Success, failure and Demosthenes

Let’s be honest: exam time can be pretty stressful, not least because it raises the spectre of potentially not getting the results we wanted. While natural talents and abilities can certainly help make things easier, the importance of hard work on the path to success really can’t be overstated.

Sir Edmund Hillary demonstrated this point very well. As he put it, “In some ways I believe I epitomise the average New Zealander: I have modest abilities, I combine these with a good deal of determination, and I rather like to succeed.”

For Hillary, success in reaching the top of Mt Everest was literally a matter of taking it in steps. Metaphorically, though, the same was true for the Greek orator and politician Demosthenes insofar as he undertook a regime of action intended to help himself improve and progress.

According to reports, Demosthenes attempted to overcome the effects of a speech impediment by rehearsing speeches with pebbles in his mouth. He built an underground room so he could avoid disturbing others in his home, and practiced orations against the sound of crashing waves in order to strengthen his voice. He is even said to have fixed a sword to the ceiling and stood underneath it so that he could train himself out of a tendency to lift one of his shoulders while speaking.

Perhaps no less important than hard work on the road to success, though, is the way in which we perceive failing—and there are definitely better and worse ways of perceiving them!

If you would like to learn more about success and failure and helpful ways to think about them, we’ve collected a set resources and videos together. You can check them out here.

Tōku toa he toa rangatira.

My courage is the courage of chiefs.

Flu vaccine stocks update

Already this season, distribution of the influenza vaccine has reached near record levels in Aotearoa New Zealand, which has led to low stock levels. As a result, the Ministry of Health is asking all general practices to prioritise the vaccination of those at the greatest risk of influenza.

Priority groups include:

  • pregnant women
  • children aged 4 and under with serious respiratory illness
  • people with severe asthma, heart disease, diabetes and other serious health conditions that make them susceptible to influenza
  • those aged 65 and over.

The UC Health Centre should have enough influenza vaccines to cover people who would consider themselves to be in one of the above groups.  

Ways to help minimise the spread of influenza

  • Always cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Don’t share drinks
  • Stay at home if unwell.

Manage your stress for better success

“I’m soooooo stressed out right now!” Sound familiar?

It’s not unusual for students to experience anxiety and tension at the thought of sitting exams. Here’s some strategies for putting those nervous energies into study prep or just chilling out between exams.

Prioritise: What are you going to study today and how will you do it? Can some day-to-day tasks be put on hold until after exams?

Reassure yourself: take time out to tell your subconscious that you don’t have a life-threatening situation to deal with so your fear of upcoming exams is not needed. You’ve got a study plan so make yourself feel better by ticking off the tasks as you complete them.

Breathe: When you breathe in make sure the breath out is longer, as long and slow as you can manage. This can really put the brakes on run-away anxiety. Breathe lower down rather than in the upper chest. Put your hands lower than your diaphragm and watch them rise and fall with each breath. Focus, concentrate on breathing in through the nose and slowly exhale. This will lower your blood pressure and change your brainwave pattern from beta (mental activity) to alpha (relaxation).

Reconnect yourself: Make getting into nature a priority – walk amongst trees, have lunch in the sun. Do things that normally give you joy, preferably away from any kind of screen or device. Maybe a yoga session at the RecCentre would be the thing for you.

Find a balance between periods of study concentration, physical relaxation and also fun.

Your study tips 
We asked for your study tips – here’s what you told us…

“Nobody benefits from sitting around stressing out and putting unnecessary pressure on themselves. It’s better to get out and have some fun and come back to it [study] later.” – Ella, second year science student

“Stay positive, if you’re positive, positive results will happen. It’s the law of attraction!” – Isaac, second year law student

“The Zen room [at the UC RecCentre] is my favourite place at uni!” – Verity, second year engineering and arts student

%d bloggers like this: