‘Only the unknown frightens one. But once a person has faced the unknown, that terror becomes the known.’ (Abridged - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).
‘How can you know what you’re capable of if you don’t embrace the unknown?’ (Esmeralda Santiago).
‘It is the unknown that excites the ardour of scholars, who, in the known alone, would shrivel up with boredom’ (Wallace Stevens).
In quoting the above and resonating with such, I am certain I speak not just for myself but for most of my classmates who have taken the decision to embark on a journey that will broaden their perspective as leaders and provide an enriching experience to be cherished for years to come.
Our journey to our destination, Saïd Business School, tells a tale of an African, an American, an Australian, an Asian and a European, all coming together to navigate their way through a year-long Executive Diploma in Organisational Leadership programme. The richness in the diversity of the group speaks alone for itself here. Added to this, what better place to convene than the beautiful city of Oxford? With its immensely rich history steeped in the beautiful architecture of the buildings, the quaint cobble stone streets, the silence of the canals and the hustle and bustle of eager scholars.
This journey beckons those who seek a change to the monotony of their perspective as leaders, those who seek answers as to how they can make things better as leaders, those who seek answers as to how to prepare themselves for the role of leadership, those who seek to evolve through the process of change within an organisation and those who welcome engaging with their fellow scholars and embracing varying perspectives on the subject matter.
The first day of any new experience comes with a certain anxiety; ‘what if I don’t connect with anyone?,’ ‘what if the content is too much?,’ ‘what if I have made a mistake and taken on too much for the year?’ As we took our seats, with our names boldly written out to identify who we are, and greeted our neighbours, it slowly dawned on us that we are all in this together and are here for a more common purpose than we think.
The immense support provided by the business school staff has made the start of the journey that much easier. Our professors, with their immense fountain of knowledge on the subject matter, have commenced the process of challenging us on our thoughts, our approach and the way we see things, the engagement so far has been very enriching.
On a personal note, the journey that comes with embracing the unknown is all about sharing this experience with those who are in it with you. My classmates embody a balance of thoughtfulness, intelligence, curiosity, and ambition that I am grateful to witness and also be a part of.
Embracing the unknown is a journey of learning, adventure and fun. I hope we all make the time to find our balance and embrace all three, learning, adventure and fun, along the way.