Zen and the art of course selection

Here’s the great thing about being at Stanford: the school is small! There are less than 7000 undergraduates, and fewer than 8500 grad students here.* That means classes are small, you get lots of personal attention, and you learn fast.

The range of course offering is vast, and the facilities, both academic and sporting, are outstanding. No wonder most of the people on this Fellowship had spent months picking out classes, and working to how best to configure their schedules.

I packed my schedule with classes in languages, economics, leadership, management and public speaking. Oh, and running, and swimming and climbing and all sort of other stuff.

It took about six weeks before I realized how I’d screwed up.

One day, I got a lunch invitation from a Bay Area CEO interested in my work.

But I had class that day, and we just haven’t managed to find another time.

Another day, a professor I wanted to meet with had a small window in his schedule, and said we could get coffee.

But I had class right at that time, so we’ll have to wait until March, when his book tour is over.

Every day I’d get emails or see flyers or hear about a lecture by some famous person, a film screening, a seminar by a leading economist, an art showing or a luncheon that would be great to go to.

Except I had class.

At our first formal gathering of Fellows, back in September, Jim Bettinger and Dawn Garcia warned us that even though we were at one of the best Universities in the country, we’d be wise not to focus too much on classes. There are so many other things happening here, so much going on at the various research centers, and so many opportunities for networking, that class can really get in the way.

Less is more, in other words.

So, this quarter – no classes. Well, maybe one or two.