Hmm…I’m not feeling well… seems I caught a cold. Not only me apparently, today our classroom was a cacophony of coughing and sneezing. Seems there is a bad cold is going around. Although the weather is better than it has been, temperatures remain in the 10-20°F range here in Boston. For many people who enjoyed their winter break in warmer climes, this frigid weather cuts to the bone.
Since 50% of our grades are based on class participation, we cannot afford to be absent from class at HBS without risking the consequences. But my shaky health totally destroyed my performance this week. The illness is not terribly bad. The symptoms are the expected – chills, coughing, and sore throat. However minor this may seem, the seemingly minor affliction makes a big impact. No matter how many times I read them, the cases don’t soak into my head. Discussions go much faster than my brain runs. And my concentration breaks intermittently. Usually busy, my hand is now keeping quiet on the desk.
In the comfy confines of an HBS classroom, some may say it matters little - but what if it was a real business, the discussion was a board meeting, and I was the CEO pressed to make a critical decision? My impaired judgment may cause significant loss to the value of my company, not to mention the repercussions for employees and shareholders.
When I was a consultant, my boss often said, “Health management is one of your jobs.” When one of his team members caught a cold, he didn’t regard the person as a professional. “It doesn’t matter whether the reason is physical, mental, or intellectual. Low performance is low performance”, he said. Not wanting to lose his trust, sometimes I worked hiding the fact that I caught a cold. Since then, I always remember the boss’s face when I obviously didn’t feel well.
Anyway, I may as well take a rest and focus on rehabilitation this weekend. Next week, eight case protagonists are eagerly awaiting my return …