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Get what you want

Yes, we all know that success comes to those who persevere to achieve it. But sometimes we just wait for a push in the right direction. This first hand account of a MBA aspirant reaffirms the fact that nothing is impossible if you try hard enough.

There are many roads to ‘success’ in life but one thing is for sure, you only succeed if you want something badly enough.
No, I am not saying you ‘want’ and then simply sit back and wait for it to drop into your lap. The point is when you have a burning desire to reach somewhere you also try everything you can – to get there.
Let me illustrate what I mean with the story of a young man – let’s call him G – who cracked the CAT exam. But, please note, the principle applied to anything in life. I am sharing the letter he wrote to me, after being accepted at four IIMs and this is how he made it happen.

Dear Rashmi,

I hope you remember me. I was one of the 9 or 10 CAT aspirants who took part in the survey you conducted, sometime last year. I scored 99.86 percentile in CAT 2008. I got GDPI calls from IIM Calcutta, Lucknow, Indore and Kozhikode, and managed to convert all four of them.

I’ll obviously be going to IIM Calcutta. Yes, I was a victim of IIM A’s policy of looking at the 10th and 12th standard scores: I had a comparatively lower score in my tenth standard.

This is the time when I pause and look back at my CAT preparation. And one thing that instantly flashes to my mind is your article: ‘Lessons from Kung-fu Panda’ written sometime last year.

“Lesson # 1: If you want something badly enough, you get it somehow.”

Believe me, I wanted it badly enough. I shifted to a lower paying job in an IT firm, from a high-paying “core” firm, so that I’d get time to study for CAT. I was assigned to a project, and the timelines were tight- we had to work on weekends also.

Initially I whined a bit because I had shifted here to study in peace, but later I managed to ‘beat’ the system. On Saturdays, I juggled with CAT classes (4 hours) and office work (8 hours). I was determined not to come to office on Sundays (others in my team did come) by working harder on Saturdays. On Sundays I took two mock-CATs: one from IMS and the other from TIME.

Ed’s note: Many others would have given up – but you found a way to juggle both work and study. I do think this is a better strategy than quitting your job and only focusing on preparation – a question I am commonly asked!

I did not score high consistently in the mock-CATs. Yet, I had a vague inner feeling that I’ll hit a sixer on the last ball, and do extremely well in CAT. I just meditated on the last day before CAT, and repeated 15-15-25 in my mind. The numbers referred to the number of questions I would solve in Quant, DI and Verbal sections respectively. It ended up being 13-12-40.

Ed’s note: Meditation is a *must* no matter who you are and what you do. We brush our teeth everyday, but what about all the cobwebs in our minds?
Frankly I find it very tough to determine causality, ie I did ‘X’ and scored well in CAT. All I can say is that if you are not convinced that an IIM is the only place for you, then it is impossible to succeed in CAT.

One more thing: many people take CAT to escape from their IT jobs.

I quote from that article of yours:
“Clearing these super tough exams is like running a lawnmower through your own mental garden. It crushes the weeds of self doubt and self pity which we’ve allowed to grow. Exam or no exam, you can choose to yank out those weeds. Then look the guys who think they know better in the eye and declare,”My soup is as kick-ass as yours.”

I couldn’t agree more with you on this. The whole process of cracking CAT, clearing the interviews has changed me a lot. It is not that I have become cocky, or that I have acquired a “Bring ’em on” attitude after getting an admission into IIM-C. It is simply that I don’t care about anything else.

I have become less self-conscious about my appearance. I am less anxious about what others will say. I know

I can stretch myself to do bigger things after cracking CAT- after all if I could manage a tough office schedule and crack CAT (and eventually the interviews), I can face most (if not all) of the challenges that come in front of me.

And now I realise that those were the weeds of self-doubt and self-pity which CAT yanked out. The whole experience gave me confidence, yet it was humbling too.

Ed’s note: True confidence is really about humility. You know you are capable of anything, and that ‘others’ do not matter. You are really only competing with yourself… But, no matter how much you ‘achieve’ you accept that there will always more to seek, to experience, and understand.

Well, that’s all I have to say. Let me take this opportunity to thank you for inspiring me. Believe me, I view self-help stuff with suspicion, contempt and even derision, but your words worked for me.
Cheers,

G

Ed’s note: Thank you, G, for sharing your experience. Wish you all the very best in the journey of life. May the panda in you continue to kung fu, even in that suit and tie.

You can read the original Kung Fu Panda article on www.jammag.com/careers If you’ve had a similar experience please feel free to share it.
Email me: rashmi@jammag.com

– Rashmi Bansal

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