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Fridays from the Frontline: MIT Sloan MBA Student, Veteran Discusses Humility and Success

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It’s Friday, and once again we’re bringing you insights straight from current MBA applicants and students as part of our Fridays from the Frontline column. Our contributor this week, MIT Sloan School of Management second-year Brian Kirk (pictured above, second from left), knows his fair share about the frontline, both figurative and real, having served as a U.S. Navy submariner prior to business school.

In the post that follows, he offers some incredible insights about humility and its impact on success, drawn both from his time at Sloan and his military service. Worth the read. Kirk and other leaders of the MIT Sloan Veterans Association just hosted Veteran’s Ambassadors Day, a day of programming and activities for prospective MBA applicants from the armed forces. They are planning a second Ambassadors Day in the spring, so if you are an active duty service person or veteran considering business school, check it out.

As always, we welcome the contributions of other current MBA students and applicants, as well as alumni! Please email Jeanette or Marianne if you would like to add your voice to the mix. Many thanks to Brian Kirk for this week’s inspiring post.

This post has been republished in its entirety from MIT Sloan’s MBA Student Blogs page, which features contributions from its full-time MBA students. 

Humility at the Core of Success

“Humility leads to clarity. Humility leads to an open mind and a forgiving heart. With an open mind and forgiving heart, I see every person as a superior to me in some way; with every person as my teacher, I grow in wisdom. As I grow in wisdom, humility becomes more my guide. I begin with humility, I act with humility, I end with humility.”
– Eric Greitens; Author, Former U.S. Navy SEAL

Veterans Association Co-President Brian Kirk, MBA Class of 2016

After a wonderful first year at MIT Sloan and an interesting internship in management consulting, I am, without a doubt, ready to roll up my sleeves and dig into year two of my MBA. As soon as I stepped back on campus, my heart soared. I couldn’t control it; I was just excited to be back. MIT Sloan has become such a special place to me, one where the sky is the limit; where everyone wants to impact others and the environment in meaningful, insightful and transcendental ways; and eternal optimism is not just a mantra, but a way of life. I breathe a little easier when I’m around other Sloanies, I smile a little more and I sigh a little less.

I recently had the distinct privilege to be a “pilot”—a structured mentor for a group of first-year MBA students during their MIT Sloan orientation. I was asked to share my insights on how to best succeed during the first semester as they learn to operate as a team and provide recommendations for how they might best flourish as individuals and a collective.

But how do you quantify the “secret sauce” that makes MIT Sloan so unique? What actionable advice could I offer my classmates that would help them through the semester? Reflecting on my experiences as a U.S. Navy submariner, my summer internship and my time at Sloan, I realized that, at its core, the defining characteristic of MIT Sloan and every other successful team that I have ever led or worked with is humility.

Humility is at the core of Sloan culture. When asked to describe the student body, “humble” is often the first word my classmates offer. I couldn’t agree more. Every day in the classroom, I am surrounded by incredible young people who have all positively and irreversibly changed organizations for the better, yet there is never an air of pretentiousness or a feeling of entitlement. My peers share their stories and insights so that everyone can benefit from their experience and invite others to challenge their ideas to everyone’s benefit. Everybody recognizes that the most meaningful part of our MBA education is learning from one another, and to do so, I believe we approach every conversation, case study and coffee chat with an unrivaled sense of humility.