On Friday, May 2nd, I will don the graduation robes once again and receive my MBA from Auburn University. Unconventional as it may be, at the age of 50 I decided to go back to school and get a Masters Degree in Business Administration. My business, like most, suffered greatly over the last several years. After struggling with the economic downturn that began in 2008, I looked at 2012 and decided I needed a personal big hairy audacious goal. After various painful rounds of layoffs made necessary as we tried to rightsize our company, and after spending the past few years waiting anxiously for any sign that the Great Recession was about to end, I was perplexed as I contemplated my goals for the coming year. Our youngest daughter had left for college so my dear wife and I were empty nesters...a strange place to be after so many years with girls in our daily life; add to that my struggling business, and I have to admit there was some angst. I needed something productive to work towards. Thoughts went to the MBA that I had started at FSU many years ago, right before daughters number 2 and 3 were born. Why not, I decided, and so the search for a program began and a few weeks later I chose Auburn's EMBA program. I liked their 21 month program because it included 5 weeks of residencies at Auburn with the balance being internet based.
It was a long journey with a significant time commitment. There were times when my "appointment" with my books and the latest 10 page paper at 5:00 a.m. was far from what I wanted to be doing! I persevered however, sometimes with a little good-natured ribbing from my three daughters, two of which were in college also. My classmates hailed from 16 different states, and except for one were much younger than I. The program enabled me to grow and exposed me to life outside of my little box. Today, I am thrilled to be done, and very glad that I took the journey.
So here it is the week of my graduation and I am reflecting a bit about achieving this goal. Back in 2011 there was nothing I could do about the economy. Rather than continuing to whine about things I could not control however, I decided to invest in myself. In hindsight I am so thankful that I pursued my MBA as I am confident that this adventure will serve our team and our clients well in the future. I would offer two tidbits of advice to anyone reading this...
- An investment in yourself whether you are 20...35...50...or 80 is always a good investment
- If perplexed always remember the Serenity Prayer composed by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.