Back to School

The past twelve months have been especially challenging. My response? This week I started school again… this time at Harvard University. The Harvard Business School (HBS), the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) have teamed up to offer a unique program around business analytics. By Christmas, if all goes well, I will have earned a graduate certificate in business analytics from Harvard. Why? My friends couldn’t believe that I wanted to go back to school.

I like learning, thinking and interacting with interesting people about interesting topics. I often challenge myself to go in a new direction, to learn something new, to start something different. Usually, I do this deliberately, and sometimes it happens by accident. A few years ago when I started my small business to help local small businesses with their websites and web presence, I would have never imagined that someday I’d use the money I earned from that work to pay for this education. Just like that, I don’t know a few years from now what doors this program will open for me, but I know that I’ve never regretted setting a challenging, positive goal and achieving it.

I wanted to show my kids that I could get accepted into Harvard if I wanted that badly enough. A few weeks ago, I heard that five thousand people applied and only eighty were accepted. We’ll see if this encourages them to take bold steps and follow their dreams and their passion.

It’s crucial that kids also set goals (even small goals) and commit themselves to reaching their goals. Every time a goal is achieved they learn that they can, they become more confident in themselves and their abilities. It’s easier to say but tough to do – especially when they’re going through all of the transformations during their teenage years.

I learned a lot throughout the last twelve months. I learned not to give up, to put one foot in front of the other, and to show others that we can. Life taught me that even during our hardest moments we have tremendous strength to take the negative forces in nature and channel them in positive directions. As I watched my beautiful niece fight her fight, I learned how important it was never to let ourselves get discouraged.

During challenging times, I often think of The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen where the Baron pulls himself out of a swamp by his hair. This is not only possible but it’s usually necessary to wake up in the morning, put on a smile, and hit the ground running to make the most of today, the learn as much as we can, work hard, help those who need our support, and pack as much good and positive energy into the day as possible.

So why did I go back to school? To learn, of course…

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