Personal Development

Personal Development criteria

Is it unknown? Is it fearful? Is it difficult? If what you want to do hits those three points then go for it.

I just heard that on a podcast and I think it is awesome.  It’s not mine, apparently, a marine came to this guy’s school at university and gave the class that advice.  Well, I’m making it mine because, well, why not? It’s motivating and a reminder that you need to venture into the unknown if you want to make something happen. Isn’t that what we all want to do in our lives?

Make something happen.

Learning a second language is tough, no question.  It takes dedication, hard-work and persistence.  It’s easy to see the progress at first with greetings, simple requests and exchanges, shopping etc.  But once we get past that, the progress gradually becomes less and less evident. When we finally reach an advanced level, we should be proud but for many of my students the journey continues.

Tony Robbins says that most people dabble in many different hobbies or activities but to truly be happy you need to master something.  When you reach an intermediate level of any language, you are dabbling in the language.  To truly become a master you need to keep going and work even harder.  If you can make that final push, that’s when you reach true happiness.  With language it’s about idioms, phrasal verbs and nuances with intercultural competence.  That means that you need to understand the culture of the people who speak English, in order to acquire the fluency desired.  Examples of this in English are politeness and praise.  English speakers appreciate politeness and value it over directness.  We are sensitive to it.  Other nationalities prefer you to be direct and say exactly what you mean, no tip toeing around.  Praise is also valued and saying you’ve done well and been recognized for your work is how WE work.  Whereas here in Poland I’ve come to understand that criticism is what motivates you to work harder.

“There’s a slight problem boss, the computer system is down!”

“Nothing seems to be working in the office!”

I was wondering if you could please resend me that email with the confirmation of my purchase, thank you!”

It’s important to understand that ‘slight’ here, doesn’t mean ‘a little’ problem.  It means we got a PROBLEM!  NOTHING is working.

Here’s an Americanism I grew up with:

“It’s kind of broken.” “I’m kind of bored’

This softening language is part of the journey to becoming a master in English. Not to mention vocabulary, sentence structure and proper grammar, which ESL speakers seem to have mastered better than natives sometimes 🙂

Be Remarkable

If there was a book about you, would anyone want to read it?

No? Maybe it’s because nobody wants to read about spending hours on social networks on a cell phone, or sitting and watching TV all day, or partying and getting drunk all the time. I learned that late in my youth. The work you put in pays off in the long run. Young people don’t realize or appreciate this.   When I was younger in High School I didn’t have lots of friends.  I was new to America, not a foreigner but not a native either. When I was in 9th grade my mom got my brother and I basketball hoop.  We would roll it out to the end of the driveway and play with my brother just for fun.  I think when I was towards the end of my Sophomore year I would come back from school, roll out that hoop and just start playing on my own.  I did that everyday for a long time.  I didn’t cause trouble or drink and smoke, but I shot that basketball for about two hours every day. One day, I started noticing that my shots were going in, A LOT more often.  So I kept practicing, till I got pretty damn good.  I never joined the school team or an organized basketball team for that matter but I could shoot with the best of them. I realized this, when I started playing with friends from school and was beating them, regularly.

The point is, practice, persistence, and that effort produced results. However, I never pursued anything with it, cause I was scared.  Scared that I wouldn’t make the school team, that nobody would take me seriously that the others were just simply better.  I had no experience, and just like that I convinced myself out of it. Boom, done!

So make something happen, take the plunge and try to be remarkable.  Remarkable is hard, because you must take risks, you will be criticized, people will turn their back on you.  When you are a survivor, you have your story but you also have the knowledge and experience to push you through what before, you thought was impossible.

Face the Fear

When you run, there is a moment where your brain is telling you to stop.  You are tired it says, you are going to get injured it says, you’re in the danger zone. That moment, that is your defining moment. That’s when you keep going and fight through.  An ultra-marathoner I met once told me “You’d be surprised at what the body can take!”

I’ve never forgotten it.

The same applies to life, to teaching, to learning, to studying, you’d be surprised at what you can accomplish and how far you can reach when you push through.  It’s a moment, like the run, when you’re about to stop and start walking, but you dig deep and keep on going and before you know it you’re clear on the other side.  In education, we need to start doing more, and complaining less.

If you are a student, and you complain, then own it and take action.  What are you doing about it?

If you are a teacher, and complaining, what are you doing about it?

That’s when remarkable comes in. People forget that it’s the time and effort we put in that pays off years later. Go towards the fear and do exactly what you are fearful of, go towards the unknown, go, towards the difficult.

Make it happen

I’ve come to realize that a lot of the private students I have, are highly motivated to improve their English language skills.  They do work, they come prepared, they take notes, week in week out, they are committed and that’s why they are in high places already.  Nevertheless, they are not sitting around, they are continuing to improve, and they attend our lessons and don’t cancel. I have some corporate lessons where many don’t come, but for the companies I’ve been at for years, there is always 1-3 employees who attend every lesson.  They have a well-paid job, the company offers English lessons free of charge and they attend, every, lesson.  It’s remarkable. You know why? Because their English is already very good, they are mostly advanced speakers, but if you want to be a master, there is hard work to be done still, and they clearly feel they can do more…..It’s impressive! Remarkable, that even though they have established themselves at a successful company they come ready to work and improve their advanced English.

It is a privilege to teach those people.  Those students, get my undivided attention and motivate me to keep delivering quality lessons.

As a teacher, I try to find that new challenge, something I never have taught before, or to people who require a very specific skill in the language and I seek them out and offer my services.  At the start I didn’t know how I would deliver what they wanted, but just like the leadership class this past summer, I’ve tried my hardest to meet those expectations and go even further.

Is it unknown? Is it fearful? Is it difficult?

That’s my criteria.

Let’s get to work.

Let’s make it happen.

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education, effort, Goals, growth mindset, personal development, taking action
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Whatever you do, whatever your job is, there’s a desire to do it better. If it’s not a job than it is a hobby or simply to be a better friend, coworker, person or human being. The desire is real and there’s a craving to satisfy it that is indescribable to most of us. We set boundaries on ourselves, come up with excuses and avoid the question. But no matter how hard anyone of us tries the desire to improve remains and will never vanish.

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