Jul 28, 2007

The factors of success

Rashmi has a good roundup of the recent disclosures by IIM Bangalore. She then says:

Someone should now study the co relation between ranks at the time of admission
and ranks while on campus. And ten years later, co relate the same two ranks with the individual's performance in the corporate world. I am sure some formula taking into account size of company, designation, pay packet, role, reporting relationships and so on could be figured out as a metric of 'success'.The analysis should include a 33% weightage to an interview where personal satisfaction and that elusive thing called 'quality of life' is factored in.

We've wondered also in B School and later, who would be 'successful' later. Eight years later, I can seriously say that there is no correlation between success in the classroom and success in the work place.

That's because success in life and career depends on three things, intellectual capital (for which there are metrics a.k.a. marks from 10th, 12th, graduation, PG), social capital (which focusses on how you get along with others, and can focus on the emotions of others and empathise with them) which are judged very imperfectly through Group Discussions, and references. But the most important thing for success is taking a decision. After all the analysis, the thought, the deliberations, a manager or entrepreneur has to take a decision and therefore take an action.

That involves taking a leap of faith. That can't be foretold by any test or even by observation in a GD. The only data that can predict this is looking at past actions and how many people have taken that leap of faith. Such instances are rare in the life of a person who is sitting for an exam like the CAT or XAT without ever having worked in the past.

In my batch, when I look at successful people, I observe people who were the bottom 25% of the class along with people who were the top 25% of the class too. I see very intelligent classmates stagnating in their roles either having made the wrong career choices or having a cruel organizational restructuring subvert their roles.

Yes, luck is also a big factor. That is what makes life so unpredictable and therefore much richer to experience :-) One does not always appreciate it when that is happening to oneself, but in hindsight, luck makes the personal, the individual side of us, shorn of intellect and reason, more resilient.

Do you agree? Has luck played a role in your career? What can you do to increase your luck? I have a theory, but I'd like to hear from you :-)