Key to Korean #2: Practice Beats “Best Laid Plans”

© sunchild123
© sunchild123

Every great dream or goal begins with a passion. Few successful people will ever say that they became so successful because they started with a “grand plan” first. Most successful people begin with a passion and just figure things out as they go along. If you’ve already got a passion, congratulations! It’s time to move on to Step #2.

Now, while it’s easy to understand how you’d want to turn your passion into a plan, there’s still one step you’ve got to undergo first. That’s practice.

A plan may seem like the next logical step after you have a passion, but it’s not. Don’t we all know someone whose heart is full of passion, and whose head is full of plans, and yet makes no progress along his or her desired path? The conversation usually goes a little something like this:

“I’ve got big plans, man!”

  • “Wow, man! I am sooo passionate about baking!”
  • “Really? That’s cool!”
  • “Yeah, man. I love pies and cakes, and breads! But especially pies!”
  • “I know what you mean, man. That’s one thing I really miss around here.”
  • “Totally! And that’s where my plan comes in!”
  • “Plan?”
  • “Yeah, man. Korea has the whole bread and cake thing down! They’ve got Paris Baguette and Tour le Jour all over!”
  • “Right…”
  • “Yeah, but what they’re missing is a famous pie shop! I’m talking meat pies, fruit pies, cream pies, you name it!”
  • “OK, that’s cool. I’d go there.”
  • “Right man. So my plan is to spend the next year perfecting my pie recipes. Then, two years later, I’m going to rent some space in town. Then, I’ll get a designer to help me promote this whole thing, and I’ll start cranking out pies like crazy! In five years, I’ll have achieved a level of success that most can only dream of!”
  • “OK, that’s cool. Well, how about you start by baking me a pie tonight?”
  • “No can do man. I don’t have an oven yet.”
  • “No oven…? Well, you can come use mine…”
  • “Sorry man, tonight is my tasting night. Since I’m so passionate about pies, I’m going out on the town to find the tastiest ingredients.”
  • “OK, so, when are you going to bake a pie?”
  • “That’s coming up here in one or two weeks now. Then, I’ll buy an oven and get busy.”
  • “Well, are you sure there’s a market for that?”
  • “Of course! Everybody I’ve talked to says they’d buy one…”

And on and on. You’ll notice that the “one or two weeks” later stuff remains perpetually “one or two weeks” later. Plans can often sound really great. And they look even better on paper! But one thing that all plans need before they stick is practice.

You’ll never find an entrepreneur who’s successful at his business who didn’t practice for years before entering the entrepreneurial realm. You’ll never find a published author who didn’t practice for years before getting published. And you’ll never find a fluent speaker of a second language who didn’t practice for years.

Plans are an important part of success, to be sure. But plans only succeed after significant practice.

What does practice do for you?

Practice is important for a number of reasons:

  1. It helps you determine if the perceived need is an actual need or not.
  2. It builds a foundation upon which future plans can be built and stand firm.
  3. It forces you to deal with the highs and lows of your activity before establishing a plan that might falter at the first sign of trouble.
  4. It helps you learn the rules and limitations of what you’re trying to accomplish so that you can make realistic (not idealistic) plans.
  5. It allows you to get good at what you’re doing before too lofty plans kill your passion for it.
  6. It grants you the gift of anonymity so that mistakes you make while practicing won’t be nearly so visible after your plan is made public.
  7. It helps you build momentum for your passion that you can carry with you into your plan.
  8. It allows you to find and solidify your personal “style.”
  9. It provides an opportunity to be “discovered” for passionate work.

Practicing Korean

Practicing Korean doesn’t mean going out there and buying a bunch of Korean books. It doesn’t mean buying a new, “cool-looking” Korean book when you get hit with the urge to study. It doesn’t mean only speaking Korean when you’re trying to pick up girls (or guys). And it doesn’t mean only reading and writing. (I’ve made all those mistakes).

  • Practicing Korean does mean speaking Korean as often as possible: with co-workers, friends, adult, in stores, in the taxi.
  • Practicing Korean also means determinedly and regularly going through a quality Korean book with a tutor (or teacher).
  • Practicing Korean also means being intentional about using (and thinking in) Korean on a daily basis.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post that will discuss “Effectively Practicing Korean.”

So, how do you practice Korean? Or do you get perpetually stuck in the “best laid plans” phase of learning?