I got this email from a former student a couple of days ago. I thought maybe I would post the question and the response in case they might be of help to others.

Dear Mr. Wise:

Hello there. I hope you are doing fine. I am not sure if you still remember me. I used to be one of your students. I am currently in the UK doing hospitality and business management. I am going through a difficult spell just now and I am just wondering about my degree. I am kind of getting bad results in my first year (pass or D/C/B) and even if try my best to score in year 2 and 3, is it still possible to get a first class degree? Do certificates really matter? And why do people look down on hospitality courses? Is it not academic enough? Please give me some motivation and advice.

Sorry Millie: 

I have been off for a couple of days with Deepavali and Muslim New Year. I tend not to open email that comes to my work address while I am holiday, because that just gets me thinking about work. That is one of my Strategies for Sanity. Here are the others:

Strategy #1: Prioritize: Write down a list of the things that you need to do and rank them in order of importance. Usually watching television will be the last thing on your list. I hardly ever get there, unless it is a really slack time in my life. Then do the things on your list in the order of priority. Always do the most important thing on your list first, even if it is the hardest thing to do. In time this listing process will become internal and habitual.

Strategy #2: Compartmentalize: do the thing that is in front of you now. Don’t even think about the other things that you are not doing because you are doing that thing. When you get to the next thing, do that with all your attention as well, and don’t think about the last thing – how well you did, if others liked it, yada,yada – just doing as best as you can the thing that you are presently doing. Do each thing you do with the same level of concentration and commitment and before you know it you will be doing many things well

Strategy #3: Rest: Never work for more than 55 minutes before getting up to fix a cup of tea. But keep the break to 5 minutes, then get back to work. Life is short and there is much to do.

Strategy #4: Visualize: Remind yourself of the long view from time to time. Talk about it with yourself and with others. The more you talk about your goals the more real they will become. It is of absolutely no consequence what others think about what your goals are. They don’t know you, they aren’t living your life; you are. Keep your dreams alive by discussing your plans with others and be prepared to listen to their dreams as well, for this is how we build a network of friends and allies who will support us.

Strategy #5: Laugh: God gave us this life to enjoy, so enjoy it. Laugh at the folly of life and your own weaknesses. Laugh at the silly self-important posturing of egotists, especially those in positions of power. Don’t they know that one day they too will stand naked before God to be judged by their Creator? Laughter is a great leveler and stress reliever.

Strategy #6 Accept yourself: For all your faults and limitations you are the person your Creator intended to make when He made you. He also built in you an enormous capacity to grow and become more than you presently are. But if He is prepared to accept you now for the way you now are, shouldn’t you as well? Yes you do stupid things; we all do. Only the truly stupid fail to understand how truly stupid we all are. So what? Stupid is part of who we are. So is creative, persevering, stubborn, forgiving, forgetful, caring, callous, naughty and nice. God loves us anyway. Let’s just accept that and do the best we can with what He has given us.

You will notice that all of this things have to do with ‘doing’ stuff, and very little of it has to do with ‘being.’ That is because “We are what we repeatedly do,” in Aristotle’s immortal phrase. Don’t worry about the ‘being’ part; it will take care of itself. Concentrate on the doing, and you will become.

All the best!