May 2017: Time to Transform... Into Oneself

Bryan Gunawan

May means the end of P2 – buhbye internship stress!

May means P3 for December class – electives!

May means the beginning of transformation – into oneself!

At least for me, the first two periods were huge discoveries – discoveries of what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, and how I wanted to become. Starting from P1 when everything was new, and continuing to P2 when everything is super intense – I began to ponder if it’s all worth it to play along in the game of FOMO – and at so many times, questioning whether I am in the process of painful growth, or I am losing my true self in between.

So I decided to go through the journey of space and rest – during the P2/P3 break. I travelled during the nine-day break in a budget travelling mode: to Budapest, Dubrovnik, then New York. My travel partner wanted to celebrate his birthday in New York – and so we decided on the journey of East Europe.. and the East Coast of the United States of America.

Budapest, Hungary at Night.
Me and Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Wicked at Broadway, New York


As I was looking at the beautiful architecture in Budapest, gleefully sauntering at the hot sites of shooting spots of the epic series Game of Thrones in Dubrovnik, and admiring the amazing skyscrapers in the city of New York that never sleeps, I realised how lucky I was.

How many people get the chance to travel across Eastern Europe and New York within nine days?

Little percentage, I suppose. Or even if I am wrong, it is nice to feel grateful and lucky.

Then I asked myself – what was the whole point of doing all these?

Didn’t I want to transform to the best version of myself, and not to lose myself?

So it hit me.

Realising it or not, I have been taking the electives that fascinate me the most – related to people and organizational development, technology and innovation, as well as strategies and analysis. Those electives were one of a kind of experiences – not only we get to interact within an ecosystem of people who share similar interests (hence maximising the learning impacts from each other), but also we get the chance to pick our own groups (not that I complain about my past group – great friends) in which the synergy was great at most times, and it was refreshing to be able to learn from more people.

There were three of the most memorable electives, and they differ from the kind of experience I had:

The first one was Technology & Innovation Strategy by Professor Nathan Furr – because it was just awesome that Professor Nathan Furr always brings the class to live – by literally bringing all the technologies in his cases. A 3-D printer case? He’d bring it. And there’s a huge surprise at the end of the last case, mind you – something that I won’t spoil so you get to experience it yourself.

The PancakeBot - one of the real-life Technology & Innovation Strategy products brought to class!

The second one was New Business Ventures by Professor Henning Piezunka – because it was.. overwhelming, although positive. But I had huge respect for the Professor – because he meant every word and he meant business – he gave us a lot of work and assignments to grow, and he walked his talk – his slides are so impeccable that the best slide makers would likely be embarrassed at the level of quality and dedication of his slides. But most importantly, it was beyond technicalities of entrepreneurship – he taught us the entrepreneurial mindsets, which apply to all aspects of life. There was once a time when he approached me and gave me personal feedback – what a commitment and dedication!

With Professor Hening Piezunka - New Business Ventures

The third one was Strategic Business Advisor by Professor James Costantini – the materials were hugely centred on critical thinking steps and overview of consulting industry – and the industry was particularly new to me, so that was really fascinating. Moreover, the group dynamics that we had – amazing synergy, collaboration – and maximum learning impact on impact consulting research!

So it has been over four months. How does it feel? Are you happy?

I got this question a lot. And my answer tends to be no. But allow me to explain. This was the experience I was looking for. It was not super nice to find that there are people who could be really, really different and confrontational. It was not super nice to find that there are people who play the game of power and politics all over. It was not super nice to find that the experience might not be as mumbo jumbo happy nirvana.

But all growth processes are painful, and that is when we truly transform.

When we are confronted with the truth to get out of our comfort zone, we are often faced with crossroads of ‘Are we going to the direction where I can be the best of myself, or are we actually changing the direction to where I probably lose myself?’ That is when we truly challenge the assumptions of our own existence and our true values – and boy that was not comfortable.

But when I reflected a lot about myself, I know where I stand. I know where I wanna be. I am an idealist, but I’m willing to stretch to create maximum impact. Because after all, when the idealist and the pragmatist actually combine forces – doesn't that create the maximum possible actions and solutions?

That is why I am doing an independent study project of writing a book – collecting stories and researching patterns of conflict resolutions. Because as I find myself talking with others, and interacting with others – we gain a better understanding of each other and creating a much better understanding of society, not a society of peaceful ignorance.

There was a time when I was talking with William, a 17J, a friend of mine from Indonesia. A very good friend, who was consulting a lot of my thoughts. There was a time when I shared with him that being an idealist is super painful – then he pointed out how inefficient I can be – and that talking a lot with a pragmatist actually helps to find more efficient ways.

That was one of the many stories in making me understand different minds. That was when I had to confront my own comfort zone and to break out of my own bubble, and reach collaboration to its fullest extent. That is when I truly understand others, and not peacefully ignoring them.

Because it was… painful, yet peaceful eventually when I went through the process of speaking to each other.

This, however, does not mean we lose value to ourselves. It means we understand others better, by listening and speaking to one another.

So understanding different minds? In order to capitalise on each other’s strengths? Not easy, but bring it on. Transformational mode ahead!