Hello Haasies!

At the end of last semester, a good friend of mine wrote a lovely article about me and put it onto the Haas Undergraduate Blog – compelling enough to move me to join the editorial team myself. (Thanks, Anncine!)

Another thing happened at the end of the semester – I was able to finally take a step back from that exhilarating, but exhausting, first semester that many of us are too familiar with at Haas.

Though Spring semester is well underway, I thought my first blog post might be a nice opportunity to talk about my successes and failures, and the lessons which I took away to practice this semester.

So, here is Part One of a miniseries of stories which I hope give you pause, and benefit you this Spring semester.

As the little brother of a former varsity pole vaulter, I’ve always loved watching track and field meets. On the big stage, one of my favorite athletes is Noah Lyles, the reigning world champion in the mens’ 100-meter and 200-meter sprints. Analyzing the competitors in a sprint race is interesting, no matter where they are. In fact, I think watching the athletes who perennially finish behind the podium may be even more insightful to understanding victory than the front runners themselves.

As they sprint down their lane, a sprinter’s attention is naturally drawn to other runners in the corners of their eyes, who are closing in on them and maybe even clearing them. In order to keep up or push ahead, a losing runner responds to this outside stimulus by straining. But in fact, overexertion is the enemy of racing, and can cause you to peter out.

Meanwhile, when watching some of Lyle’s greatest showings, you see a different race. I’ll use his recent 60-meter win against former world leader Christian Coleman as an example. He can start slow off the blocks. Through the first third of any race he’s in, he can even be near the back of the pack. But pace by pace, he shows time and again why he’s the world champion. Onlookers are treated to a beautiful display of top speed characterized by his ability to relax, even when moving at speeds of 23 miles per hour. There’s one more trait which ties his greatest performances together. In his standout performances, Noah keeps his eyes glued straight ahead.

Here’s where this analogy matters. Throughout my journey so far at Haas, I realize more and more often that I am on a track next to a cohort of some of the greatest young Business minds in our society today. As a transfer student, sometimes it can feel overwhelming to see the high-reaching capabilities and pedigree of our best and brightest. In an interconnected class, it’s easy for some to feel like they’re failing the eye test – I certainly felt that way. But over time, I’ve learned to shake the feeling of imposter syndrome, and here’s why.

I’ve overcome monumental obstacles just for the opportunity of a Berkeley Haas education, much less once at all. I can acknowledge that some students are less fluent in the “language of Business” than others when first stepping in the doors. The fact that this school has opened its wealth of knowledge to me despite this, means that I’ve been given all the tools to level the playing field from hereon. I actively seek out opportunities to build community and develop as a person, professional, and student. And as far as I’m concerned – that means I’m on track.

Immersing yourself in a wealth of experiences and peers is different than subjecting yourself to unproductive comparisons. Haasies, the fact that you have been selected into a notoriously selective program is proof alone that you have maximized every chance that came your way. So, let this be a reminder to maximize your own experience. Run your own race–and run it with blinders on if you need to.

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