Broadly speaking, there are two modes in the sport that is language.
- Practice time
- Game time.
I’m not just pointing this out in order to create filler content here. I’m not doing this for my health. I’m making this distinction because far too many people get practice time and game time confused.
They come to practice with the haughty, cagey, know-it-all, calculating self-assuredness that works best in the game, and then when it comes to game time, they’ve suddenly changed their legal surname to Humble.
These are the people who, during practice time, are too good to seek advice, to listen to it, to try out new ideas and techniques that might help their sorry behinds 1, but when it comes to speaking to real Japanese people about real Japanese stuff where real time and real money are on the line, they clam up. They have a conveniently scheduled panic attack. They’re far king helpless. They go fetal. “Intense face” gives way to puppy dog eyes. They run to mommy-girlfriend — they’re hiding behind her skirt; they want an interpreter; their once-wheelbarrow-sized unisex ovaries shrivel up.
The time to be humble is during practice time. The time carry your cojones in a wheelbarrow is during game time.
Practice time is where you go to find your weaknesses. Game time is where you go to hide them, to work around them, to win, to score at all costs.
Practice time and game time can be fluid; they aren’t necessarily set in proverbial stone. Even a relationship with the same person can shift from practice to game and back depending on time, place and occastion.
Whenever the person you’re with has both the time and the will to correct you, it’s practice time. Whenever they lack either of these, it’s game time: it’s time to use what you know and what works to get the job done; it’s time for surgical strike.
Both practice time and game time require courage, but a different kind of courage. Practice time requires inner courage — the courage to eat humility and drink shame in public. Game time requires poker-faced outer courage — the courage to act as if the world belongs to you and you have the right to walk anywhere you want in it.
Just to make things clearer for you, let’s compare and contrast 2 some more practice time / game time distinctions in terms of direction, attitude, core concepts and questions:
Practice Time = Learn
Game Time = Get Stuff Done
So, practice time and game time. Get them straight. Keep them straight,
When you’re trying to get stuff done, it’s game time. Don’t be clever for the sake of being clever, don’t try out that new word you don’t quite know yet, work well within your repertoire, go for the goal, get the thing done. Get the package/email sent; get the ticket bought; win the negotiation; settle the deal; get on the right train.
Practice joyfully, lavishly, with childlike abandon, so that you can rightfully hold your head up high and get things done like an adult during game time. Put your baby face on during practice, so you can wear a true poker face during the game. Earn the right to be serious by first being playful.
[Update: 2011/9/10: AJATTeer Neoglitch suggests better terminology -- I prefer his word choice to mine. Executive summary.
- Practice Time = Game Time
- Game Time = Show Time
I personally don’t like Khatz’s wording on this one.
I would rather name “practice time” (or the training grounds) as Game Time, the time where you just goof around, enjoy yourself to the max, learn (and practice) like crazy, make mistakes, learn from them… and you just play mainly to have fun, whether you “lose” or not.
And I would name Khatz’s “game time” (the boss battles!) as… Show-Time! The time where you actually show-off what you have been learning and practicing, and stick strictly to the language “moves” that you need to “win” (instead of trying to be fancy).
(you know the kind, it’s the militant know-it-alls with eloquent complaints like:
- “MCDs are for faggots!”
- “this is too technical!”
- “I am NOT giving up my music for Japanese music! Sorry, buddy — Ben Folds Five is part of who I AM!”
- No, kid. Ben Folds Five is a part of who Ben Folds Five is…are…was…were. At best, you’re just one of their customers; it’s their band; it’s their music; they exist independently of you — you’re the replaceable one.
- “why do I have to listen to stuff I don’t understand?!”
- “why do I have to write kanji?!?”
- Woohoo! Schoolese phrase… :P ↩
- redundant duplication ↩