Commitment is the key to learning

At the fag end of my MBA, having had enough of finance courses and the hyper-competitive MBA crowd, I wanted a short break from the rat race.

So I signed up for ‘History of Western Classical Music’, a course outside Wharton, offered by the music department.

The instructor would start every class by playing a composition — from Gregorian chants to Mozart and Wagner — which would then be gently deconstructed.

The course was amazing but required some effort. That triggered my competitor-rat instincts and I thought — this is unfamiliar territory; it is not math or finance. A distinction grade will require real hard work. Why risk the ignominy of just a passing grade?

So I rationalized, “Let me just audit the course. Without exams and grade pressure, I will learn and enjoy even more!”

You can guess what happened next, right?

Once I changed the course to audit, my seriousness plummetted. Now, the course was a luxury, not a priority.

I still loved every class but I was just dabbling instead of going deep. Today, I am vaguely familiar with Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, but I missed so many of its nuances!

Learning anything is hard. And the only way to do hard things is to seal all escape routes.

Burn the boats. Commit fully. And then see the magic happen.

Else, you will miss the magic. I know because I once did.

– Rajan

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