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Shades of Gray

I had the hardest time coming up with a topic for a column this week. It certainly isn’t because nothing happened in my HBS life over the last seven days. Subarctic Survival, Shad manufacturing, TOM midterm, club soir‚es, company pitches, section elections… the list of fun goes on and on. And on and on and on…

Then it hit me. That’s exactly why I’m stumped. I’ve been buried alive in HBS. I don’t want to short-change the wealth of experiences and people here. But when is so much too much?

For each of my previous columns, inspiration came from outside HBS. Yes, I’ve been writing about my experience here: moving, study group, grades, etc. However, the insight that I wanted to share came from trying to explain something about HBS to an outsider.

For example, my brother thinks our flat grading scale makes our MBA is easier than his. First, I disqualified him from judgment because he chose his school based on proximity to a topless beach. Then I stewed over his opinion and realized the real bear here isn’t grades, but meeting our own expectations. Voila, lesson learned and last week’s column.

People who aren’t here don’t “get it.” They aren’t going through everything we are, so they don’t understand. They question. They push. They challenge the accepted norms and draw unexpected parallels and conclusions. They make you think.

I offer this assignment to everyone: call a friend you’ve lost touch with since getting to HBS. Tell them what it’s like to be a student here. They won’t 100% understand. But I bet you don’t either – at least not as well as you will after you hang up the phone.

October 15, 2002
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