This semester, I took a pretty incredible course at McGill – most surprisingly, perhaps, it was a Management course.
OH GOD. I’m doing a minor in Management for many reasons, and to be perfectly honest, I’m very judgmental of most of the faculty. Perhaps it’s based on the stereotypes that I’ve heard about all the management students, but it’s also very applicable when I sit in class: a lot of the students in Bronfman think they’re hot shit because they know how to balance a spreadsheet and calculate investment growth. A lot of them believe that because they’re in Management, they have clear job prospects and will make money, which too often seems to be their requirement for happiness.
As an artsy-fartsy idealist, I find this terrifying! Money is the last thing that I would expect to be the absolute requirement for my happiness. I personally measure success based on much more than my career. That’s why I enjoyed Karl Moore’s “Leadership in the Broader Context” course so much this semester. Based off “Total Leadership” by Stuart Friedman as a textbook, the course encouraged students to examine the four key areas of our life: home, work, community and self, and strive to reach a balance between them, rather than just focusing on the traditional work-life balance that assumes that they each should take up 50%.
We reflected on our core values and how they should be applied to our lives, as well as on different styles of leadership. One of the exercises suggested in the book was to write out a leadership vision – a short description of how we envisioned our future, based on our values. Mine is below:
Fifteen years from now, I “have my shit together”. Regardless of where I am working, I have helped to set a precedent for strong, active communities that support each other and grow: work communities that are safe and welcoming, and that value people’s differences and experiences. I have found a way to balance idealism with realism and I get things done when I need to.
I am happy. I am working in a job I love, with a team that respects me for my knowledge, kindness, perseverance, creativity and accessibility. I have a partner who I love and laugh with, one who reminds me not to take myself too seriously, and that I am worth it. If I have children, I am raising them in a supportive, warm environment that does not restrict their freedom and identity but still provides them with guidance and firmness when they need it. They are encouraged to explore and learn constantly, to foster strong relationships and respect everyone.
I have a Master’s degree, if not more, and am recognised and respected in my field for my academics; I also speak at least one more language fluently. I am in touch with my family and their needs, and I pride myself on knowing where my heart lies and where my roots are. I can and do check my moral compass daily and guide it back if I get lost.
(Ideally, I’m also in control of my health, but that’s a little harder to do…)
This class, beyond giving me a chance to ask brilliant leaders like Sheila Fraser (former Auditor General), David Segal (CEO of David’s Tea), Raymond Chretien (former ambassador to Paris and Washington for Canada) and Bernard Shapiro (former Principal of McGill) lots of questions, was exactly what I needed right about now in my academic career. It made me rethink the routes I want to take to do the things I want to do, and reconsider what it means to be a proper leader.
We had to write to run an “Innovation Experiment”, and try to target one of the four segments in our lives that we thought needed more work. I decided to focus on my community, and more specifically my more direct community of friends that I have neglected somewhat over the last year because of school- and health-related stress. I also wanted to connect with people outside my regular circles and push my boundaries to new communities. It worked! I rekindled some of my friendships and really refreshed our relationships, making both myself and my friends feel more supported and connected as a consequence. I also tried to make more friends in class and generally reach out to different people (including Management students!) so that I could keep a broad base of connections, rather than just one that focused on people in the groups I’m regularly part of. Lastly, I branched out; I went to a few events hosted by the McGill Entrepreneur Society and absolutely loved it! I met some fascinating people, but more importantly, I discovered that I have a passion for entrepreneurship, and I’m now possibly trying to start my own business. Who knew?
It’s been a busy semester, and it’s not done yet. I’ll post something else at some point about working during University, and how to make sure your life doesn’t just revolve around school. We’ll see what comes of the last few weeks!
Best of luck with exams, snarklings, and enjoy the lovely sunshine – God knows we’ve been waiting for it for long enough.