What is common between you reading CSR in order to crack the IAS exam and a girl from Lady Shriram College topping the Civil Services Examination (CSE) in her first attempt in 2015-16? The common thread that connects these two events is willpower. Where there is a will, there is a way. The sentiment of this phrase was first published in 1640, in the work Jacula Prudentusm written by George Herbert: “To him that will, ways are not wanting.” By the 1820s, the phrase had been altered to ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way.’ You should take note that the biggest enemies of willpower are temptation, fatigue, lack of self-belief and conviction, self-criticism, and stress. These three skills—self-awareness, self-care, and remembering what matter most—are the foundation of self-control. The outstanding and brilliant All-India CSE Topper (2015-16), Ms. Tina Dabi, follows the same ideology. An ardent reader of CSR when she was preparing for the CSE, a very well-behaved Ms. Dabi later advised the same to future aspirants as well in her interview that we had published in the July 2016 issue of CSR. An example of competitive excellence, she had told the readers of CSR: “Do not lose patience and be regular in studies. Keep yourself motivated.”
Remember that temptations will always come your way. It is always easy to postpone arduous exam preparation and play video games with friends. It is always easier to sleep for an hour more than get up and go for a five-mile run. It is easier to reach for a bar of chocolate than stick to a strict diet and get your weight down to the ideal bracket for your height and body type. In all these cases, we come to a fork in the road. The more difficult road leads to success but it exacts a price from the traveller. Success does not come easily to anyone. Always remember that the other path is easier but it leads to a life of low achievement, regret and frustration. The pain and struggle that you avoid in the short run will multiply manifold and hurt you lifelong. The choice is yours. It is, therefore, important that you improve your level of self awareness to know what is going on in your mind.
There are many times when we go through life like veritable zombies and we do not even realise what the internal forces are that drive us. In such circumstances, many of you can be easily deflected from your desired path by the obstacles that come your way simply because you do not desire those goals strongly enough. The first thing that you need to do in terms of managing your own psychology is to ‘prime’ both your conscious and subconscious mind towards achieving success. Remember that your conscious brain is merely the tip of your psychological iceberg. Just like you can see only 10% of an iceberg while the rest remains submerged, similarly the part of your brain that you are aware of constitutes only 10% of your psychological processes.
What really drives your behaviour is the 90% of the ‘submerged’ part of your psychology that you are not aware of, i.e. your subconscious mind. Unless you fill your mind with positive thoughts, negative and compulsive thought patterns will tend to take over your personality and you might be driven towards a defeatist mindset without even realising it consciously. Think of your repetitive thought patterns like pathways in a garden. The paths that are well trodden, tend to stand out and you repeatedly take those paths when walking in the garden. Other pathways that are not taken often tend to become overgrown with weeds and plants that spontaneously spring up. It works the same way with your brain. Unless you make an effort to fill your mind with positive thought patterns, ‘weeds’ of negative thoughts and self-doubt will tend to dominate your neural pathways. Many celebrities, high achievers, successful students as well as champion sports personalities use this method to prepare their minds to succeed because ultimately we are what we think. Your brain and its processes determine your attitude and ultimately your success in life.
I wish you positive thoughts, strong willpower and every success in your life and career.