First, listen to this song by Lupe Fiasco, and think about what it means to you to “level up.”
When I applied for Seth Godin's altMBA I had a pretty solid idea in mind of what I wanted to accomplish, what themes I wanted to explore, and what narrative I wanted to explore them through. And then as soon as I was accepted everything surrounding what I wanted to accomplish changed beyond my control.
For the first part of the program I stuck with the themes and the narrative I’d already had in mind and ignored the reality of the changes that were occurring in that world—my workplace. Then a funny thing happened. By the last week I was beginning to recognize that something was also changing in me. I was finally (and I say finally because I was definitely stuck and maybe even in denial) able to let go.
I changed my mind. Not about what I wanted to accomplish, or the themes I wanted to explore, or the narrative I wanted to explore them through. I changed my mind about staying stuck.
Proceed to the next level
We talked a lot about leveling up in the altMBA, but that’s a very difficult thing to do when you’re in quicksand. During the last week of the program I got in tune with another narrative I’d been telling myself that was keeping me in the proverbial quicksand. I was telling myself that things staying relatively close to the same in my workplace world was a small possibility, that things were going to change but not that much. I don’t even know if I was telling myself that because I believed it—I think it had a lot more to do with it being a comfortable story to stick with. Then one Thursday evening, reality finally hit me like a ton of bricks. Nothing was going to stay the same, and that would compromise my goals if I allowed it to.
Over the course of the altMBA I gained the confidence to make a good decision that was a long time in the making (and I’m sorry that I’m being a bit vague—it’s on purpose, because I have to be). I learned that sometimes you can let go without giving up. And I learned that if you want to level up, you need to be good at recognizing quicksand—the narratives you tell yourself that keep you from advancing.
I was able to pull myself out of my quicksand, I’ve confronted my ghosts and devoured them, and now I’m ready to proceed to the next level.
This post was first published during my last week as a student in Seth Godin's altMBA. You can view the original here.