The biggest lottery

I won only one lottery in my life — and it changed everything.

My father grew up in an impoverished village in UP, surviving on subsistence farming. Yet, despite attending a local village school, he managed to land a job in the armed forces. That stroke of luck changed everything.

Had I grown up in the village, I would probably have never gone to college.

However, because of my dad’s job, I got free education in Kendriya Vidyalayas. We had enough money for basic necessities, but not more. In fact, when my dad retired, due to some adverse financial events, we had less than Rs 1 lakh left in the bank.

Despite that, we had a very healthy upbringing and education, without the distraction of money or luxuries.

That gave me the biggest gift one can get — hunger and a no-excuse mindset. I developed a fierce ambition to never settle for anything less than the best you can get.

I also learned early on that if you want something in life, slog for it — don’t blame others.

When I wanted to do engineering, I was prepared to slog to get into IIT instead of going for an easy option. When I wrote the Civil Services exam, I opted only for the top 3 services. Even when I applied for an MBA, I applied only to the top 5 schools.

Does ambition come with downside? Of course, it does. But that is the choice you have to make.

Having enough money for good education and upbringing, but not so much that it made me complacent — that was my biggest lottery.

– Rajan

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