At this ungodly hour, when I write this at 4AM,  so that you can read it before you rise – or goto bed – I see a lot of people awake -some of them are awake because they failed to meet their life goals with the CSE results coming in last night – and some of them – for the exact opposite reason – meeting their life goals.

( As I write this, Both Sachin Gupta, Rank 3 and Abhishek Surana[1], Rank 10 are wide awake , and on Whatsapp, having made a successful exit from the examination process ).

This is for those who didn’t see their name in the final list yesterday.

I have something to tell you.

The Mughals were defeated by the Ahom kings 17 times in battle. But the Mughal empire did not collapse.

You cannot be an empire if you collapse at the end of a battle.

The Civil Services Examination is something like a long drawn War – with many battles in it. Each stage is a new battle, and every battles has to be won afresh.

Previous victories do not assure a win in the next one.  And when a battle begins – no one knows who will win and who will lose – because if the outcomes of battles were exactly predictable and known – they would not occur in the first place.

Those are some of the ground rules of this examination.

So this one is for those of you who did not make it to the final list last night. And those of you who did not appear for the Interview this year after your Mains Examination.

#1 Give yourself some time

The finality of the result takes some time to sink in. Usually upto three days. The mornings are usually horrible. And denial of reality is  the first response.

The Architect in the Matrix said this famously – denial is the most predictable of human responses.

So let this feeling sink in.Do not deny it the space it will eventually take. Perhaps cry. Let it all go. The sooner you let go of it, the better prepared you are . Don’t let it spread over months. This week is all you got. The Prelims is 37 days away, starting today.

#2 Make no decisions at this hour

Its a good thing to be a quick decision maker. First mover. Early adopter. Any of those things.

If you were building a start up , I would tell you that.

However, when it comes to failure in Civil Services, these are not the best of times for decision making.

We are less likely to stick to decisions that we take under duress. In fact, they are not even the best decisions – because you are not even in the right frame of mind to take them.

So no career decisions, life – changing decisions,  or life-partner decisions for now.

You have enough time to take those calls. If you could wait this long, you can wait a little longer.

#3 You are not a disgrace to your parents

Of all the people left in the world , your mum and your Dad are always the people who will think in your best interest.

They may not be the best people to guide you on what career to choose or who to choose to spend your life with, but they have your best interests in mind.

Always.

Only them. These are some eternal laws of the Universe.

And you are not a disappointment to them. They are older, have seen more life than you have, and you may not realise it right now – but they are much more understanding than  you think them to be.

Sometimes, they also know better.

Whenever  I meet a kid who has been preparing for Mains for past three years doing optional classes/ test series annually , but doesn’t study for Prelim’s or join a Prelims Test Series because This-time- I-have-figured-out-Prelims-and-will-surely-clear-it, I tell them to write a Dear Dad letter that says –

Dear Dad, I have not cleared prelims three times. I have studied for Geography optional almost every year and two months before Prelims, I am still preparing Geography Optional – Please tell me if my strategy is right or wrong.

Chances are, somehow, they get the answer even without sending the letter to Dad.

#4 You are accountable to noone

The truth is, you are not accountable to anyone for your success or your failure. Not your flatmates, your relatives or your friends whose phone you and your parents are not picking.

You are accountable only to your future self.  So stop being ashamed of what you have achieved and what you have not achieved.

In the famous TV series Game of Thrones[3], Tyrion Lannister ,born a dwarf and disowned by his father tells John Snow – Never forget who you are , and wear it like an Armour, because the world will not.

( We”ll be moving into Season 8 of the series, and I can  tell you that John Snow and Tyrion are the most favourite characters from the series – Worldwide. They are also heroes of Game of Thrones, not just survivors, if you know what I mean. )

So get out of your room called* comfort zone, get some fresh air and maybe goto the mountains, for a week maybe.? Auli is a good destination.

#5 Find out the root problem

I am not going to deny that the examination is a little unpredictable. Unlike an IIT Entrance – where a person  who is able to solve problems at home, will be able to solve problems in exam too – the CSE has subjectivity – which increases from Mains to the Interview.

However, you must strive to find out what went wrong / is going wrong and work on it. Often that prognosis is not easy. And probably you will need help.

But once you are able to diagnose the problem right, you are on way to the solution – subject to a strong will power and execution skills.

In the past one year, I have worked closely with a lot of Forum Community Members, and I can tell that yours truly has worked with more than 100 people whose names I saw in the final list. I am citing some case studies.[2]

Deepanshu : I met him multiple times for the past one year after the Mains. He had not been able to score well in the past attempt, and I saw him really improve over the past year. He was a keen learner and observer. Whenever someone would ask me the question – I have not been able to clear Mains, I would call D and ask him to share what D did. And what D did was an action oriented strategy – wrote at least 10-12 Mains Tests before the Prelims itself . He also shared that he worked hard on Ethics and Essay exclusively. He has a rank 120 this year. @Deepanshu , if you are reading this, you owe a write up to the community 🙂

Sachin : I met him multiple times again in the past year. He had not scored well in the Interview before, and we had 7-8 sessions together. I still remember when we did not have a roof, we went to the terrace of the building to do Mock Sessions and Group Sessions. He was with ICLS and would travel from Manesar on weekends to have the sessions. He has secured Rank 3. I can tell you that he worked extra hard for his Interview this time. When I had asked him if he knows where he is lacking – he was one of the few who were correctly aware of their shortcomings. We worked on it for at least 2 months – and he being form Haryana , had  a late Interview on 10th March – thus having ample time to prepare.

Juhi :  When I first met Juhi , I told her you are my next Mittali Sethi 🙂 She chuckled, albeit nervously. Like Mittali, she was able to write answers well , and  needed only a little push. You should see her copies of the last few MGP tests sometime.

Deep inside I was always perturbed about her Philo Optional , as I knew she would do outstandingly well in the GS, if everything goes alright (again UPSC is unpredictable), but could not say the same about Philo performance. She slogged. I can tell you that. Her notebooks were full When I told her she should prepare for first Interview after Mains, she came all the way from Ludhiana ( I insisted ) with her husband to attend the session. I was also concerned about her Interview since most people with good communication skills do not prepare for the Interview and end up scoring less. She did , in the end work a lot hard for the PT. She has secured rank 122.

Abhishek : I am going public with this 😛 since you promised you will share your whole notes repository in public domain once you get IAS 🙂

Abhishek worked extremely hard on the contents of his answers all throughout. He was one of the few people who wrote every single MGP Test . We conducted an Open Test before Mains last year , and i remember we had to create a Physics Paper only because we had one guy with Physics Optional – Abhishek and he would would write it. I will try to share his copies with you.

He was very specific with his content, and improved heavily in terms of how he wrote answers. He has secured a Rank 10 this year.

There are numerous other people I worked with, and the purpose of this post is not to write about Toppers, but about candidates who worked on solving their problems when they were not toppers.

And I can tell you that if you have faced failure before, the only way to improve is to find out the root cause and work towards it.

Only then will you see improvement.

Do not merely write the exam year after year.

Sometimes, we are incapable of seeing those lacuna, and it is a good idea to take help from someone who knows better and someone who has your best interest in mind.

A good peer group is a wonderful thing.

Also, most people draw early conclusions after writing one mock test. Don’t do that. Improvement is a continuous thing.

So, if you are facing a problem again and again , find out the root cause of the problem and work for it. There is no other way.

“But-UPSC-is-unpredictable” any such nihilistic statements unfortunately,   do not solve problems. Be more scientific than that.

#6 This is not over yet.

This is for those of you who just wrote their last attempt.

Let me share you a secret.

Every 7 years , the cycle of success and failure repeats itself. Today’s failures will be tomorrow’s success stories. We just dont know which ones of us will be tomorrow’s Superstars.

Twenty years from now, you will be surprised to see the failures of today , on Prime Time on Television and Print Media , ( or their equivalent as both print media and TV could be dead in twenty years)  , as role models of success.

An IRS Officer is the Chief Minister of Delhi. A Chaiwallah is the Prime Minister of India. Period.

As unfair as it may sound to you, due  to you limited knowledge and limited understanding of the world, that is how life  is should be.

I am not supporting mediocrity – and in fact an entrance examination does not decide who is good and who is not  – and most people will agree (  or disagree ) that Narendra Modi is more capable of leading the country than Kejriwal is for leading Delhi.

I am saying life is – and should be – designed in manner where we are the masters of our own fate. And our lives are not, and should not be decided by a single event, person, or thing.

( Though almost all of us struggle with letting a single event or person define life for us. ).

There are multiple such events that will both define you and determine where you land up.

You are not your exam result.

Your story is not over yet. In fact, its just begun.

 

Until Next Time,

Neyawn


[1] Abhishek later told me that he was awake at that hour not because of the hollowness that usually follows success, but because he had to train at 6AM at the NPA as an IPS Probationer  🙂

[2] Cases have been cited not keeping in criteria of Ranks in mind.

[3] Game of Thrones is an American fantasy drama television series created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. It is an adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin’s series of fantasy novels, the first of which is A Game of Thrones.

 

 

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