I am Ankit Doshi, Creator of InsideIIM, and I welcome you to the second episode of a brand new program called Growth Stories with Ankit Doshi. This is a 30 Day Program where I will help you think about key decisions and moments in your personal and professional life.
Based on my experience of scoring 99.68 in CAT and of running InsideIIM for 9 years, one thing I know for sure is that it’s not only your preparation that helps you make the cut. Your mental muscle plays an even bigger role, in most cases. The mental conditioning required for one of the toughest exams in the world comes with practice, knowledge and presence of mind. But there is one central idea to all three of these; self-belief.
To that end, I will send one curated piece of reading or video every day. I will also answer one subscriber question answered every day. With CAT 2020 knocking at your door, I will talk about concepts and frameworks that you can apply immediately to gain that confidence and self-believe.
Episode 2: Building on Strengths vs Worrying About Weaknesses
In the movie Dangal, Indian wrestler Geeta's performance drops once she changes her style at the international level. She decides to work on being more defensive instead of being offensive. Watching her from a distance, her father (Aamir Khan) comments that you can't ask Sehwag to bat like Rahul Dravid! I couldn't agree more!
One of the classic challenges that I have seen everyone - from young students to National level Sales heads to start-up CEOs - struggle with, is finding the balance between working on improving on one's weaknesses vs spending time building on one's strengths. Although it seems like a simple binary decision, it is not as easy to execute as it appears.
A large majority of CAT students have a perennial problem allocating time between different topics and sections both while studying for the test as well as while attempting the CAT.
What is the right answer?
I don't think there can be a right answer for questions like these but this is my take on the issue -
Focus on your strengths and try to be the best at what you are already good at. Stop worrying about what you are unlikely to be world class in.
Does it mean you ignore your weaknesses? Absolutely not. You work on it to ensure you don't get trampled upon by the competition. You ensure you keep improving it. However, working on weaknesses should not come at the cost of lack of development of your strength area.
You will never really be the best at what you are not naturally good at. And because you stop focussing on what makes you awesome, you lose your edge and end up being really ineffective overall.
There are so many examples of this in real life. Companies start with a USP and delight customers. Then they try to do more and ape their competitors who are better at other things. This leads to them losing focus on what made them special in the first place. And they end up giving a really mediocre experience to their customers.
A good bowler makes his mark in the world with his ability to swing the ball well. Someone says he isn't fast enough. This distracts the bowler and he spends all his time and energy working on his bowling speed. He stops practising the core skill he possesses. He loses the potency and never manages to achieve his true potential.
My CAT 2007 attempt suffered because of one simple reason. I spent an inordinate amount of time working on my weaknesses. It cost me a high percentile that year. I should have first focussed on ensuring my RC and Verbal Ability section was top-notch at all times to ensure I scored above 99.5 percentile. Instead, I spent all my time working on my weaker section and ended up with a respectable 97.5%ile with a 90+ in each section but without acing any one thing and hence missing out.
At the level of the ego, you need to first acknowledge that you are not going to be good at everything. Our first instinct is always to maximise everything. However, that is not possible. Sure, there are some geniuses and freaks. But for the large majority of us, it is foolish to believe we will be outstanding at everything.
This is the toughest part. Once you accept this with humility you acknowledge who you truly are. Now, you can focus on sharpening your best asset, your outstanding attribute, your biggest strength. You also focus on you getting better at what you are not very good at without burdening yourself with unreasonable expectations.
Can I get into my dream school by scoring 85-90 odd in my weak section if I can completely break my boundaries in my strong section and score say a 99.8+? If the answer is yes, then I'd bet on that being the most likely way for me to make it.
I also believe it is easier to become world-class in what you are good at. One enjoys doing most things that one is good at. The odds of improving that further are much higher than fixing fully the things we don't really like but are pushing ourselves inorganically to improve upon.
The world is looking for that one special thing about you. Psychologically, you need to focus on your inherent awesomeness first. What will make you stand out? What will give you the ability to shine? The best years of your life need to be dedicated to working on what you are awesome at. Don't let the stigma of your weaknesses drown you down. Your life is going to be memorable based on what you can do and not on what you can't do.
Subscribe to the 30-Day Growth Stories With Ankit Doshi program now! You will find a new growth story every day in your mailbox for the next 30 days. The first 5 stories will be free for everyone. You need to subscribe to get the 6th story and beyond i.e. 5th November onwards.
Curated Story For The Day
Today's curated story is this excellent TEDx Talk in Madrid that supports the above growth story. Eva Katharina Herber gives us some interesting examples but the one that stayed with me was the example of Madonna. She was never the one who possessed the best voice at the time but she didn't get bogged down and became one of the greatest stars on the planet. Do watch it.
'Success kya hai? Failure ke baad ka chapter.' Do read this
You may write to me at email@example.com in case you have questions. I will answer the questions over the next couple of days.
What’s in it for you in the Growth Stories with Ankit Doshi:
- Mental Models for Analyzing CAT Prep
- Notes for Self-Reflection
- High-Quality Curated Content & their Summaries
- Motivation to turn Intent to Action