Being prepared is a not always what it’s cracked up to be.  As I “get prepared” for our first journey to Shanghai- now only a day away- I am struggling between being checking all the boxes on my list prepared enough and keeping my mind open to the unknown as I enter this new chapter of my life ready to learn, grow and experience new things.

I have realized in the last few weeks that living by checklists and always trying to be perfectly prepared is not always the ideal.  After being a consultant for the past 5 years, I have learned how to navigate and conquer a checklist to prepare for a client presentation, a speech or a business trip.  Between managing client projects, traveling 50,000+ miles a year and working at a 15 person company, checklists have always been a necessary way for me to survive and have caused me to operate in a mode where surprises are not usually welcome.  Yet, I have learned despite how much preparation you put into something, there are almost always surprises. Many are pleasant surprises, some are bumps in the road, but both can produce unexpected and unbelievable outcomes and lessons. I have learned over the years that these surprise moments are when people, myself in particular, usually learn the most and are able to see of what they are made.  It is that pursuit of these experiences, without always relying on my checklist, that drove me to apply for the CCMBA program and are now driving my packing and getting ready to leave for China.

My name is Kyrsten Musich.  I am a 27-year-old Chicago native who was raised by a Danish mom and Chicagoan father and had always been taught that those surprises and unique experiences are what bring growth, excitement, and adventure. They are the stuff memories and life-altering epiphanies are made of- allowing people to find a better outcome in the long run.  Even when things go terribly wrong, which is the risk we all take walking out our front door each morning, we can learn, grow and reflect.  Our experiences at Duke in the next year and half will offer many of these great moments, stressful moments and extremely frustrating “I-can’t-do-this-anymore” moments, all of which will teach us how to let things go, pick ourselves up, and dig even deeper to reach our goals for the long run.

I have always been a person who pushes the boundaries to find growth and learning opportunities.  I tend to get bored if I don’t push myself and therefore have always strived to do too much, to see and do everything and to conquer it all.  That is why I decided to start this crazy journey with the rest of the CCMBA class of 2011.  I decided that in all my preparedness after graduating from Emory University undergrad, getting a job directly after and working hard of the last five years as a consultant, that I need to expand my horizons and add a few more surprises in my life in the form of international travel, learning new business principles, and meeting new friends from all over the world.  For one of the first times in my adult life, I made a big decision to take a step back from always being prepared and always chasing after the next level, salary, promotion to pursue a dream of mine in getting my MBA and traveling around the world.

The CCMBA program met all of the criteria on my checklist of my ideal grad school program.  My list included: A chance to go to a top University and have access to best-in-class professors, colleagues and classmates, to explore all the world has to offer.  And further, to teach me how to apply the learnings from that exploration to my career, providing me the opportunity to expand my foundation of knowledge and to make new friends from all around the world.

It has already offered me a learning opportunity by pushing me into a situation where I can’t know every detail or check every box.   Thus, as we embark on this first residency in China, I am extremely excited for this opportunity, nervous about what I don’t know or I have missed in the preparation materials, and find myself as ready as I can be to share this new learning environment with all my brilliant classmates and future friends.

See you Shanghai in a few days!

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