Don’t let other people’s judgement decide your life

In the 2nd year of my MBA at Wharton, I asked a finance professor for advice on landing a job with a private equity fund. When he learned that I had only worked as a cop, he told me bluntly – “With your background, it will be very difficult.”

I was dejected but since I already had an offer from McKinsey, I accepted it and moved on. In many ways, it turned out to be a great move but in retrospect, I believe that my finance professor was wrong.

In fact, a year after joining McKinsey, a PE fund did make me an offer even in the midst of a recession. Back then, when I spoke to my professor, the economy was booming. Had I reached out to a good number of investment funds, I think I had a good shot at landing a job.

But this story is not about job hunting – it is about letting other people’s judgment decide your life.

My professor was not stupid – he was one of the sharpest guys in Wharton’s finance faculty. And he meant well – he wasn’t trying to sabotage me. But his opinion was the conventional wisdom.

Conventional wisdom isn’t always right or wrong – it is just the average opinion.

This is the only time I let someone else tell me what I could or couldn’t do.

My point is not that we should not seek advice from others or become delusional. But since nobody knows how far you can push yourself, how can they tell you what you can or can’t accomplish?

Whenever you have to take a major decision, be objective, be grounded, but don’t let an opinion poll decide your life’s course.

It is your life. Take responsibility and bite the bullet. We can’t outsource our life to others.

– Rajan

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