The Cohort Olympics were held last Thursday, the final major event in a breathtaking whirlwind of MBA orientation social experiences. I have been indescribably impressed with the energy of my peers, altogether a complete contradiction of the notion of MBA students as a bunch of straitlaced, bookish types intent on climbing the corporate ladder. Unfortunately for my cohort, as I once read on a No Fear shirt, second place is first loser. Of course, we’re all winners.
For me though, honestly, it wasn’t really about the Olympics. Between dizzy bat racing, egg-carrying, human wheelbarrows, and a beastly tug-of-war competition, what actually stood out to me most, or I should say who, was a second-year MBA student (I presume…hopefully not just a strange self-amused street visitor) whom I shall forever hereafter refer to as the Jolly Blue Giant.
This gentleman was indisputably over 6’5 tall, he wore a trucker cap that was still cool five years after the Von Dutch fad, he sported a calf tattoo that demotes me to being only the second prominently tattooed student, and most importantly, he was clad in an amazing blue tee that read “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.”
Needless to say, that phrase, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, will stick with me for a while. Yes, it’s true…in context, there is not a seed of profundity in such a shirt, and yes, it’s true that I’m committing that most heinous of comp lit crimes, elevating a perfectly funny scrap of anti-culture onto a dais of significance, but the fact remains…what a great motto.
Several years back, I saw the movie Yes Man with Jim Carrey, and though all my friends tell me they can’t even recall the film, I was actually inspired enough to go out and read the book it was based on by Danny Wallace. The premise is simple: a guy decides to change his life by saying yes to everything offered him. When I saw said shirt, what I saw was an even more perfect encapsulation of this idea.
Seeing the giant man in the blue shirt, it immediately occurred to me that this is probably the absolute best way to go about the next two years. I don’t know exactly what I want to do though I have some good ideas; I certainly don’t have the next four decades all figured out. Truly, if you listen to all the professors and counselors and read through all the amazing resources put at your disposal in the first few days of the program, it seems like quite a daunting hill you need to mount.
In fact though, it’s alright. No…more than being alright, it’s pretty great. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s Nicholas Cage having his moment right before he steals all your cars in 60 seconds. There’s a moment when self-doubt suddenly transforms into exhilaration and exhilaration becomes confidence. Richard Branson claims he’s started every business venture in his career in exactly this fashion. It’s a rare moment, because once you’re in it, it being the experience, the jungle of the MBA, you’re focused on your bushwhacking and there’s probably not much time for grand vistas and glorious surveys. But here I stand at the very beginning of an experience that everyone wise has said will pass so quickly and be over before I know it, and I have a chance to sit back for just a second, just a brief second, and look far out into the distance. “Exhilarating” really is the only word, the perfect word, to describe it.
So all in all, yeah, I got mine at the Cohort Olympics.
Postscript – I’ve since discovered that the phrase is attributable to the eminent Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother. This only serves to warm the cockles of my heart that much more.