Have you ever wondered why the road to success in civil services is so difficult? Have you pondered that out of 5 lakh candidates that appear every year only 1000 odd candidates make the cut? Why despite intelligence, and hardworking attitude many deserving candidates are left out of civil services. The answer to these lies in the attitude of the winners. They have inculcated some essential habits that make them go through in civil services and also have an illustrious career in it. Now many of you might say that luck plays a big factor in civil services. No doubt it does, but that is a variable which no one has control on, so game finally rests on what is one’s attitude towards the exam and how his/her day to day activities reinforce it. Winning or losing than becomes a habit.
So what are these winning habits of successful aspirants? How they get separated from the rest who are equally good? Why the luck favors them almost every time they appear in the exam?
From past many years of mentoring and interviewing successful candidates in civil services, I was able to pinpoint some similarities in their habits and way they acted when put into difficult situations. Today I am going to share these valuable insights with you all. I hope this helps you to get that cutting edge and reach a point where luck becomes just a bystander in deciding your fate in civil services.
Cautious Optimism: Deeper analysis of successful Candidates during preparation and after selection have revealed that they are an optimistic lot (almost all of them). They are positive in their approach, are inherently funny and are willing to take bad moments in life in a lighter tone. But that does not mean they are careless. I witnessed their optimism comes with a caution. It’s like a check and balance they have in their internal circuitry. A lot of it has to do with their upbringing, their schooling, and their surroundings. Their cautious optimism will help them cope with the immense stress of the exam and yet keep them focus on the challenge. For instance during the revision times, when the exam is just a week or so away, this attitude makes them optimally utilize their time without getting stressed out and mentally fatigued.
Challenge hungry: there is two type of candidates in civil service examinations. First, there are those who go for test series just for the sake of it i.e. they have to do it because it is that phase of the exam where everyone else is doing it (before Pre and Mains). But they don’t find an internal calling for testing themselves. So you will see this lot taking challenge only during these times. Even here they will not complete their tests or take all the test series. It is just they don’t find inner strengths to go through that challenge. On the other hand, there are those who actively are looking to test themselves with the best civil services coaching institutes. They will jump into any question put in front of them or readily start solving any paper given to them (even if they don’t fare well in them). They are the ones who have strongly built this challenge hungry habit. I know a person (Now SDM in Punjab) who was just willing to solve any paper anywhere, anytime. He even used to get SSC papers and solve them just for fun. When asked he used to say ‘Sir kick milta hai’. I realized that this so-called kick feeling was present in almost all the students who got through in exam (whom I interviewed and observed).
Habit No. 3:
Planners: Everyone plans, almost all the 5-6 lakh candidates who appear in this exam. Then how is this habit different in winners. Successful candidates not only plan but they realize that plans can get stuck and ruined. So they are willing to make adjustments in their plans. Matter of fact Most of the successful candidates always had a plan B. This is as true about life as about the exam. In my interview, one candidate told me that he used to prepare contingency plan along with Main one. He is now serving as ASP (Asst. Superintendent of Police) in Delhi. He said that he still follows this same method in his service and he vouches for its effectiveness. So Not only ‘Making a plan/strategy’ but also ‘Making a Plan when the main one fails’ matters.
Adjustment makers: Most of the successful candidates I have seen are highly adjustable. They don’t mind adjusting to change scenarios, conditions, and circumstances. A Close friend of mine now in IRTS, was very poor at writing skills when she started preparation for civil services. By the time she got selected in services (3rd attempt) she was unmatched in essay writing (scored 162 in the essay, in her 3rd attempt). One needs to adjust to various phases of the exam. He/she needs to master them so that the best results can be achieved. Being flexible is a key to crack civil services.
Habit No. 5:
Gregarious: Now here most of the aspirants would not agree with me. They feel an aspirant is an introvert living the life of an ascetic, giving up social leisure and sittings. But this is far from the truth. From what I have witnessed, almost all of the candidates I interviewed, are social animals. They are outgoing, talkative, and put their points in a conversation very fluently. Perhaps that makes them ideal candidates in the interview phase of the exam. I had a hard time finding the link of being Gregarious and success in the exam. I feel socially outgoing person have better analytical skills and presence of mind. They are more capable of comprehending multiple situations and emotions in a conversation. These sharpened interpersonal skills help them become an effective administrator. Perhaps this is noticed by the interview board too.
Habit No. 6:
Mentor Seekers: Let me tell you, for those who think they can do it alone and they don’t need any help, they can’t be more wrong. This exam requires help from all the quarters. I didn’t find any Successful candidate who didn’t mention a mentor, who helped him/her crack the exam. I am not saying you only have to go to UPSC coaching academies for it, but if it helps to reach your goal why not. Mentors can be found in friends, seniors, successful candidates and yes right coaching academies. I had an interview with a candidate who cracked the exam in his first attempt without any coaching. But in the interview, I came to know that his elder brother was a civil servant cracking the paper twice in his four attempts (IPS in his 2nd and IAS in his 4th Attempt). When I asked to whom you would he credit his success to, the answer was but obvious and prompt ‘My brother’. So what I mean to say is the mentor can make a difference in the preparation and the mentor will not come to you, you will have to reach him/her. Those who are willing to do this search and follow the path shown by a guiding light are more likely to reach the success.
Out of many habitsnoticed, I found these the real game changers. Some other honorable mentions include waking early in the Morning (morning persons), Punctuality, innovative (for syllabus coverage), regular physical activity etc.
I Hope this piece of writing gave you the impetus to bring right changes in your journey towards your goal of civil services. My best wishes to you. Remember, Habits are not ways we are born with, they are cultivated consciously or unconsciously. Conquer the winning habits before bad habits conquer you.