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If You Want to Fail (Badly and Permanently), Demand Certainty

Fear. Shame. A desire to cower in a corner and disappear forever. These are emotions I know all too well. 🙁

Success so big and bad that people think it and I am miraculous? I also have some experience with that. 😉

Many parts of the spectrum have I seen and and considered.

The thing that most people either fail to realize (or are loathe to admit) about pessimism is that it’s comforting because it gives us certainty. But if you want to succeed in any field, including learning (=getting used to) a language, you need to become comfortable with radical uncertainty.

We are (I think) predisposed and (I know) conditioned to seek and even demand certainty. We crave it. Studies have shown that the public at large prefer a decisive person who is wrong to an indecisive person who is right. This is understandable, we all want to feel safe, but it is a mistake.

Embracing radical, fundamental, ongoing uncertainty is the key to success. I’m talking deep levels of uncertainty. Embrace it, like you embrace the fact that you’re 30 meters underwater with strangers when you’re diving. Drink it all in. Take out your regulator and just glug glug glug.

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah — uncertainty.

When you’re comfortable with uncertainty, you can take consistent action without worrying about exactly where, when and how you will be rewarded for it.

If you want to even have a chance at specific success, you need to get comfortable with general action. You can’t do surgery before you’re a surgeon. You can’t be a sharpshooter until you’re first just a regular shooter. And that, in large part, means shooting a lot of bullets. A lot. More than you can count. More than seems natural. Until when? Until. As long as it takes.

What’s that? That’s too long? That’s too much uncertainty? Oh, I’m sorry, are you too happy, healthy and wealthy to get any happier, healthier or wealthier? Or are you too much of a sick, depressed loser to become less of a sick, depressed loser?

😉

You’re never too dirty to take a bath, mate.

When will you get fluent? Nobody quite knows exactly. Not even you. Everybody — every body is bit different. All we know for certain is that you won’t get fluent by avoiding the language (that’s a guarantee), and that you’re highly unlikely to get fluent by doing boring things (that’s an heuristic).

You can’t directly control your results, but you can directly control your actions, and turn them to actions that are more likely to cause the results you want. And when you write it down and say it out loud as I just have, that kind of statement can seem so simple as to be barely worth writing or reading, but if life has taught me one thing (and it’s done at least that), it’s that nothing goes without saying. Everything needs to be explained (now, some things can’t be explained [the next time some jabroni, sorry, cognitively challenged individual of infinite worth, asks me to define what “fun” is, I will choke them to put them out of their own misery] and some things are made worse by explanations, but there you go).

So, don’t worry too much about your results. In fact, most of the time, don’t even think about your results. Focus on your actions. Focus on your direction. Trite? Yes. True? Also yes.

  1 comment for “If You Want to Fail (Badly and Permanently), Demand Certainty

  1. Cush El
    May 7, 2020 at 02:36

    Great post, but do you have any new language learning techniques?

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