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The University of Southampton
Doctoral College

Dear Bashir,

This letter is written from the benefit that only the future’s critical lens provides. It is hard sometimes to put a more experienced head on those shoulders that are still learning life’s difficult lessons but it is shared with the best intention and I hope received as such.

Dear Bashir,

What would you want your younger self to know?

It is true that we learn by experience and we all develop as individuals based on the people, situations and circumstances we encounter as we progress through our life and career.

The most important lesson in relation to both these aspects is resilience. When we work hard and good things happen as a result of our efforts we can be duly proud and look back with a sense of achievement based on our success. When we work hard and the good things do not happen as quickly or effectively as we would like, it is easy to become discouraged or disheartened. It is important to remember those achievements most important to us do not happen without a degree of struggle or challenge simply because of what they mean to us. If we are apathetic, we do not worry particularly about the outcome but if we are committed, energised and eager for success – we do.

I do not underestimate how much setbacks may impact you as they arise but part of this impact is positive, although we do not always see it. It is these specific experiences that will motivate you, enlighten you, encourage you to try again and ultimately secure your success.

When faced with the fact that the planned experimental validation for 1 ½ years of research hypothesis was not feasible at the last minute when the equipment supplier pulled out, take heart that whilst this represented a major obstacle, you needed to think of an alternative simulation-based validation approach and did so successfully. The skills you gained from learning this new approach were fundamental in securing a research position within industry and this helped to build the foundation for an accelerated academic career. Whilst we cannot read the future, this example illustrates how negative energy transforms into positive energy when we re-focus on how we use an uncomfortable experience to good effect. This is how we learn from the experiences we each face and why they are important to our journey. They inform how we grow and flourish as academics when we may not always see this at the time.

When things do not go your way and not for the want of trying, recall these words to help you see the wider picture. You will not be unique in your experience and you will learn by seeking the help and advice of others. Some of these key people will become major influences on you and what you do and you, in turn, will then be able to reciprocate by offering the same opportunity to others.

Listen. Learn. Listen again and help others to learn. I hope these few words will set the scene for a challenging but ultimately rewarding research career. You deserve nothing less.

Yours sincerely,


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