“I did it. You can too!” The era of success stories. It used to be about textbooks, teachers and “good luck.” Then came one success story after another. One learner guru after another. One “this is how I did it and why it’s awesome” after another. One “everyone else did it inadequately before me, but now I’m showing you the newest and best way ” after another. You can finally see success everywhere and copy it.
But you fail. It’s your fault. So much success – everyone making it so easy for you – and you can’t even just copy it?
Are success stories turned into learning methods bad?
Success Story Learning Method (“SSLM”): someone has successfully reached fluency and wants to share their story/method of how they achieved it.
When I first started studying Japanese there were very few SSLMs out there and this made life hard. Everyone I saw around me were beginners like myself, so I had no image of what a fluent person looked like. I didn’t have confidence that a high level of success was even possible. And if there was a way to do it, I definitely didn’t know of any path to get there. It wasn’t until people started writing blogs talking about doing it, showing their abilities, and making the dream feel possible.
With this, it is easy to say that SSLMs are good.
It’s the spreading and sharing of powerful learning information. It’s an indirect way of mentoring many people all at once. It’s what allows studying Japanese to evolve, creating best practices for years to come.
Jalup is an SSLM. It was born from my “story.” But it isn’t the exact way I studied. Most SSLMs are a work in progress that reflect an evolution from the original creator’s story. It takes into account regrets, things I wished I did differently, tools I wish I had (that I eventually created), and more.
However, with the good comes some bad. There is a big question and a big problem.
Is individual success repeatable?
Not maybe. Not an “if you try hard enough, you can do it!” The success story you read is their success story. It will not be yours.
I love that you love Jalup. But you are not me. You didn’t have the same environment I had. You didn’t have the same obligations I had. You didn’t have the same way of thinking I had. You didn’t have the same time, money (or lack of money), family, or job that I had. There are hundreds of factors that create your “story.” You don’t need to try and re-create someone else’s.
Think about it like this:
You have their recipe, but you don’t have their ingredients.
You might have the best recipe from the finest cook in the world. But if you are using completely different ingredients, and different amounts of those ingredients than is specified, you are not going to achieve the same cooking. It doesn’t matter if you try to follow the recipe perfectly. You must change it for it to work.
The 3 Essential Steps for Creating Your own Success Story
If you can’t just repeat, then what?
1. Listen to others
2. Listen to yourself
3. Don’t listen to others again
All three of these are important. Some people try to reinvent the wheel right from the start. Others get caught up listening to others for too long. Others start listening to themselves, only to revert back to listening to others at the first sign of doubt or uncertainty.
Listening to others also shouldn’t be about just blindly following and doing everything someone says. Criticism and negativity is all over the place when it comes to SSLMs. Why you should do X and not Y. Why X is better than Y. Why Y is stupid, and X is smart. Why the person who made Y isn’t as good as the person who made X. This is what you should not be focusing on when listening to others.
If you want decide on a SSLM because you like what the creator has to offer, or respect what they have done and how they teach it, then you listen. Listen well. Once you are done listening, then decide what you want to do with their method, how you will reconcile this SSLM with elements of other SSLMs, and finally (and most importantly) how you will turn it into your own.
Once you use an SSLM to become fluent in Japanese, you’ve created your own new SSLM. All methods stand on the shoulders of those that came before them. If you studied successfully with Jalup, and go on to create your own method, that makes me incredibly happy and means I’m doing something right.
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.