Do you ever feel that everything has been working in your favour, or that all the world is against you? Do you ever thank your good fortune, or blame your bad luck? I wouldn’t, if I were you.
The world owes us no favours and has got no opinion about us; it is neither well nor ill disposed towards us. Our achievements come down to serendipity, but our failures?
Our failures haven’t been due to the world around us, or to other, toxic people beside us. They’ve been due to our having lacked enough good-quality information at the times we needed it.
And it’s up to you whether you get and benefit from the direct experiences and personal reflections of the others out there.
From The Nineteenth Chapter of the First Book of Kings.
A strong wind came to me on a mountain, but there was no inspiration for me in the wind, then an earthquake, but there was no inspiration in that, then a fire, but there was no inspiration in that, then a sound of muttering voices, but there was no inspiration in those. Finally, there came to me an inspiring silence.
Learning is not about someone shouting lots of information at us whether we want it or not. It is about our choosing “to go to the mountain”, becoming still, keeping quiet, and paying attention.
Pleasure comes before business.
Thought is not the enemy of action, it is the pre-requisite of any worthwhile deed.
Rehearse your lines, and watch your steps!
If you want something badly done, do it entirely by yourself.
Nothing: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Something: If something is really worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.
Anything: There isn’t anything completely new, under the sun.
Many: Many hands will make light work.
All: Let’s not put all our eggs in one basket!
Let’s get some more sanity around here!
(B.T.W., Sanity equals Hope minus “Idées Reçues”).
If you want the people to understand you, you do not need bags of old-fashioned jargon, or lots of fancy grammar, or loads of long sentences. Just open your mouth, breathe slowly and project!
What are your resolutions for the new year?
Are you going to apply for a new job?
Are you going to go on a long journey to a new place?
Are you going to read up on the latest developments?
Are you going to spend more time on new projects?
Are you going to write to new friends and colleagues?
Are you going to think more about the future?
Are you going to speak more in English?!
A person who lives in folly will be deeply self-absorbed, over-ambitious, inconsistent, flighty, and unreliable. Such a person will learn little, and achieve little.
A wise person will look outwards, be realistic, committed and consistent. A wise person can learn a lot and achieve a lot.
Are you hasty and flighty in your learning, or are you prepared to persevere at it? Choose to be wise; choose perseverance!
Perhaps, the most important use of English today is international communication with business colleagues. Writing seems to be declining rapidly in importance, along with spelling, punctuation and grammar, but understanding the spoken language and pronouncing it clearly remain vital.
Listening and speaking have to go hand in hand, but trying to speak with no understanding, no vocabulary, seems a pointless putting of a cart before a horse. If you have to speak English, you should learn enough (spoken) vocabulary before you try to do so.
And if you need to improve quickly, it is still essential to get a human teacher who can handle a standard accent, preferably on a one-to-one basis. You are just not likely to improve quickly unless you get down to some serious study. But you don’t have to spend loads of time in an English-speaking country if you want to speak the language well.
Life is always to be changed for the better, but any attempt at self-improvement that lacks a firm foundation will lead only to muddle, frustration and depression.
Truly effective speech and action depend on clear thinking, and clear thinking depends on careful looking and listening. Just seeing is not looking; just hearing is not listening. Seeing and hearing are merely browsing the (possibly fake) news all around us. Neither is looking the same as gazing obsessively at anything; nor listening, attending fanatically to anyone.
Looking and listening require recollection in tranquillity; they are not the work of a moment. Stop, listen and learn! Look before you leap!