Thoughts ridden by kash Feb 27, 2007

Do you believe in luck ?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that " Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect". And I strongly believe what he says. Luck is like waiting for something to happen and I don't like to wait for things to happen to me. I make them happen around me. Thats the way life is more exciting and challenging. Its better to go out and grab the opportunities rather than wait for them to be created and customized to your needs. Speaking about customization, when we create opportunities for ourselves we can customize it to our requirements. See ? :-) I guess thats speaking like an engineer.

Me and two of my roommates, Dhruv(D) and Saurabh(S), had a discussion once regarding the belief in luck. We were just returning from a test for a management studies class that we were attending when such a 'brainstorming' session erupted!!

The plot for the discussion was based on the CAT examination. D and S came up with a hypothetical situation ( god knows from where!! ). What they conjectured is that they asked me to imagine a situation during the examination. The situation was that there is only 1 minute left in the exam. You assume that you are seated next to a person who knows more than you and is likely to get a higher percentile than you. You badly want to get a call from IIM-Ahmedabad. You know (assume) that at that moment, you have got 58 correct. You need to 2 more to go past the cutoff for the IIM-A assuming you have achieved all the sectional cutoffs. There is no way you can calculate or answer 2 or more questions in a minute. So will you copy from the person next to you? Will you play the luck game and copy atleast 4 questions so that you might just go past the cutoff ? ( OK, leave aside the ethics of not-copying for the sake of this blog ). The arguments presented by D and S for the motion was like this : if you are lucky then you get all 4 correct, get a call. If you are not then in the worst situation, you might get all 4 wrong and in that case you wont get a call which you would not have if you had not copied. Getting an answer wrong cuts jsut 1/4 mark but a correct answer earns you 1 mark. So even if you get 1 correct and 3 wrong, then you still profit by 1/4 mark which definitely increases your percentile which of course wont get you into an IIM but as well get you into one of the other top 10 institutions.So why not copy and try our luck at it ? If we are lucky, then we might get through.

So here we had this discussion about luck going. In a discussion, it is always fun if there is some opposition to the normal flow of the discussion. I brought in that element of opposition into the discussion. I was riding this line of thoughts : As it is known, the cutoffs for the calls does not remain the same every year. It keeps changing every year as decided by the panel in the institute. Riding the luck, lets just say that the cutoff for that year had been reduced to 58. And your worst luck plays out. You get all 4 wrong on your exam. Your score comes down to 57. You missed out from getting a call from IIM which you could have if you had not copied. You play with the probability and you never know which direction it takes. Just suppose that it did not play in the direction that you wanted, then you actually cut short your way to a successful MBA career. Instead why dont you prepare yourself in such a manner so that you make it past the 60 mark. So if the IIMs decrease the cutoff then you are definitely in and if they increase it, then there is a possibility that you might have achieved that many marks to make you go past the increased cutoff. Why do you want to depend on luck when you have it in your hands to shape your destiny ?

So we had these chain of thoughts before we reached our luncheon outlet. Comment on what you think should be the case ....


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