Last night, Kimi and I watched Ender’s Game again (it’s a good movie, give it a chance!) and it brought back memories of my time at Officer Training School, back when I was a wee lad of 25 years. It seems so long ago, but at the time I remember it was a really formative experience for me, and at the time it was the most significant challenge I had ever overcome. I remember how hard it was the first two weeks, with the 5 AM to 11 PM schedules, no caffeine, and the firehose of information.
I don’t think the older, prior-enlisted officer trainees had the same feeling at all, though. For them, this was just a repeat of prior experiences that they had at boot camp and from various Air Force training schools like Airman Leadership School and the Non Commissioned Officer Academy. As a young ‘non-prior’ I had a lot of catching up to do in a short amount of time, but I listened intently to what the older folks had to say and I eventually did well. I got the “most improved” award at the end of that experience, which I guess I’m sorta proud of. I’m fully aware that it’s kind of like saying “you really sucked in the beginning, but you don’t suck as much anymore!”
Now the roles have been somewhat reversed and I’m the guy on the older end of the MBA spectrum. I know I’ve had some amazing experiences and a ton of leadership training, so some of the material is going to be old hat. However, I’m putting on the ‘beginner’s mind’ again so I can get the most out of this experience. I think the Foster MBA program will do a good job in further refining my leadership skills and building on what I already know…not just from the academics but from the people around me. While I can hang my hat on 8 years in the Air Force and some high-stress situations, there are plenty of other people that overcame tremendous leadership/personal challenges. It’d be a waste of my time to think that I can’t learn from them.