Jeremy Lin’s Lessons of Perseverance

Jeremy Lin receives the celebrity treatment.

This time of year, many MBA candidates receive those notorious “ding” letters, letting them know that they will not be admitted. As an MBA admissions consultant, I’ve witnessed firsthand the frustration of clients who put time and effort into their applications and walk away empty-handed.

I’ve also witnessed the success of those who have taken that initial rejection in stride, reapplied (sometimes more than once), and eventually gained admission into top MBA programs.

Their success would not be possible without perseverance.

Stories of those who overcome obstacles to achieve success are media staples. The latest to capture the public’s imagination is that of NBA phenomenon Jeremy Lin, an undrafted point guard who was cut from two teams before achieving a starting position as a New York Knick.

Those who have received MBA rejections should keep in mind a few of Lin’s keys to success:

Keep pursuing your passion. Though Lin had a successful basketball career in high school, he received no athletic scholarship offers to college. After playing on Harvard’s basketball team, he went undrafted by the NBA. On the Golden State Warriors, he was demoted to the developmental league three times during his rookie year. The next year, the Warriors waived him. See a pattern?

Rejection doesn’t mean that you don’t belong. You may not get into the program of your dreams initially, but if pursuing your passion is important, you will likely find a way to make it happen.

Keep refining and improving your game. Countless YouTube videos have surfaced chronicling Lin’s grueling workout routines. He was clearly using the uncertainty of his NBA future as motivation. Those who receive MBA rejections should spend the next year upping community-service commitments and seeking more leadership responsibilities at work. Use down periods to make the needed improvements in order to be successful next time.

Defy expectations. Others’ expectations can hold us back. Many in the media have commented that Lin’s Asian-American background likely contributed to being overlooked in the NBA draft. In his success, he still has had to deal with racism. But Lin seems to have taken this in stride and focused on silencing his critics where it matters—on the court. We all face preconceived notions of who we are and of what we’re capable; we are also always able to prove them wrong. 

Make the most of second chances. When Lin finally got a chance to start for the Knicks, he responded by scoring 131 points in his first five games as a starter, an NBA record. Instead of letting his previous setbacks deplete his confidence, he played like someone determined to prove himself worthy of being there.

As Lin’s story shows us, if you prepare for your second opportunity at an MBA program and persevere, you’ll most likely get to prove your merits as well.

 

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