“You do what you are Jezzie”
“You mean you are what you do?”
“No, I mean you do what you are. You are born with a gift. If not, then you get good at something along the way. And what you are good at, you don’t take for granted. You don’t betray it.”
“What if you do betray your gift?”
“Then you betray yourself, it’s a sad thing”
Morgan Freeman as police investigator Dr. Alex Cross in an exchange with a “protg” of sorts, Jezzie Flannigan, portrayed by Monica Potter, in the movie Along Came a Spider, challenges her with a juxtaposition of a common phrase. “You do what you are.” You do what you are good at. You shouldn’t take it for granted.
This struck me as overwhelmingly applicable to MBA students. Top MBA programs tend to channel their students into traditional MBA-dominated fields like consulting and finance. But I hope and encourage you if you are on an MBA path to find what you are and don’t betray it.
At Darden, during a student’s first few weeks we focus our career development efforts on self assessment to help students discover “who they are.” Not take off your shoes; stare at the stars, self assessment, but a quantitative look at patterns in your life/career that describe you consistently and repetitively.
If you’ve done this type of self assessment, pull it out, brush it off.
So back to the beginning: is the sentiment “You are what you do” or is it, as assented by Dr. Cross, “You do what you are?”
I’m not sure, but as a friend reminded me on my Facebook wall, from that great early American philosopher: “I yam what I yam” Popeye.