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Road to success

Statesman News Service | Abhishek Singhal |

It is often said that success eventually boils down to persistence. If one puts effort over a period of time, one would succeed. Given the fact that people have a certain basic intelligence and the IQ variation for most is within 10 per cent, success (or lack of it) can only be attributed to rigor and resilience.

One of my clients was firm in his decision about studying at Harvard Business School. Laudable objective, but with acceptance rates well under 10 per cent, it wasn’t easy. Further he was Indian, one of the most over-represented demographic at HBS. Also he was average as a student. He failed to qualify after two attempts. But he was driven by the attitude that HBS should consider itself lucky that someone is so persistent about getting admission there. Not taking him would be their loss. So the third time, he cracked it with a 50 per cent tuition waiver. This is a story of persistence. And if one doesn’t give up, one shall eventually taste success.

Often, young people come to me with a clamour that they want to do something new in life. These are prospective college applicants, young entrepreneurs, people who are trying to develop a new hobby or new employees. My usual response is, “How long have you been at it?” The answers mostly varry from a couple of days to a few months. But unless one has spent a considerable amount of time at a particular vocation, one cannot succeed at it.

Another client came to us in the first year of her undergraduate studies. She had more than two years before her Master’s in management application was due and she wanted to build a powerful and honest narrative of herself.

Over the course of time, we realised that she is passionate about smells and was particularly captivated by the smell of first rain. She chose to explore her interests in the area and went on to research and developed deeper understanding of the subject. She walked on the narrow by-lanes of Old Delhi, explored the process of holding a smell in a ghara in the suburb of Kannauj, learnt to mix oils with the Hyderabadi artisans in the old Begum-Bazaar and discovered a unique approach to create bespoke smells in Bangalore. Her narrative was on smells and in her application she expressed her intention to be a part of luxury and leisure industry. She got admission in a reputed European college and is currently pursuing her Master’s in luxury management.

Another student wanted to be a soccer player which doesn’t have much scope in India. He spent three years on different vocations related to the game following which he became an unparalleled soccer enthusiast. He later applied to one of the most coveted programmes in sports management — the FIFA Master’s (International Master’s in management, law and humanities of sports) jointly conducted by three universities in England, Italy and Switzerland. This became a stepping stone not just for a promising career with Real Madrid as an assistant team manager but also for realising his passion. Persistence eventually paid off.

The core message is that one must spend time in building one’s narrative to get into a top-notch academic institute. Eventually, it is not about one’s scores but rather on his/her individual story. The only way this story can become potent is by building the narrative over a period of time. Evidence based inputs which give credibility to this story is a prerequisite to make it powerful and realistic.


The writer is the founder, UnivAdmitHelp