It’s been a while since I’ve been here, writing. It’s funny – I actually have so many more things thrown at me these days, things that I should be processing, mulling over, making use of by writing about them. But, without my 30-45 minute daily subway ride, without my morning runs in the park with JV, I seem to have lost a bit of my space, my momentum for reflection. As last semester wrapped up, in the midst of finals and just before holiday break, a bunch of us lady MBA candidates got together for dinner. Because a break from studying sounded nice and because many of us would be jetting off to new locations in January. During dinner, a classmate brought up a lack of reflection in the program; that critique resonated not just with me, but with many of us.
For me, part of the problem with blogging is that, as a communications person, as someone who thinks that words are not just strings of letters but tiny ships carrying meaning from me to you. I have problems just sitting down, pounding out a bunch of words and posting. I might do that with school work
sometimes often, because deadlines and “this must be turned in” force my hand. It’s a bit like the exercise thing - where unless I have an hour or two I won’t bother to exercise. When, in reality, if I only spend ten minutes running, it’s better than not exercising at all. I’ve gotten better at the running bit, so let’s see if I can get better at the reflecting & blogging bit.
But this reflection drought isn’t just about how I prioritize things. It’s a difference, in part, in the type of program I’m in. My friends pursuing Masters degrees in social work and psychology seem to have a more structured format within their program for reflection, since its viewed as core to their work and to them being effective in their roles.
But, of course, it’s not just psychologists who benefit from self- and group-reflection. It matters in business too. This HBS blog piece discusses the power of keeping a five-minute daily work journal. An MBA student who had to write daily journal entries, despite her busy calendar and “greater priorities,” for a B school class, notes that she went on to integrate this practice in all of her future work, because it helped give her greater focus, patience, planning and personal growth. Not bad for 5-10 minutes a day.
Running outdoors has always been a place and time for me to think things through. Sometimes, bouncing ideas off the friends I’m running with, and sometimes simply soaking in the sunshine or the winter wind or the mist hanging above the meadow in Prospect Park and reflecting. And it seems I’m not alone. Matan Rochlitz, a filmmaker, noticed how his thoughts reassembled to make more sense while he swam. Hypothesizing that exercise frees our minds, he recruited Ivo Gormley to join him in videotaping people in a park in London while running, asking them questions. Often quite personal questions. The result: a charming 10-minute film, that captures amazing truths from runners of all ages and sizes, along with the shifting landscapes of the park as the seasons change. It’s charming and worth a watch.
The holiday break brought me home to the NYC area. Back to trains and subways shuttling me from friend to friend to family. And since classes were out, I was able to cozy up to books and notebooks and pens and headphones. Timid to take the full dive into reflecting (what if I discovered something I didn’t want to discover?!), I did begin jotting down notes to myself (a true sign of a shift in my B school life – when I lived in NYC I carried tiny notebooks with me religiously, always jotting down thoughts and musings). And in these last few weeks I’ve continued to think about the things that still have me intrigued, that demand some attention. So, I hope to share my thoughts right here, in the next couple of weeks, about these things.
What’s been on my mind?
- Reflection (obviously)
- Mental health and higher education
- Are men’s and women’s brains really so different? And what that means for workplaces and MBA programs
- Africa is not a country, it’s a continent
If you have other ideas for exploration here on the blog, or want to co-blog with me, let me know.
In the meantime, though, let’s go Seahawks! #enjoythegame #puppybowlforever