Success is the Progressive Realisation of a Worthy Ideal
- Earl Nightingale (1950) -
Statistics lend support to the fact that the selection percentage at the SSB for all entries continues to be unexpectedly low. Despite concrete initiatives to enhance the number of candidates by increasing entries for officer selection by all the three Defence Services, the trend has not been reversed.
As regards Selection of the Service Entry candidates, dedicated efforts, insensitivisation and comprehensive training to develop the personality in house has not produced the desire results.
This reality is the cause of concern as deficiency in officers’ cadre in all three Defence services continue to exist. A holistic analysis to identify the causes and suggest measures to improve the State is the need of the Hour.
In Part I of the Blog I will cover the Non-Service Entry Selection Process. Experience shows that there is no dearth of aspirants to join the Defence Services. However their performances at the SSB are not up to the desired level.
Reasons for Under Performance
Lack of Clarity
In absence of any official feedback on the performance of the candidates they find it very difficult to analyze their weaknesses. And therefore it gives rise to speculation and individual deductions. this aggravates the situation further and hampers the orientation of the candidates for the SSB.
The SSB procedure remains shrouded with ambiguity as there are no guidelines for candidates who are desirous of joining the Defence forces.
The very nature, techniques, and selection methodology for selection of candidates prohibits any indication of the actual conduct of SSB. Attempts to mentor/guide and give an insight into the selection philosophy is detrimental and non desired.
However in order to exploit this lack of information and to fill the information void many coaching academies have mushroomed. In addition there is endless information on the internet. To add to this is the unsolicited views of candidates who have been to the SSB and veterans and serving officers.
Such overload of information based on unsubstantiated and varying analogies add to the confusion and creates anxiety and fear psychosis in the candidates.
Lack of Preparation
While there is a dedicated effort, and well orchestrated and add campaigns to reach out to the youth and motivate them to join the Defence Services. It has been the experience of the SSB that the target audience has not benefitted from such efforts. Lack of awareness prohibits preparations and mental stamina to undergo the SSB.
Perception Regarding SSB
SSB Interview is different from any other job interviews. Emphasis is on personality assessment and qualities required by the leaders which are known as Officer Like Qualities.
Defence Services is not a job but a way of life and therefore it must be understood that the skill sets required are different from any other job.
It is not a test in the sense that hire percentages will get selected but those candidates who have requisite qualities can only get recommended. It is observed that the candidates fail to appreciate this difference and prepare for the SSB as they would be preparing for any other exam.
This tends to obscure their original personality and performance. It must be remembered that there are no correct or wrong answers in SSB and therefore quick-fix answers do not work.
General Weaknesses in Candidates
While it is desirable that the candidate at the SSB project their natural self and original personality and therefore dissuaded and discouraged from seeking un-authentic guidance.
There are areas which they are expected to come prepared with adequate standards. But generally it has been found weak in the following areas.
Most of the candidates lack basic physical fitness standards. Some have been found to be obese.
Candidates knowledge and awareness is far from being satisfactory. They at times are not able to answer important events, headlines and current affairs.
Power of Expression
This has been found to be a major weakness in majority of the candidates. They are unable to convey their ideas and thoughts.
Due to the invasion of electronic gadgets, mobiles and internet, there is a tendency to remain indoors and therefore the Interpersonal skills are getting dwarfed. Candidates find increasingly difficult to give their best in group activities.
Problem Solving Abilities
Application of theoretical knowledge to solve simple problem which may occur on a daily basis is relatively very low. There is a tendency to produce pre conceived or coached solutions which mars the creative thinking of the candidate.
Weak Cognitive Skills
It has been observed that there is lack of grasp absorption and receptivity which results in inability to recall and retain information.
a) Inappropriate body language
b) Lack of practical intelligence
c) Inability to come forward with new ideas and solutions
d) Tendency to dawn a mask in order to prevent actual personality to be exposed.
e) Heavy dependence on preconceived ideas and answers to overcome lack of self confidence and self beliefs.
In view of the foregoing, suggested preparation strategy for the aspirants is given in succeeding paragraphs.
It is advisable that the preparations to face the SSB start in the right earnest and starting early is a key to success and therefore highly recommended.
Developing personality and the officer like quality demands sustained efforts spread over a period of time. Candidate should not wait to start preparing after they receive their Call Letters as it may turn out to be too late.
Develop Inter Personal Skills
As an Officer in the Defence forces it is a norm to work in a team. Wars are not won individually but it’s a team work and therefore it is prudent to become a good leader the aspirants should have effective inter-personal skills.
This need to be developed by taking part in group activities, outdoor activities like adventure sports and other group activities.
Ability to function in a group, enhances its cohesiveness and ensuring achievements/goals has to be inculcated.
This requires ability to understand people, effective inter-personal communication and Tact to deal with different individuals. This develops over a period of time.
Needless to say, that a healthy body houses a healthy mind. Physical fitness improves the body language and visible personality of a person. Regular and variety of physical exercises enhances creativity, confidence, stamina both mental and physical, and a balanced mind and body.
Leadership demands ability to work efficiently under stress and sustained period of time. Hence, being physical and mentally fit is an elixir.
In a survey carried out, as to which are the essential skills required in the aspirants for the job, communication skill figured to be foremost. In the same survey when the question was posed to the employers as to which is that skill where the candidates are found weak, ironically on the top of the list was lack of communication skill.
This survey clearly brings out the predominance of possessing a good communication skill to achieve not only the positive result in the SSB but also for success in life.
All aspirants are advised to enhance their knowledge base by reading, writing, listening, observing and interacting with people. This would develop their clarity of thought, perception, positive outlook and right attitude.
These are so to say are essential ingredient of a good leader. All sensory faculties like EFFECTIVE LISTENING, OBSERVATION, & APPLICATION OF MIND should be employed for acquiring the knowledge.
Value System and Moral Standards: The aspirants should be mindful of their thoughts and actions to achieve their goals. To develop good values and moral standards it is important to Meditate for right and balanced thinking, Eat mindfully, keep phone and computer time in check and spend time in nature
Improve General Awareness & General Knowledge
In order to prepare for any competitive exam leave alone the SSB, an aspirant is required to equip themselves with the knowledge and information of important events of the world and our country.
General awareness and General Knowledge is important to project ones objective to achieve a certain goal. General Knowledge helps a person grow on confidence level, and achieve better grades in exam and interview and enhanced academic levels.
It is important to know in general a little of everything that happens around which enables one to be well up for a healthy discussion. Lack of General knowledge and General Awareness can actually constrain social interaction and make one look ignorant and stupid.
The above are the guidelines to achieve success in SSB in particular and improvement in quality of life in general. Personal development is the continuous and an ongoing process.
The degree of personal development and success is contingent upon the Will Power, Motivation, Enthusiasm, Perseverance, Dedication and the Spirit of Never Giving Up. To self develop one will have To Rise Above ones Comfort Zone.
Success as defined means the achievement of desired visions and planned goals. Everybody are genius but
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world”- Gandhi
For SSB Guidance and Information head over to: The Winning Edge
(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')