congratulations.  Despite the official outcome, you learned something from the process.  Irrespective of the admit/deny decision, you are a stronger, more self-aware person for having gone through it all.

Making it through an ordeal is a worthy outcome.  I learned this by spending time with my friend Rich this weekend. He is an amazing guy – a master sailor who, last year, raced a 60-foot sailboat around the world, unassisted. Thirty boats started the race and only 11 finished.  It took him 121 days (4 months!), napping at  15-minute intervals, in the midst of gale force winds, ice gates, and autopilot failure. He was 58 years old at the time. He has had severe asthma since he was a baby. He’s one tough guy, and also the most humble guy I know.

He is an inspiration to me, when I think of my own challenges, and an inspiration to schoolkids world over who learned from Rich’s adventure on his website.

Curiously, Rich found camaraderie with the other skippers in the race – whom he was supposed to be competing against.  After one sailor, who was forced to drop out of the race because of a severely damaged mainsail, told Rich he was devastated and disappointed with himself, Rich sent him quote from Theodore Roosevelt, about failing while “daring greatly.”  It’s an important quote that  I would like to pass along to all those who might have tried, but did not succeed, to gain admission to business school, or who might not have landed that perfect job.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” T   Roosevelt

What a great quote!  Rich really believes it, and that’s why he’s such an inspiring guy.  As he has said over and over, less eloquently, but equally powerfully, “The important thing is to participate.”  I agree.

And if you’ve got the fortitude to try it all over again, there’s always next year.