I discussed perfection rules in my Do Your Rules Prevent You From Solving Problems? But, other rules can prevent you from living as full a life as you might want.
When I was in 10th grade, I took French (the language). I wasn’t so good at French. My teacher told me he would give me a C if I promised to never speak French to anyone as long as I lived. I took the deal.
I was 15 at the time.
I kept my promise. It wasn’t hard. I didn’t like French very much. I’d been struggling with learning French since the 3rd grade. I didn’t enjoy it. I found it boring. I hated what we had to read. I hated the practice in class. I knew that what I heard in my head was not how my mouth spoke the words. I found it very frustrating.
I still had to take a foreign language to graduate from high school. I took German for two years, and even received an award when I graduated from high school. Surprised me.
I kept my promise to that French teacher until a few years ago, when I met Yves Hanoulle. Yves is one the many multi-lingual Europeans, who is surprised by us Americans. He’s surprised we speak just one language. He speaks at least three, fluently.
I mentioned to him that I had tried speaking French. I told him the story of my French teacher, expecting him to laugh. He replied, “Are you allowing your old teacher to run your life?”
I was not in the here-and-now. I was back in the there-and-then. Why was I allowing someone not in my life, a teacher from long ago to run my life? Why was I allowing a promise I had made when I was 15 to stick? That was not so smart of me.
I decided to work on my French. I am nothing if not an adaptable problem solver :-)
It is surprising to me how much French I remember. Bonjour, merci, adieux, s’il vous plait, I remember those. I practiced saying them until the accent I heard in my head was the same as what came out of my mouth. It didn’t take that long anymore. I have learned something since I was 15!
This past week, we had someone with a French name in PSL. I pronounced his name correctly. First name, middle name, and last name. “Perfectly,” is what he said. He was surprised. So was I.
I haven’t tried to read French. I have no idea what my vocabulary is. I haven’t worked on it. I’ve been focusing on my pronunciation first. Maybe it’s time to get past “L’Epee D’Roland” as I discussed in Learn Something New. Maybe this summer, when my schedule eases.
What’s important is that I am now in the here-and-now, not in the there-and-then.
We are human. We do these things to ourselves. We might not even realize it.
If you are doing something—or not doing something—out of habit, ask yourself: Am I in the here-and-now? Or, am I in the there-and-then? Am I allowing someone else, maybe my younger self to run my life now? Do I want that person to run my life now? If I want this, I can continue the way I am. But, if I don’t want this, I have more options. It may be time to explore those other options, and be in the here-and-now.
- Do Your Rules Prevent You From Solving Problems?
- What Filters Do You Have?