Compass pointing to the word career. Note from Art: every year, I share my thoughts and guidance via this blog to the most recent group of MBA graduates. (2015 Graduates, It is Time to Rededicate to Learning) As both a management educator at the graduate level and a long-practicing executive and coach, I feel duty bound to offer encouragement to build upon your hard work of the past few years. 

Congratulations on your accomplishment! After several years of putting everything on hold as you navigated your day jobs and occupied classrooms and stared endlessly at screens, it is time to reclaim the your life.

Gone are the sunny Saturdays spent with your nose buried in books while your family and friends carried on without you. You can relax a bit during Sunday nights instead of locking yourself away until midnight working on the paper due Tuesday. And, there are no more group calls and meetings soaking up your evening time, as you prep for yet another presentation.

In a few years or more after the glow has worn off of your accomplishment today, you will look back at this phase with a bit of nostalgia as you recognize it for one of most stimulating experiences of your life. You will not miss the grind, but just about everyone who lives through this experience comes to view the time spent learning, thinking, collaborating and being exposed to new ideas, as a very good time in their lives.

Yes, congratulations on having the fortitude to finish what you started. Spend some extra time with your family. Play some golf. Push your old texts out of sight or clear them off your your e-reader. It’s time to recharge, reflect a bit and then get on with life and learning.

Taking Stock and Looking Ahead:

While the world has not shifted on its axis now that you have completed your degree, you have every right to be excited about your future. Here are a few thoughts to consider as you reflect on the completion of this phase of your life and prepare to begin the next phase.

  • Finishing your degree program while navigating the complexities of work and life is a test of fortitude, and you passed. You will face many more of these tests in your future, however, success follows a pattern of the right behaviors and you have already imprinted this pattern on your mind.
  • The degree today is less about arriving at a destination than it is gaining admittance to a new set of challenges. Yours says: Admit One. Pursue these challenges with zeal.
  • The world is as challenging or more so than in many generations. And like the distance runner who complained to his coach that he was tired from running high in the mountains while it was snowing and sleeting and freezing, you should remember the words of the coach. “You’ve been training harder than anyone in the world. You will need this training to win the race.” While others trained with you, you and your peers are now armed with the latest and greatest tools in management thinking to help us all navigate the storms ahead.
  • You have an opportunity to redefine management and shape the form of leadership necessary for success in a complex, volatile world. This is an era for management innovators and leaders grounded in strong values and fierce determination to do right by others. Do not squander this opportunity.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

You can choose to chase just the money, but take it from those who came before you, the feeling at the end of that race is hollow. And pay no regard to the people who suggest it is impractical to chase a dream. Use this time to refresh old or define new dreams and much like you set out to win the day and earn your degree one class session and one assignment at a time, start moving towards your future.

Get the latest e-book (free) from Art: “A Bold Cup of Leadership Caffeine: Ideas to Stimulate High Performance.” 

See posts in the Leadership Caffeine™ series.

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Art Petty serves senior executives and management teams as a performance coach and strategy facilitator. Art is a popular speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.

book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.