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|- 8 Steps for Success
You just need 3 things: kindness, patience, and perseverance.
Being kind to yourself does not mean making excuses or not challenging
On the contrary, life is full of challenges, and being kind to yourself means
setting goals, knowing how far to push, and enjoying each
accomplishment to the full.
Kindness is not necessarily soft and yielding. It can also be very rewarding
when it is firm. Demand yourself to speak English, make that firm decision,
and you’re halfway there.
A few years ago, I attended a yoga class regularly at a venue that was
separated from the parking lot by a beautiful garden with a winding path.
Every Tuesday, I’d park my car and walk through the garden to my class,
and just outside the door, sitting behind a desk, was Wences, the
housekeeper who wrote our names down on a list and charged us for the
Wences was a lovely man, but he had a terrible memory. So, every
Tuesday, he’d ask everyone for their names again, and write them down
as if he’d never heard them before!
One day, as I approached, he welcomed me with: “I know your name
today! It’s Tanya Meyer!”, and I laughed and said, “Yes! That’s right,” as I
handed him the money for the class. He took it, and then, searching for
my change in the box, he said, “but to me, you will always be “Pilar” (Pilar
is a common name in Spanish).
“Oh?” I replied, curious about what association he might be making
between me and that name.
“Yes,” he repeated, “to me, you’re Pilar, because whenever I see you
walking down that path, the way you carry yourself makes me think you’re
very kind… but very firm! Like a pillar. You must be a pillar of support to
This almost made me cry. I had never spoken with Wences, and he didn’t
know I’m a teacher, but what he said made me very happy and I will
always remember it. I hope you do too: be kind… but firm with yourself.
When learning English, you also need to be so patient with yourself!
Have you ever been with a very young child? Young children want to
listen to the same stories and songs over and over and over again. Even
when they know every word, they still enjoy listening again and again.
There’s great pleasure to be derived from repetition. And you need to be
very patient when a child asks you to read that story for the millionth
There is also a very young child in you! That young child is still part of you,
and it enjoys repeating things, going back again and again until suddenly it
finds something new to repeat, because it has already fully internalised
the previous song or story.
As an English learner, it’s very common to think we know how to say
something, but because we haven’t internalised and processed the
structure, we realise we have to stop and search our mind for the way to
express our idea most accurately. We continue to move forward in our
learning, from one level to the next, without taking the time to review,
repeat and practise the structures we learn as we progress.
Being patient means making it a habit to constantly go back, review our
notes, practise using new and challenging structures, being diligent in
creating vocabulary records and reviewing them as well, deliberating and
practising scenarios mentally, in English.
Challenge yourself to think of a particular English situation (for example,
a job interview in English), and practise the dialogue in your head as you
drive, take a shower or wash the dishes.
Use at least a few minutes of these everyday activities to remember your
intention to practise, be kind and patient, and replay the conversation to
yourself. Then ask yourself these questions to self-evaluate:
As soon as you’re able, make a note of your answers to these questions,
and then, kindly, patiently, and with perseverance, incorporate what you
need (including doing online research in English!) into your daily study
Perseverance is your last secret weapon. Don’t give up! Keep going, no
matter what, don’t let anything or anyone stop you from reaching your
goals. With your kind but firm determination, lots of patience, and
perseverance, you will succeed!
how did I perform during that interview?
if I were the decision-maker, would I give
myself the job?
what do I need to do to increase the chances
of the answer being “yes!”
what grammar do I need?
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