My break had nothing to do with business matters. Here, though, are some insights tangentially related to things I did in the last month (“insights” may not be the right word; maybe “deepening of previous insights” better hits the mark):
1) Place is important: where you are determines a large part of how you feel. As a cold weather lover, I immediately noticed my mood change when I took two jaunts up north, to New York and Chicago. I also spent less than one quarter of my time in my apartment which sits directly next to I-35 and drinks in all the noise thereof. As a prospective MBA applicant, consider how your environment will affect you. Most people, unlike me, prefer sunny weather and heat, in which case Austin is the spot. Even then, understand that your two- or three-day trip down here will never be enough to grasp the city’s neighborhoods. Once admitted, if possible, come down here early and check into an extended stay hotel for a month or sub-lease through Craigslist until you have the time to mosy through Austin’s numerous locales; don’t rush into a lease. I only recently discovered that East Austin is not the South Side of Chicago I was told it was; fortunately, I can break off my lease and move into this cheerier, colorful neighborhood that has nice, newly-paved roads and palm trees planted along E. 7th and no noise. This will significantly increase my happiness. When I was in Chicago and New York, I roamed around looking for places I might live if I moved there and I noticed that I’m really pretty bourgeois. Scuzz and trash don’t strike me as creative and artsy. Rusted steel girders on the El are less charming than an eyesore. Everybody’s different. But give yourself the time to explore and avoid being drawn in by what your friends, parents, or a real estate broker recommend. If it only feels okay in the dressing room, you’re going to hate it later. Conversely, living in the hood, in spite of the warnings, may be your thang. Maybe I just like the proximity to an airport, the feeling that the neon lights of Bangkok and Tokyo are only two miles and sixteen hours away.
2) Get a dog. My parents adopted one after I left home ten years ago to fill the love void. My initial distrust of this Buzz Lightyear turned to affection. I took care of him over break while the parents were away scouting retirement options in Ecuador and frankly, it’s great to have someone who thinks you’re the shizznit in exchange for chicken.
3) Arnold Schwarzenegger taught me everything I need to know about business – does the title refer to explosive showdowns or his career? I can’t tell, but count on it, I’ll be the first into The Last Stand. Lessons: have no shame, you’re never too old for mini-guns, and public office is no reason to stop blowing things up. And second families may force you to take on negative NPV projects.
4) Get up early to get work done – “No man who rises before dawn 365 days a year fails to make his family rich.” Break gave me the opportunity to rise around 5 fairly often. Invariably, that first upswing of work accomplishes more in, say, three hours, than an eight hour shift will when you commence work at 9. Your body’s natural rhythms are powerful. I will continue riding the wave. Now some gripers out there will moan and howl the usual about “Oh, but I’m not a morning person” and “Oh, but I just don’t want to work then,” but I assure you, if you get up early for a week, your body and will will get in line. Your brain is designed to perpetuate the status quo because it’s comfortable. Sit through twenty minutes of that morning fog though, and you’ll be up and running. There is absolutely nothing better in all the worlds of sobriety and inebriation than sipping your coffee at nine o’clock knowing that you’ve already done everything that needs to get done for the day. Welcome to Marlboro Country.
5) It’ll never all get done, so chill out and be happy with what you did do - if He could’ve just gone seven days, maybe we’d all have rocket packs and laser guns. So it is. I did a lot over break but in the end only finished about 50% of what I had planned. No biggie. The horizon will always retreat, but it’s important to turn around and see how much ground you’ve traversed. It is possible to get it all done momentarily, but just when you thought you’d stepped on the neck of your job list and fatalitied it, chaos re-intrudes and re-animates the list and the task mill produces another job. But I did hack my way through a lot of the job-briars I faced at the beginning of break and that’s enough. Sooner or later, you have to just relax and go see The Last Stand.
6) Too much break is no good - a month is enough. Let’s get to work. Now who the *@#! makes a 26-page syllabus? That’s right, Cochise. School’s back in session.