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an incomplete manifesto for growth

34. Make mistakes faster. This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.
– Bruce Mau’s An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

This spring I decided on a plan to apply to graduate schools for my Masters in Philosophy with the goal of going on to pursue my doctoral degree in Philosophy of Economics. Not only was I so very relieved to finally have some sort of plan for my life, but I was convinced that it was the right way to explore my passion for economics. It just felt right. Looking back, maybe the spring weather contributed with my elation. Well, after taking two classes this fall and doing some research on graduate programs, I’m not so convinced anymore.

That’s an understatement, though. Whether I’m not ready for graduate school, or not sure enough, or it’s just not for me, I just can’t apply now. I’m not ready to handle that type of academic stress again, and I feel like I’m back to the drawing board. Being back to square one is really tough, especially after having a plan for a while. When people asked me what I was doing with my economics degree I had something to tell them. I had an excuse for why I was at home, and some defined future. But I made a mistake. That plan was flawed. I’m re-adjusting. Have you had to go back to the drawing board before? Or had to scratch a plan you thought was the right path for you?

What I have to keep telling myself (over and over and over because I keep forgetting) is that making a mistake doesn’t really take you back to square one though. Sure this is setting me back, but I’m a step ahead of where I was before all of this. I know that this isn’t for me right now, and I’ve shut that door (for now) so I can concentrate on all the other open ones. (Whatever they may be)

1. Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
– Bruce Mau’s An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

I think the hardest part about being willing to grow is being willing to face your previous failures. Recognizing that you fell short, that you failed someone is a hard thing to own up to, but when we realize that, what is there to do but try to improve? We can’t change or control events that happen to us, but we can control how we react, how we grow, and how we become better people in spite of them.