How to use Adversity to your Advantage ?

I am not a born 99%iler and cracking CAT was not easy for me.

For 2 years, I could barely muster the courage to check my own percentile. I would sit at my table and keep browsing facebook,keep checking Gmail and I would actually used to do everything else just to avoid checking my own percentile.

And when I finally did summon the courage to check it,  my mind would go blank from being so nervous and scared. I would literally forget all my details.

I lost the count of how may tests I failed in my mind without actually checking the percentile even though my actual percentile showed otherwise.

Frankly, all I wanted to do was quit.The constant humiliation from friends and family and fear was just too hair-raising.

This thing reminded me of something important.


The adversities we face in life can make us stronger, and that’s a great thing because life is constant adversity.

That’s how it seems to me, anyway and I believe that most other MBA aspirants would say the same.

You know, a lot of people do MBA because they want a better life. The truth is, life (as I know it anyway) is just a constant series of problems, challenges, obstacles, setbacks, disappointments, and suffering at various levels.

While it’s true that adversity can break some people, the same adversity can cause other people to break records.

There’s a quote from Nietzsche that I love:

“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

The difficulties we face in life help us develop our skills and abilities which inevitably makes us stronger.

In most cases, what matters is what you choose to do with the situation.

In adversity, you really find out what you’re made of when you have to deal with tons of crap at once. By taking on more, not less, you find out what you’re truly capable of.

Now, sometimes you do have moments when you break down or have trouble moving forward.

But remember: skills are developed through adversity.

During the smooth times, when everything comes easily, when you’re not struggling, when you don’t have to pay a large price, you don’t really learn anything. You don’t develop special abilities and talents.

How do I know it ?

Because I have been through it and I learned a lot about myself and the world around me.

I have developed some of my best skills during the worst of my struggles.

But what about most of the people ?

They want to move through life unscathed, like they’re floating on a gentle, peaceful river.

And who can blame them?  

But when you study the lives of the most successful people, you’ll find a common denominator running like a golden thread through their stories: they went through more problems than other people, not fewer. They faced more challenges and struggle than most, and that’s part of how they acquired that level of mastery that enabled them to achieve the level of significance.

Whether you’re broken by adversity or push through it to break records is based heavily on the way that you look at the problems, obstacles, and setbacks. You can either look at them in a good, positive way and decide that they’re not going to beat you and keep moving forward or you can back off.

Back in 2010, when I miserably failed in CAT, my own brother started doing every single thing to discourage me, he was unsuccessful at that point so he started pounding on me. He started projecting his own reality on me.I am sure he really cared about me , still… the way he acted at that point was not really praiseworthy.

All his arguments were just so rational, he was just trying to remind me that I had none of the qualities that it takes to crack CAT.

And he was right. I had none of those qualities then; and 2 years later,I still don’t. But I have learned a lot. Plus, I was willing to do whatever it took to succeed and it did require a tremendous price. I had no idea that it was going to take the kind of price that I’ve had to pay.

I’m not complaining , bitching or whining, I really don’t think that’s a bad thing. But the fact is that back then, I had absolutely no clue what I was going to have to go through in order to get where I am today…and I probably still have a lot more to go through beyond this. I have no idea, thank God. There’s bit of a blessing in being ignorant.

All of these things have to be developed; that’s just reality. But no one likes to talk about adversity. No one likes to admit we’re suffering from it. And yet, we all experience it and it really can make you stronger if we’re willing to use it and learn from it. I think the word “can” is important in this principle.

How you handle those adversities will determine if it’s a growing experience for you or not.

martin-luther-king21Martin Luther King, Jr. once said,

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

This could apply to you in any part of your life. Your ultimate measure in life is in how you handle and respond to challenges, controversies, inconveniences, and things that don’t go your way. It’s easy to pretend that life’s great when things are going well, it’s a lot harder to keep your chin up when you’re up against the wall.

I came across this fabulous article from HBR, I think this article is worth a read


When mocks are going well, percentile is improving and things are about as good as they could be. Everybody is happy.There are no problems to speak of. In those moments, it’s easy to put on a happy face. It’s easy to say that everything is going great and that you’re doing well, isn’t it?

Then, when percentile drops down, when things become hard, the boss doesn’t allow you to take leave or go home,  that same person who was so happy when percentile was good is suddenly irritable to be around. They’ve always got a frown on their face, or they’re always mad. They’re a product of their circumstances, no matter what the circumstances are. When things are well, they’re okay. When things aren’t well, they’re not so okay.

 That’s why the measure of a person is more in how they respond to adversity than how they respond when things are going well. I think that’s the point here: you can be made stronger by adversity, but you have to treat it the right way.

There are all kinds of things that come with success and then and on the flip side of that, there are all kinds of problems that occur when things aren’t going well. How you handle those adversities, how you handle the ups and downs, the challenges will determine your ultimate character. Those things have the opportunities to grow you and make you stronger, but you’ve got to survive them first. You can’t succumb to them.

The ultimate success rate for CAT is about 0.5%; that is, approximately 99.5% of aspirants don’t even get IIM calls except some exceptions of other IIMs ( I am talking about Open category here). Even among the 0.5% that do, many get rejected.Those of who get into IIMs, many of them end up in getting mediocre jobs (not pay-wise, quality of work-wise).There is a lot more pressure to cope up with the relentless competition there. That’s not a cakewalk.

Most of you are not even ready for this stage yet.

springboardAdversities can make you stronger, if you’ll let them and if you’ll work through them and use them as a springboard to future success.

So adversity isn’t a foreign concept; we all deal with it. How you respond to it will determine, ultimately, your success or failure. If you study the biographies of successful people, you’ll see a pattern of them going through some very difficult periods; and yet they got through it all, and in the end things worked out for them. The same thing can happen to you, too.


And just as adversity introduces you to yourself, it also introduces you to the people around you. The best way to find out about other people, and to find out what they’re made of, is go through some difficulty with them.You may be experiencing the immense pain right now,at this moment, your friends are doubting you, your parents are discouraging you, your colleagues are laughing at you, but it doesn’t matter.

Check out this video


You just have to make this happen and then you will be the one standing in the limelight, all your doubters will be clapping at you, the people who laughed at you, now it’s your time to laugh and your parents will be happy to flaunt.

So don’t give any excuses and make it happen.

Consider sharing it on your wall or on your social media accounts and share it with someone who can benefit from this and don’t forget to leave the comment below and show me you really care about your life.


The following two tabs change content below.
Sukrut is a passionate geek, internet visionary and a full time blogger, he has been teaching MBA students from the past two years, he is a chemical engineer by qualification,. Read my full story here



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>