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What to do in situations in which too many people are competing for minuscule opportunities..

I was born and brought up in Gwalior. When my friends from the rest of the world curiously ask me which place do I come from in India? I always have to state the reference to Agra (the home of the Taj Mahal). I tell them, I come from Gwalior - around 100 KMs from Agra.

While growing up, my city was famous for 10-15 hours of power cuts, crimes in the surrounding areas (Bhind, Morena, Chambal), and desperately poor townfolks who never had much hope for economic betterment. The situation was really bad - at least while I was growing up.

The only means to achieve glory for a middle-class Indian was to get into the #IITs, and if for some reason that doesn’t work out - get into Delhi University to later prepare for the #IAS exam.

And why not? At IITs or at DU - kids from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities will be exposed to a whole new world. They will interact will students from across the country, they will compete, they will collaborate - and will always be on the edge to grow!

Some of my closest friends from Gwalior - went on to achieve incredible feats on the global stage.

But for those who were left behind - succumb to a condition called the ‘losers effect’ - it is when you start doubting yourself, your actions, and every decision of your life after a minor setback. Low confidence is reflected in anything that you do in life.

And the sad fact is that 99% of young kids will fall into this trap. They will fail in some ‘life-defining’ exams, and the rest of their career trajectory will be downhill.

They will fail not because they are not talented, smart, or diligent. They will fail because there are too many people competing for minuscule opportunities in India.

What should you do in such a scenario?

1. Creating something of your own - I’m truly in awe of today’s generation from tier 2 and tier 3 Indian Cities - who are hustling, and taking asymmetric bets in life. Every week, 2-3 hours of my time on the calendar is booked for these young bright minds from nooks and corners of India - who are 19-22-year-old kids. They are launching some really innovative businesses.

2. Create your own quality network - One major reason why people at IIMs, and Ivy League thrive is because of the network they build in those institutes. Build your own diverse peer group. This is of paramount importance. Reach out to people on LinkedIn for guidance. Most of the people are kind.

3. Don’t be scared of failure - This is one thing my parents always told me. And this is the first thing I tell our fellows when they join the GGI community.

Your greatest learnings will happen when you are not in your comfort zone when you are asking ‘dumb’ questions, when you are making mistakes, and when you are over-committing.

And lastly, Travel. It will BLOW your mind! And if you are in your early 20s - and are struggling with money. I will be happy to host you (free of cost) at least in the places where I’m based!

If you are interested in learning about GGI's MBA Scholar program, you can learn here.


Author- Naman Shrivastava, Cofounder Global Governance Initiative, Ex- United Nations, Former Government of India Advisor

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