Goals, Changes, and Personality
Who I am becoming matters to me more than ever, but I am amazed at how the seemingly small choices can take my life in different directions, changing who I am. As David Bowie says, “Ch-ch-ch-changes. Turn and face the stranger.” The stranger is the one looking in the mirror, wondering just who it is that is looking back. The Dongshan says, “You are not him, but he is clearly you.” Who is this person?
He is the ever-changing composite of feelings, opinions, attractions, aversions, and thoughts that masquerade as a solid personality: the “me.” I have a hard time dealing with the slipperiness of personality. I can hardly grasp sometimes how much I have changed over the years. I no longer am certain that I will believe five years from now what I believe today. I used to see beliefs as far more substantial than I do now. If something is not provable, then it is a matter of personal opinion. And opinions can change on a dime.
I try very hard to be careful regarding the choices I make now because I see the power in even minor decisions. For example, I started business school in 2004 for some very simple reasons. First, I realized I lacked the skill set looked for by employers. Every job posting looked the same: “must know Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.” My response was, “Oh crap. Where am I going to learn those things?” Business school was the obvious answer and I was less than thrilled at the prospect. And second, my BA did not provide me with the confidence I thought it would.
And business school has changed me in many ways. I now have the computer skills I longed for. I also have the big-picture business vision that helps me see what needs to be done both short- and long-term. These are good things. However, I now see how amoral much of management philosophy truly is. I am not saying “immoral,” which would imply some sort of agreed-upon ethical standard that has been clearly violated, but “amoral,” with its ambiguity of right and wrong. I now understand how an entire generation of MBAs has been trained to focus on short-term goals and financial gain. Enron described their accounting methods as “aggressive,” which we now understand as simply “fraudulent.”
I am deeply cynical. I cannot pretend to cheer on corporate goals when I see the depth of corruption that is accepted as the price to do business. I cannot play the games. And, hence, I am unfit for many corporate environments. My MBA has, ironically, made me unfit for much of the corporate world. It would have been so much easier to have not gone back to school and whine about how quickly the world has changed. But, noooooooooo…..I had to understand everything. And this knowledge leads to understanding this other thing, which evokes curiosity about that thing over there, etc. There is no end. And everything I learn changes me a little.
Who knows who or what I will be in a few years? I just know that I am so much more careful about what I do and with whom I hang around. Little choices and obvious goals can have unforeseen consequences. My personality is fluid. I see that now. Those firm convictions can be undone with the right questions. Put into different environments, with different influences, our perspectives can change in subtle (or blatantly obvious) and unpredictable ways. I am not the person I used to be and there is no going back.