As part of my course pack at UPEI’s EMBA program, I am currently taking Business 721 – Innovative Culture and Leadership. On a recent assignment we were asked to describe a personal or professional transformation and reflect on it. After I wrote it, I thought PEI entrepreneurs out there might find it helpful to read about my fear of failure and how I overcame it.
I, as most people have, been through many changes over the course of my life. I have gotten married, had children, been to places, met great people. When I stop to reflect on what transformation I could possibly talk about that had a significant impact on me personally, I would have to say it was the day I started earning an MBA at UPEI.
If someone were to tell me two years ago that I would be attending a Masters program at a University, I would have thought them insane. I don’t have a bachelors degree and am petrified of learning. My early attempts ended before my second year as I was too afraid to fail. I never had the self-confidence and when I earned a college diploma, chalked it up for luck and my entrepreneurial knack for maximizing opportunities rather than my own capabilities and intelligence.
After taking 7 years off to stay home with my children, I had to make a decision on whether to return to work or leave the public service permanently. So many thoughts crossed my mind, it was a big decision no matter which one I took. Finally I decided to return, only to find the public service had changed and not necessarily for the better (for me or them). People were stressed out, life was hectic with work and kids, and at a professional level, my education was obsolete and there were now no managerial opportunities for someone without a formal degree. I didn’t want to be relegated to a desk jockey job for the next 20 years!!
So in 2012 I started to consider applying for the MBA program. I heard the program did accept a small number of applicants who did not possess a degree but had sufficient work experience. I was the first applicant at UPEI to be asked to write the GMAT exam and I hadn’t opened a book in years, let alone a math based entrance exam! My family was so supportive and I remember a specific phone call from my sister telling me it was okay to fail. I remember all of this being something I just kept pursuing. I followed all the necessary steps, prepared for the exam, took a course in Halifax, applied to the MBA, wrote the exam and hoped for the best. I was going through this surreal motion and couldn’t believe it was actually me applying, actually me risking my self-confidence. What if I failed the exam? What if they didn’t accept my application? What if my fear of failure proved correct? What if I truly was dumb?
Looking back over the past year I am so grateful. For so many things. Sure I face a lot of difficulty still, challenges and uncertainty, yet I know now, through this experience, that I’m a good person. I’m a smart person. I am a person capable of great things.
People sometimes look for these huge transformations, earth-shattering changes that will completely revolutionize the world. I realize now that transformation is an internal process as much as it is an external process.
I may not be able to predict what comes next in life, but I know now that I have the resources to deal with whatever comes my way. More importantly, I realize that I had the ability to transform all along, it just needed to find a way out.
Transformation requires support, commitment and communication if it is to be successful. And sometimes, the success isn’t the outcome of the transformation, but the process of transforming in of itself.