“Logistics is the management of the flow of the goods, information and other resources in…in order to meet the requirements of customers. Logistics involves the integration of information, transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, and packaging…Logistics is a channel of the supply chain.” — The Pedia Of Wikiness
It’s a well-meaning word. It means well. It wasn’t trying to hurt you; it wasn’t trying to lead you astray.
But think of everything that that word implies: struggle…diligence…wooden desks…obedience…a bit more struggle.
You know what, though? That’s not even the worst thing about the word “learner” with regard to language acquisition. The worst thing about it is that it’s racist…Wait, no.
The worst thing about it is that it’s inaccurate. It’s inappropriate. It does not actually describe the character and behavior that causes the desired effect. “Learning” Japanese does not cause you to become proficient at Japanese.
You’re like: “Hold on…what?”
That’s right. To the extent that the word “learn” often comes loaded with connotations of boredom, textbooks, confusion and more boredom, you don’t get good at Japanese by “learning” it. You get good at Japanese by getting used to it. In fact, for all intents and purposes, good at = used to.
I wish I didn’t suck at writing. I wish I could just make you see it the way it appears in my head. But I can’t. Never fear. Let me try to break it down for you anyway.
- Environment → Habit → “Used to” = Good At
Habit is a function of environment. The environment variables are inputs and habit is the output. Whatever is in your environment is what you will get used to, is what you will get good at, is what you will learn (in the truest sense of the word).
OK, so what does this mean for someone trying to get good at Japanese? Just this:
Stop calling yourself a learner. Start calling yourself a facilitator. Start calling yourself a logistics officer.
You are a manager. You serve your body — especially the eyes and ears. Your task is to ensure the unfettered flow of information, materials, supplies and other resources in the general direction of your eyes and ears.
It’s like food. Think about it. You don’t go — “hey, I’m gonna do some peristalsis now”. No. Your body does that. You just make sure there’s stuff to work on. You get the food delivered to your mouth at certain times of day. But the rest is kind of out of your hands. It’s not your job.
Acquiring a language is similar. You don’t have to be nearly as deliberate and involved as you think. You’re just a glorified delivery guy. The logistics officer. The supply chain manager. You don’t have to worry about what happens to the package; there are other people whose job that is; you just deliver it.
Simply wanting to get good at [= get used to] Japanese doesn’t directly result in getting good at it. What does? Creating and maintaining local physical environments does. Because local physical environments tend to overpower “outcome desires” when it comes to the immediate causes of behavior. Most of the time, you sit in the chair that’s there, not in the chair that should be there or that you wish were there. Mmm…there are some massive logical holes in this argument, but hopefully you get what I’m getting at.
What does that mean, really? It means that…if you desire a certain outcome, don’t waste your time desiring that outcome. Spend your time desiring environmental inputs that inevitably cause that outcome. Don’t wish to be good at Japanese, start wishing for and putting yourself in situations — in physical environments — that, over time, in terms of probability, make it very difficult to not be good at Japanese. This is that “stochastic inevitability”.
How do you create and maintain physical environments? Easy. Logistics. Supply lines. So, for Japanese, you make it so that your eyes and ears are getting tasty chunks of Japanese supplied to them — consistently, frequently, endlessly. You do your part. You do your job. Nature does the rest.
Don’t ask whether you’re getting good at Japanese. Ask what’s getting in your face. That’s the question that matters, because it’s the question that answers just about everything else.
If everything that hit your face were stuck there forever, piling on like layers of dust, how much Japanese would be stuck there? How thick would that grime be?
The Japanese word for 1 logistics is “物流” (butsuryuu). It literally means “the flow of things”. What is the flow of things into your life? Into your face? Are those things Japanese? These are the questions that matter.