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Not Nothing

This entry is part 2 of 11 in the series Mediocre Excellence

Don’t do a good job, do a job.

Don’t get it right.

Don’t get it done.

Get it started.

It’s not surgery. Yes, you can be this lax and still win. I did. Nice, huh?

Don’t aim for perfection. Don’t even aim for excellence. Just aim for “better than nothing”. Aim for “not nothing”. Do “not nothing”. The time-averaged sum of “not nothings” will give you the excellence you seek.

As my good friend Jang Mi once said the other week: “two wrongs don’t make a right, but two halves make a whole” 😛 . And a trillion millionths make a million.

Series Navigation<< Mediocre Excellence, Or, Excellence By Mediocrity: How To Achieve Greatly By Doing Almost NothingBirthlines, Part 3: If You Want To Win, Stop Trying To Finish >>

  8 comments for “Not Nothing

  1. September 30, 2011 at 11:29

    Why are all your posts probing into my mind and telling me exactly what I needed to hear?

  2. ライトニング
    September 30, 2011 at 15:55

    Good post, it sort of ties in the post you made a while back about just doing 1.

  3. でぶ
    October 1, 2011 at 12:53

    I have a question on a matter that is quite serious to me. I don’t know how, but somehow I managed to forget too many Kanji. I mean, when I do reviews, Honestly…I get probably 40-50% wrong. I’ve been on sentences for around 6 months. Has this ever happened to anybody before? It’s really been worrying me, and I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve been wondering if I should just go back to square 1 and just start from RTK1 again.
    For anybody who’s far enough in sentences in Japanese, has this happened to you? I mean, when you read something like 不明, you don’t think “Negative bright”, you think はっきり分からない事。 Or 勉強, you don’t think “Exertion strong.” Should I still be able to remember the heisig keywords for kanji?
    If I have to start from square 1, I will, But I don’t want to make any decision unless I am sure I need to fix it.

    • SomeCallMeChris
      October 1, 2011 at 13:45

      You should certainly not think ‘negative bright’ or ‘exertion strong’ when looking at 不明 and 勉強… you should be thinking ふめい and べんきょう and their meanings, which seems to be what you’re doing. And of course, if someone puts the proverbial gun to your head (or your flashcards have English answers on them) then you should think ‘uncertain’ and ‘study’ or whatever your favorite short equivalents are. RTK is a memory exercise to create a mental box for each kanji. Once you have a few real words for each kanji you can forget the keyword and have no reason to care – it’s not a definition, it’s not a vocabulary word the kanji can mean, it’s just a mnemonic to let you remember the kanji you need to read Japanese long enough to learn how to read Japanese. The real words -should- replace the artificial keywords.
      If, on the other hand, you are forgetting the keywords for kanji that you do not have any vocabulary for … then you may be getting yourself into trouble, but it sounds like what you have is the natural replacement of mnemonics with real understanding.

      (This is also why you were supposed to only drill keyword->kanji and not vice versa – so that you could more easily attach correct meanings to kanji when you look at them and not have to ‘unlearn’ the keyword. Your keyword->kanji retention ought to last pretty well, but there’s no way your kanji->keyword retention would stand any chance at all against the onslaught of real words taking up residence on that mental tag if you’re actually reading every day.)

    • Drewskie
      October 1, 2011 at 15:35

      Be sure to remember Heisig’s comparison of RtK to a scaffolding with which you learn to actually use kanji. Don’t worry about forcing keywords into actual words; it’s supposed to fade naturally over time, to the point where it’ll actually feel strange, even difficult to go back and force a keyword on a kanji.

      For example, when I see 日, I don’t think “day”. I think of 日本、お日様、土曜日、一日一善、etc. etc. A large amount of words and phrases overlap with 日, so much so that the hook they all originally latched onto, “day”, is no longer relevant. You could also think of it as a building: You lay foundation so you can build a house over it, not so you can admire the concrete.

  4. October 1, 2011 at 23:36

    What a timely posting, right as I’m trying to “finish” a stupidly long essay that’s been tormenting me for ages. I won’t finish, I won’t get it right, I’ll just type some more. That’s all, just type some more. Thanks Khatz.

  5. October 13, 2011 at 07:43

    So true- as I am trying to learn at least one or a few kanji on insanely busy days… 🙂
    P.S. AJATTさん, Why you no on Facebook?

  6. Freddy
    October 15, 2011 at 00:06

    I like it! To the point. Now I’ll go back to studying. Thanks for the motivator.

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