12 May 2013

+2 Preparation Redux...My competitive brother...

Readers, being a blog on Personal Growth, the lesson that I want to take from the article below is about how to set extra-ordinary goals, put extra-ordinary efforts and and reach their goals. The lesson that there is not substitute for planned hard work. Don't take the message of why my bro was hyper-competitive. That message is a 'side show' and peripheral.

You know, I had written an article on my +2 Preparation in this blog three days back. I had discussed, in that article, about how my ability to day-dream helped me to do very well in my +2 exams.

This article is about another type of +2 Preparation. 

This is the story of maniacal determination, exceptional effort and extra-ordinary achievement.

This is the story of the +2 Preparation of my brother.

My brother and me are polar opposites. I am a dreamer, he is the most practical guy, I know of. I am soft, he is tough, I take life as it happens, he decides what he wants and gets it, I think world is good and helpful, he, on the other hand, thinks that the world is helpful and all that, fine, but one has to be demanding of the world..

Polar opposites, my bro and I.

My mother attributes it to the fact that I was born on a full moon day, while my bro was born on a new moon day. 

May be...

May be it is because of the fact that being the eldest son, I had stuff given to me in platter, while he being the second child had to seize the privileges.

We were competitors right from childhood. Let me put it this way, he was always competing with me. I don't think I had a sense of competition, remember, I take life as it happens. But he was highly competitive. 

He had to do everything that I did, and better. We used to go to play competitive Table Tennis. I always used to lose, he always used to win. In times of stress, he used to become tougher. At one point in time, I think he was State ranked 6 in TT, while I? well....

In my class 10 exam, I scored 454, he scored 438.

He took it quite hard. He wanted, so badly, to score more than I did.

Since I was one year older to him, he was closely following my heals, if you see what I mean.

As you know, I scored about 94% score in my Class 12 (also known as 'Plus 2' exam). He was determined that he will do better than I did in his Plus 2 exam.

Being the hard as nails, practical guy that hie is, he decided to approach this challenge the old fashioned way, by putting in solid hard work.

Unlike me, he did not need any dreams or such nonsense to motivate him. I, his elder brother had got 94%, he had to get more than that, and he set about it in the most methodical manner possible.

Since my results had come just before his first year exam, he knew exactly how much he needed to score. He was going to have none of those inspired performances. He was not going to wait for any motivation to hit him. He was going to go about it methodically. He was going to slog, day in and day out.

As a first step, he calculated the number of hours he had till the examination. Then he noted down the subjects that he needed to focus on and prioritized them. Languages were low priority, he just needed to pass them. However, he needed to get very good scores in Maths, Physics and Chemistry so he allocated more hours to them.

Next he calculated how many hours he had to attend each class to ensure that he has just enough attendance. Then he went and negotiated with each of his Professors and informed them of his plan to get 100% marks in the first year exam and that he would not be attending the classes once he has enough attendance. Since this was a college where students came to while away their time, the professors were more than happy to let my brother have whatever he wanted.

Then he went about studying.

In the story of my experience, I had mentioned that I used to study about 18 hours a day for about 2 months. In my brothers case it was like, studying 18 hours a day eternity. Remember, he was only in his first year and I think that he studied for at least 10-12 hours a day for almost more than a year. Through spring, summer, the rains....he went about studying.

All of us know that if you need to score marks, you have to study. There is not shortcut. All of us theoretically know what we need to do to get grades. We need to identify our weak  areas, identify our targets, schedule our time, take notes, read widely not just your books, do past question papers, discuss with peers, discuss with those who had 'been there, done that'....


All of this knowledge is good. But the key ingredient is to get your ass out there, take the books, read, review and revise.

The point is unless you put the requisite efforts, you are not going to get there, you aren't gonna get it.

And my brother knew it. And he put it (effort) spadesfull.

I was not at home in his second year since I had already joined Engineering college. But on my visits home, his friend used to tell me how hard my brother was working. By then I had reached a level of maturity to realize that while his action of studying hard was good and correct, his motivation to beat me was not the correct reason. But I did not tell him that. Having seen the maniacal determination in his eyes, I did not have enough maturity to tell him what I thought about his motive.

His Plus 2 results more than justified his efforts. He scored 438 / 450 marks in his exam.

Finally, he had met his objective. He had done better than me in the exam.

What do you think of his effort? Do you think that his motivation was justified? Do you think that his ends justified the means? Have you ever been in such situation?

To his credit, my brother identified the futility of his goal. He realized that challenging oneself against ones own potential is a much better approach that focusing and external, peripheral objective. Later he told me that one of the things that scare him even now is, what would have happened if he had not met with his objective of overtaking me. Probably he would  have moved into a depression.

That would have been scary. Even if he had got less marks that me in Plus 2, still he would have been one of the few in Kerala who had got marks high enough to get into Engineering and he would not have felt satisfied because he did not meet with his objective.

Fortunately, he met with his objective. Later in life he had the perspective to show the futility of focusing on any goal other than striving to actualize his potential.

Having ridden achieved the primary goal, he relaxed. Once he relaxed, he went on to enjoy his engineering college days and is currently in the US, working for a multi-national.


RAN IN JAN said...

nice post. It is good to compete, but i didnt understand why he was so bent upon beating you? I agree younger ones have their elder brothers/sisters as their hero. It is good that he finished his engineering and is in US. In my case, I told my younger brother not to compete, just do what you like with full passion and be happy. I hope i did the correct thing.

Ramaswamy V K said...

Hello Niranjan
The competitiveness could be attributed to very close difference between our ages. Also, we studied in the same school and I was considered to be nice and easy going while he was considered to be very demanding of the teachers. Nowadays, we often have a good laugh at the kind of competition that we used to have.