I always thought I was fairly positive and optimistic, but looking back at some of my social media activity from the past 5 years, I see a cynical, bitter person sucking on life’s lemons. Before the MBA, I focused on problems and believed that the solutions were not up to me, that I was an innocent bystander and that it was pointless trying to do anything about it because I was just one person and my voice was not loud enough.

One of the greatest gifts I’ve received through the MBA is a fundamental shift in mindset; where I once saw problems I now see opportunities. Last week I was held up at a supermarket after the cashier made a mistake, I waited at the help desk for 45 minutes while the staff member tried to sort it out for me. I could see that this poor lady was doing her absolute best to help, so I smiled politely and reassured her that I wasn’t in a hurry to leave even though I was running terribly late for another commitment. It took so much longer than it should have done to solve what seemed like a really simple problem and while old me would have grumbled about it for the rest of the week, new MBA me thought about all the things that the supermarket could have done differently to solve the problem or even stop it from happening in the first place. Increasingly, instead of bowing my head resigned to the ‘fact’ that drama just follows me, I find myself saying, “There is an opportunity in that!” Whether that is a business opportunity or simply an opportunity to learn something new, I now see that this is much more valuable than believing that the world is actually against me.

It’s not that anyone has specifically taught me to be more enterprising but I think it is an inevitable culmination of everything I’ve learnt so far on the MBA. I often tell people that this course was the best form of therapy I ever had, for many reasons, but mainly because this change of perception drastically reduced my stress levels. Seeing problems as opportunities allowed me to feel like I was in control of what happened around me or to me and that I could have a positive, meaningful impact on the world if I put my mind to it. I’ve also learnt that my voice alone might not be loud enough but if I collaborate with the right people, together we can make a whole lot of noise.

It’s not that this concept was totally new to me in any way; we all know the saying about making lemonade out of life’s lemons and we’ve all seen the many TED Talks on this topic. Perhaps it’s because the MBA has toughened me up and improved my self-confidence or maybe it is because of all the creative problem solving we do, but a switch has definitely flipped in my brain and I’m excited about a future where I step out of the audience, and onto the main stage.

Thank you to Janine for writing this personal reflection on mind sets. It truly is fascinating to see the impact the MBA has on the way we view the world. Find out more about Janine’s course and the new Westminster MBA program. 

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