I have to admit that I’ve put off writing this blog for a while. I’ve been wrestling with this topic because it goes against everything I previously believed about academia and personal success. It’s never easy admitting that you are wrong, but part of the Westminster MBA is identifying your weaknesses and learning from them. I’m also thinking about the new cohort who are just starting their amazing MBA journey with Westminster Business School and wanted to emphasise the importance of group work and collaboration.
I feel like I need to start by saying, “Hello, my name is Janine and I’m a perfectionist and a control freak.” At the age of six I was diagnosed with dyslexia and told repeatedly, by teachers, that I would never be successful in an academic setting. This made me so determined to prove them wrong, and although I had to work twice as hard to be half as good, over time I developed a love for reading and a passion for writing which helped me disguise my symptoms.
I slowly became obsessed with getting distinctions and once I mastered this, I had to be top of the class no matter the personal cost or affect on those around me. Yes, I learnt a lot, but what was I doing it for? To prove something to a teacher whom I would never see again and whom, most likely, doesn’t even remember me? I reflected on this and realised this was completely absurd.
When I first found out about the group work aspect of the MBA I was terrified, because I would have to give up some of my control and, perish the thought, listen to someone else’s opinion. At first my strategy was to take on the bulk of the work myself, minimising input from the group, my twisted logic justified this because we would all get distinctions and the group would have to do minimal work to get there, but it did not take long to realise that I could not have been more wrong.
Learning to collaborate with a diverse group of people has been one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt on the MBA. Before starting, I viewed conflict as negative, however I now know the value of conflict in moving ideas forward. I have developed invaluable tools in understanding and working with people who are different from me. I haven’t got distinctions in every group assignment, but in reality I know that I learned more from those assignments then the ones I sailed through with a first. Life and business is a team sport, and I can’t believe I was arrogant enough to believe I could take it on alone.
This absolutely doesn’t mean that I will stop striving for top marks, but I will not do this at the expense of others’ learning. In many ways I wish it didn’t take me a year to get to this point, but thank goodness I did and I can’t wait to collaborate with the new cohort on our first module: Board Level Research and Consultancy.
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