Application #8: Pride and/or celebration

Completing my interviews, and submitting the “Post-Interview Reflection” for Harvard, effectively marked the end of my MBA application process. Nothing else was left to affect my chances! In the following days, I felt both energized and drained at the same time. The waiting game started, and I set myself into “zen mode”. I looked back at the incredible amount of work I was able to add to my already busy life, and felt immensely proud of it. At the same, I prepared myself to accept any outcome.  [Side note: how you should interpret this series of posts on the application process.]

I was a very good student during my undergraduate/graduate years, with an impeccable track record in all courses. I would often find myself in the situation of consoling a friend, who did not perform up to his/her expectations on test day. The answer I would often get back was “it’s easy to say that when you got the maximum result!”.

I always disagreed with that statement. The reason is that my benchmark has never been my result per se, or even worse, the result of other people. I would only feel disappointment if I knew I could have done better in striving towards that goal. That is why I have always set the bar very high in my preparation, since everyone is able to plan it and control it. The execution has always an element of randomness in it, and every “performer” of any kind needs to accept this fact. How many athletes have worked hard for 4 years to be in the best possible shape at the Olympics, and then something unexpected went wrong during race day!

Achieving a result not in line with my preparation only happened a few times in my life, but in those occasions I felt an enormous peace within me. My motto has always been “you can try the best you can, the best you can is good enough (pre-set Google search if you do not recognize the quote!). Chances of admission at a top Business School are by definition against every applicant, even the most qualified one. So this is exactly the approach I have taken, as in every other challenge in my life.

After the end of the process, my mind was at peace because I felt I had climbed another mountain, regardless of whether I would get the credit for it. And this is exactly the sense of pride that I hope every applicant will feel as well, even if unfortunately the application process will result with a “no” (or, technical term, “ding”).

This pride was followed by some low-key but emotionally intense celebrations, in particular a very special Christmas dinner with my family! I also made sure to say a sincere “thank you” to my family, girlfriend, close friends, and everyone who contributed to the process. They deserved it.

This post is the end of my long series on the application process. I tried to be as comprehensive as I could about my application experience, but I am sure there are details I forgot to mention. So please comment or email me for any questions.

Let me conclude with a picture that has already become historic in my life. This is me after 24 hours which I will never forget, when I first received a call from the Dean of Admission at Stanford GSB, and I then read “the answer is yes” on the Harvard Business School website. I thought back of a little boy starting primary school in a minuscule town in Sardinia 23 years earlier, and all the long way (geographical, personal and professional) I had come since then. And I felt that there was ten times more road to cover, and that the best was still to come.

The End – (or – The Beginning -)


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