Dear Readers,

Yesterday, we gave you the following practice topic for WAT – “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is to please everyone.” This question had appeared in the IIM Kozhikode entrance in 2013. In this article, we will look at the correct approach for an essay on this topic and will also cover some important points which may be used in this essay.

Guidelines – How to Approach this Question

· For an abstract topic like this, it is important to pick out some of the primary keywords. In this case, “success”, “failure” and “trying to please everyone” would be the main words and phrases.

· You can use popular quotations on success and/or failure to add relevance to your essay.

· Being a subjective topic, there can be a number of ways to approach it. As long as the logic you use to substantiate your answer is justified, you can choose to address the topic any which way.

What to Write in the Answer

Here are some points which you can use in your essay:

· Introduction: The introduction to your essay can begin with a suitable quote. Oscar Wilde said that success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result. Ideally, you should start by defining success and failure. In the simplest of words, success is an accomplishment in any field, but it is the road to success which is hard to figure out.

· Using a relevant quote by a renowned person will give you an edge. It will make an impressive introduction and also serve as a premise to your essay, on which you can form your successive arguments.

· Main Body: Here you need to discuss the two sides of the topic – the key to success and the key to failure. Below are some sample points.

· The question does not seek a discussion over the key to success; it rather focuses on the key to failure. This way, averting failure would lead to success.

· Key to Failure: “The key to failure is trying to please everyone”. Human beings are social creatures, and in this societal setup, there is usually a hierarchy. To ascend this hierarchical structure, people often try to please their peers. By doing so, not only are they losing their individualities but also their credibility. It is said that honesty is the best policy but in order to please others, people often refrain from putting across their honest opinions and views.

· Why do people try to please others? A majority of people see success in the conventional sense, i.e., in the form of monetary gains, higher positions in the corporate world or other forms of financial gains. By adhering to such a viewpoint, learning becomes secondary. Going after monetary benefits defies the idea of learning or progress. If one’s focus is on learning, one is not bound by any conventional norms of society and thus, will achieve success.

· There can be two broad logics behind people’s urge to please everyone. First, one is not strong enough to have an individual identity, which leads to compliance to popular practices. This becomes a concern of lack of self-respect or inferiority complex. Second, some harbour an ulterior motive – they try to attain material things by making people like them. Either way, it leads to failure in the long run.

· Trying to manipulate people’s views of oneself leads to loss of a unique identity.

· The other side: However, not always does pleasing everyone attached to hidden vices. When we see ourselves as part of bigger units of family or even society, pleasing others becomes a virtue. In NGOs and other social services, the ability to please others is a valuable attribute.

· Conclusion: Depending on the set of points you are citing, a logical conclusion should follow. Whatever the case may be, it is the intent of a person which defines their need to please everyone. If one is free from any corrupt ideas, one’s desire to please everyone can actually contribute to the betterment of society and will not be termed failure.

The next WAT topic is – “Is crime rate in urban India high mainly due to economic disparities?” (IIM Bangalore, 2013)

The answer to the previous WAT Practice Topic is here.

To access the whole series of our WAT articles, you can start here:…

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