Notes from KW / Managing Change: An Exercise in Not Losing One’s Sense of Self

Krystal Walker, MBA Class of 2014

A recent move unearthed a note I had written to myself the night before I started Stern. Concerned with the amount of change about to enter my life I made a list of 6 things I needed to do to maintain my sense of self. The list encompassed spiritual goals, as well as utilized tools to make sure I could increase the ROI on my b-school investment. Below is the list, ranked in order of importance, and a grade for my performance—this whole exercise feels like a personal CFE.

1. Church Attendance/Scripture Study: put this in place to make sure that I didn’t forget to develop my spirituality while enhancing my business acumen. Scripture study is a rarity. As for Church attendance, we’ll say I go 60% of the time. After fall semester first year, I just had to accept the fact that the likelihood of making 10am service after leaving the club at 4am, was extremely low. Grade C

2. Sleep: well seeing how I’ve been up since 1:30 am working on my FSA assignment…Grade D-…ehh D, I got a nap in between the hours of 9:30-1:30

3. Adequate time to complete home work, Grade C, See #2

4. Personal Organization- My current life motto is, “ If it ain’t on mu google calendar, it ain’t happening.” Grade B. I would have given myself a B+ if wasn’t for the fact that for that I spend the first third of the semester, relying on hearsay for when assignments are due.

5. Balance socializing with old and new friends- Grade D-, do I even have to explain why?

6. Exercise: Grade: B+. With very few outlets for stress, (have to avoid drinking, smoking, and drugs to maintain my grade for #1), exercise is as crucial to my existence as my loan refund. Recent events have led to me taking up running…

Despite doing my best to manage for the changes that bschool brings,  the one change I did not manage for is how selfish I’ve become. I can’t say that there is specific source for this change. Maybe I took Okun’s advice a little too literally? Maybe I’ve become a little too focused on being a leader, that I forgot about making time for the team? Maybe its a Pavlovian response to being burned one too many times be well meaning peers? Let’s just go and call it a combination of all of the above.  Whatever the source is, I’m sensing its effect on my demeanor, causing me to ponder if this is a trait that I need to maintain as a means of thriving in the business world. Because lets face it, there are benefits to being selfish. Just read the biographies of any one who has had a global impact, such as Steve Jobs or Martha Stewart, and you’ll find no shortage of examples of how self interest can be rewarding.  Hell, Adam Smith identifies it as one of the forces that guides the market economy.

Alas, the rewards of self interest, do not blur my vision its costs. Which is why I’m contemplating how to set limits on my self interest. Stern did offer some perspective on that during its 4 day ethics course known as “Professional Responsibility.” I now know that I should probably know where all my food is sourced from before I bite it, especially if its lobster. I also now know that given the choice between becoming a Taker, Giver, or a Matcher, the third option is the most successful…granted touting your virtue as a giver seems a little self serving… but I digress. I guess what I really wish I had guidance on was how to utilize self interest, without becoming  an egomaniac…Where is the line? Is that a bit too dramatic? I think not. Even I mean both Bernie Madoff and John Kerry were considered charitable at one point.

With that I’m off to the gym.

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