All work, no regret

The UPSC topper is not blessed with extraordinary intelligence; he/she is just extraordinarily committed

Published - May 11, 2019 05:00 pm IST

VIJAYAWADA, 25/02/2010: A student immersed in his academic work on the sprawling green campus of Andhra Loyola College in Vijayawada. Photo: V. Raju

VIJAYAWADA, 25/02/2010: A student immersed in his academic work on the sprawling green campus of Andhra Loyola College in Vijayawada. Photo: V. Raju

Every single aspirant starts out on the UPSC journey wanting to become a topper, but they all also commonly believe that those who top the exam, are the ones with extraordinary intelligence and prodigious learning abilities. Having observed and interacted with a lot of toppers very closely over the years, I disagree. Toppers, in my opinion, are just ordinarily intelligent people with extraordinary commitment.

Beyond their commitment to the purpose of clearing the UPSC Civil Services Exam and serving the nation, the following attributes are what I see as being common to almost all of the toppers.

1 They are single-minded about what they want. They don’t chase multiple goals like making money, finding a date, and also clearing UPSC.

2 They always go that extra mile, squeezing and making the most of every single day of their preparatory time.

3 They are not afraid of making mistakes. They learn from their mistakes and those of others too, and don’t repeat them.

4 They set realistic goals and plan for them. This means, definitely no 14 hours a day schedule that will make them run out of steam within two to three days.

5 They are not too emotional about success or failure. And they don’t base their effort on what their family or friends think about their success or failure in clearing the exam. They approach the subject clinically like a doctor — do what is needed and move on.

6 They have the capacity to delay gratification. They are willing to put the effort today, knowing fully well that it will bear fruit only a year or so from now.

7 They are highly adaptable. They don’t allow for things like bad food, accommodation or bad company to come in the way of their preparation. Studying with family around doesn’t work ? They move into a hostel.

8 They hold themselves accountable for the outcomes, rather than blaming it on the situation.

9 Despite stress, they maintain a positive outlook at all times. When they fall, they pick themselves up and are back on the road again.

10 They are disciplined. Even if they are tempted by some movie or dinner plans their friends are making, they know how to put their foot down and say no, when they need to.

11 They don’t keep what others around are doing as the benchmark. They just give their best.

12 They don’t go after too many sources of study material. Instead of reading the same topic from three different sources, because they are want the “BEST” material, they stick to basics like NCERTs, Yojana, The Hindu newspaper and so on, and study them well.

13 They know how to manage their time well, while preparing as well as at the exam hall.

At the end of it, seeing one’s name in the final list will make up for all the sacrifices and struggles; there is no regret about not watching their favourite movie or being left out when all their friends went on an outing

The writer is Director, Officers IAS Academy.

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