The Power of Humility: Why Your Strengths Alone Are Not Enough.

Applications Coach Tom Scott on the power of humility in your statement of purpose. #talento #mba #maestria #softskills #competencias
If it is too good to be true, it probably is. This cliché is ancient, but still relevant. When you write a statement of purpose (SOP), you want it to make you shine. But, if you present a flawless image, admissions advisors will see right through you…

It is vital to sell your strengths and achievements in your SOP essay. Universities want successful candidates with a track record of success. They want to hear about career milestones, academic achievements and competition wins. They also want to know you as a person.
This is why it is important to show humility. We all fail sometimes, whether we admit it or not. Is it a good idea to show these weaknesses in our SOP? Is it possible people will judge us for these? The answer to both questions is yes!
Exposing our weaknesses, however, is also likely to endear us to others. It becomes much easier to connect with someone who is open. If you are not convinced, here is a powerful anecdote from Harvard.


A Story

Francesca Gino is a Harvard Professor and author of Rebel Talent: Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life. Francesca shows that being too perfect can alienate us from others. People find it hard to connect and be authentic with flawless professionals. Opening up about our weaknesses can help others find a connection with us.
In Rebel Talent, Francesca tells to story of an Ivy League Professor who was tired of being seen as perfect. His students would always elevate him to god-like status. This meant they would not question him much and a distance between them appeared.
To counter this, the professor decided to produce a CV of his failures. His students were amazed. They now saw him as more human. The result was he formed a much stronger relationship with them. They shared more ideas and connected on a higher level.

Your Statement of Purpose

Before writing your statement of purpose, write a list. On one side, note down your successes. Awards, projects, promotions and scholarships are all good examples. On the other side, write down some weaknesses or failures. Think of the jobs you did not get. Maybe you got rejected for a scholarship or an award. Perhaps you launched and business and it fell flat?
When drafting your SOP, remember to include both. You should include more successes than failures. But, you should not be afraid to show where you want to improve in life. We learn a lot from failures and we can connect to them on an emotional level.
A good SOP will always connect with the reader emotionally. Competing against thousands of applicants, you must try and hook the reader early. You want them to keep reading to the end of your SOP. If all they see is old clichés and hyperbole about how bloody good you are, they will probably get bored.

Take the Next Step

Over the years I have coached hundreds of candidates. I have had great success. Candidates into Harvard, MIT, Wharton, Cambridge and Oxford and more. Many Chevening, Fulbright and Conacyt Scholars as well. I have also seen some of my candidates fail to get everything they wanted. Heck, after university, I got rejected from the first five interviews I had. It made me stronger.
That is the harsh reality when some schools have 3-8% acceptance rates. But, giving balanced and research advice, the number of successful applicants is high. Humility starts from the types of university you choose to apply to. It will help you connect with the right program. Later, it will help you resonate with the admissions team.
Feel free to write to me on to see how I can help you succeed.

2 thoughts on “The Power of Humility: Why Your Strengths Alone Are Not Enough.”

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