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Carving out little wins as an MBA student

By Kwame Brifo, MBA Class of 2025
Thursday, February 29, 2024
Kwame Brifo headshot

Kwame Brifo, MBA ’25

What does victory look like to you? Is it inking a multimillion-dollar contract? Completing a four-mile run in less than 30 minutes? Or could it simply be the relief of knowing that you made it to the end of another hectic week?

For many of my fellow first-year MBA students at the Broad College of Business, the last one rings true. There are fewer things more fulfilling than wrapping up an executive lecture around 7:30 p.m. on a Thursday night, knowing that the week is technically over since we do not have classes on Fridays.

You know what else makes for a great little win? Being done with your five-minute presentation that you spent more than a few hours working on. Whether it went perfectly well or you had some areas to improve in, the joy of being officially done is worth celebrating.

Why do little wins matter? Because in my experience, the big wins, however you describe them, are not as frequent. If you are waiting for the next big thing to happen before you take time off to pat yourself on the back, you will wait a mighty long time. For all the craziness and rigor of the MBA program, one of my key takeaways has been to set aside time to count my blessings. It is so easy to get swept up in the whirlwind of student life that you fail to realize the many little battles you are fighting and winning!

Another reason to celebrate little wins is that nothing makes you appreciate a full-time job or internship offer more than celebrating the little stuff. You become more appreciative of certain things you once took for granted and gain a newfound appreciation for the things that carry weight.

In a way, it’s all about perspective. And perspective can take time to adjust — especially when you’re moving from the workforce into a period of education. You used to crush it with those work reports and projects. You used to be on top of your team, and now you’re celebrating barely passing a marketing exam? It all sounds strange and slightly mediocre, but being able to recognize your effort spurs you on to do more.

And what do you do when you’re not racking up the little victories and all you seem to be stacking are Ls? Remember that in every “failure” is a lesson. You’re learning what does not work at that moment. To borrow the words of my personal hero, Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Through every non-victory, you’re building capacity and resilience. When I go through periods of setbacks or disappointments, I lean on one of my personal mottos: “I can only get better.”

So, whether it’s turning in a stats assignment right at the deadline or catching the bus just in time to make it for your morning supply chain management class, give yourself some grace. You did it! Celebrate like you would a World Cup–winning goal and remember: a win is a win.

In Other News:

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First-year MBA student Lucas Ferro reflects on his experiences in entrepreneurship and the journey that led him to MSU.
Michael Lamach is the retired chair and CEO of Trane Technologies, with a BS. in Applied Engineering Sciences from MSU.
International MBA student Rishabh Singhal recounts his application and admissions process at the Broad College.