Lately, I’ve been stuck.
I had ideas, but I couldn’t get them out.
I needed to make decisions, but I couldn’t reach conclusions.
Deadlines loomed, but I was unable to commit.
Then, something amazing happened.
This summer, I was one of 120 high-performers hand-picked from around the world to take part in the altMBA. Founded in 2015 by Seth Godin, the altMBA is a rigorous, collaborative, month-long workshop. Its thesis is that the education system is broken. In school, we’re taught to learn the “right” answers. Giving the “wrong” answer is the worst thing we can do. If you don’t believe that thesis, please watch this TED Talk.
But in life, how many of the questions we ask have “right” answers?
Should I start my own company?
How do I get unstuck?
How can I be more productive?
What kind of feedback is most useful for my colleagues — and for me?
How do I turn my work into my art?
How do I make something interesting?
Where do we go to learn how to answer these questions?
The altMBA challenges students in an intense process facilitated by digital tools and anchored by an immersive curriculum. Much like life, students rotate among teams (called “learning groups”), so they can explore what it’s like to work with different worldviews. Much like life, students receive difficult challenges (called “prompts”) and work together to solve them. Much like life, there are deadlines, and rules, and constraints. Much like life, the work is hard.
Unlike life, we learned how to provide deep, thoughtful, generous feedback to teammates. Unlike life, we celebrated the absence of the “right answer” and reveled in the joy of reaching “the best answer, right now.” Unlike life, we pushed hard against the edges of what’s possible. Unlike life, we ignored the Lizard Brain, that little voice inside you that tells you people will laugh at you, or judge you, or ignore you. Unlike life, hard is good.
We worked though concepts like how to make decisions and set goals in the face of ambiguity. We saw through the eyes of people who disagreed with us — and learned how to communicate with them. We offered and received feedback that challenged and provoked rather than scared and alienated. We asked simple questions that have big impact.
Who’s it for?
What’s it for?
How do you act as if you were the person you know you are?
In the end, the altMBA was as immersive as the Peace Corps. It was as breathless as that first drop of a roller coaster. It was as exciting as the first slice of wedding cake. It changed the way I view my work, the way I view other people, and the way I view myself.
I am no longer stuck.