When I was growing up, I read a story about a piccolo player. A master orchestra conductor came to town and he decided to practice with the largest orchestra in town. There were about 50 different members in the team, which included only one piccolo player. Right in the middle of the second practice session, the piccolo player decided to stop playing. He simply left the tiny instrument in his mouth and pretended he was still playing. The piccolo was the smallest instrument in the orchestra, and the player felt he was insignificant in the middle of the big drums, trumpets, tuba, and violins.
Three beats after he stopped playing, the master conductor brought the music to a halt and yelled, “Where is my piccolo!!?” The piccolo player raised his hand timidly and the conductor asked him, “Why did you stop playing?” The piccolo player answered, “I felt my instrument was small, and that I would not be missed.”
The conductor replied, “You are the most important player in this team. That is why you are in the front row. You determine when the whole group is going to transpose to the next key. Without you, our music will be bland, and that is why your notes are an octave higher than everyone else’ notes.”
You see, the piccolo player thought he was insignificant, but the master conductor who had being leading orchestra for over 50 years thought otherwise.
What does this have to do with MBA? I know this is not a music blog.
In the second week of September, 2015, I finally started the Executive MBA program at London Business School. We had our orientation at the London Campus where lectures started. One of the first lectures we had was Executive Leadership, which exposed us to the 360-degree feedback and the NEO personality inventory. My strengths and weaknesses were laid bare in front of me. It was an eye-opening, and scary moment when I saw my major weakness. This was something I had taken for granted for a long time.
In the process of completing the assignment that followed, I truly had a long period of deep self reflection, and I saw clearly how I had led my life with this weakness. I saw how many opportunities I had let slip because of this weakness. I tried to imagine what my life could have been if I had tackled this weakness, at least, five years ago. I had written a lot of essays in my journey towards getting admission to business school, but this was something I never thought of, and this was something none of my referees told me.
I came to understand that the little things we take for granted often shaped our lives in the long run. Nobody tells us and we keep living and thinking we are doing our best. Many of the people around me have often wondered what exactly I wanted to do with an MBA at this stage of my career. The driver who dropped me off at the airport even asked me if I was going for the degree because I wanted a promotion. My response to everyone who asked me was that I have a dream and I know there are things about me I am not aware of that may stop me, or slow me down, from achieving this dream. It became quite clear after the first week at school.
I have spent only one week at school and I feel as if I have already received knowledge worth 25% of my tuition. I can only imagine how the remaining 19 weeks are going to be.
Thank you so much London Business School. I have found my Piccolo.