Sunday, April 19, 2009

If you want something badly enough...

You get it!

And here's a feel-good story for a Sunday evening that tells you how you can make it happen. This example is of a guy - let's call him G - who cracked the CAT exam but it could apply to anything in life.

I am sharing the letter he wrote to me, after being accepted at four IIMs ( reproduced as is, punctuated by my comments in italics).

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 on your blog, 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. (IIMA's loss, I am sure! :)

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 Kung-fu Panda post 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.

(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 focussing 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.

(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, i.e. 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 post 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 realize 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.

(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 the wonderful blog that you write. It has inspired me on more than one occasion. Believe me, I view self-help stuff with suspicion, contempt and even derision, but your words work for me.


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.

More 'kung fu panda' experiences shared by readers here.


  1. i couldn't agree more. have had plenty of experiences myself :)

    its also the crux of 'The Secret'

  2. My friend asked me to read the blog in between he was done with initial paragraph.I jumped on the blog and found that some body is writing my own story.Same leaving high paid core and opting IT and Low 10th mark (wrt IIM standard) even being among topper of state board.Same working hard to achieve the ONE even in tight schedule.Difference is result 1 % ile less than good calls. I cant disagree with you as my own introspection suggests me Man you were not confident as Mr.G.Congrats G and thanks.I have learned a lesson again here....if you want sth badly enough....

  3. Thanks Rashmi for putting this up. :)

    Congratulations to G and many others who have a similar story for they all deserved it. Like it's said in The Alchemist -'Maktub'

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I know this guy! He is one of my closest friends!! As you don't intend to mention his name, neither would I. But I want to say this - Great Job man!!! You'll always be an inspiration to me and many others! Way to go dude!!

  6. hey... u or rather G reminded me of my own days of preparing for CAT and then for interview....

  7. " 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."

    I guess, that's true with most things in life - if we know that we have an easier but mediocre plan B chances are high that we'll go with it...

  8. I just want to say thanks a lot for writting such a Good Blog.
    " I got my My Way"

    Thanks a Lot
    G and Rashmi

  9. Truly Inspiring !

  10. I think if challenged enough, we tend to evolve innovative practices. We may not realize, until the goal has been achieved, that we developed these practices. In hind sight, it is these small innovations which make us succeed.


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