Someone Else’s Best Way May Be the Worst for You

As goes the Japanese proverb, “Ten people, ten colors”

Mathias Barra
Aug 15, 2020 · 4 min read
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Photo by Nandhu Kumar from Pexels

Ever tried to convince someone your way was the best? You probably have. And you’ve certainly failed miserably many times. I know I have.

After more than a decade of learning languages, I thought I knew it all. I had mastered a few languages and become conversational in a few more. I knew other polyglots had their own way but, still, it made sense for me to tell other people what I thought was “the best way”. I started with my close friends but soon found it was difficult to convince them. Why would they not follow a method that clearly works?

I then started a self-improvement journey and it changed my life for the better. People not trying to improve themselves started to not make sense to me. Why would you not do something so good for you?

It puzzled me for a long time until I fell upon a Japanese proverb I fell in love with:

Translated literally, it means “Ten people, ten colors”. More common English versions would be “To each his own” or “Different strokes for different folks”. We should all remember this whenever we interact with others.

What works for you?

How did you find what worked for you anyway?

In my case, I spent 10 years tweaking my techniques to learn languages. I tried different methods. I combined some. I created my own. I combined my own with others. I scratched everything and started again. No method I tried ever worked from the start. At the very least it needed some tweaking.

As for self-improvement, waking up early and using my early mornings was one of the best decisions of my life. Even on days when I wasted 1 or 2 hours in bed, by the time I’d get out, it was still some time between 6 and 8 am. I still had time to handle whatever I wanted. This was the result of a lot of reading advice and trying. It took time to figure out that 5 am was what worked best for me. I didn’t set my mornings for self-success after one piece of advice.

Nothing good I ever did came from a single person or piece of advice. It was always the result of many experiments.

I thought it was only because I’m weird and often misunderstood (both in negative and positive ways). I thought it had to be easier for others. After all, I spent my childhood studying a lot more than others, only to get slightly above the average.

I’m just another bloke. I’m just another person who thought he was “special” and didn’t even think it in a positive sense.

How do others find what works for them?

They go through the same process. They struggle. They wonder. They succeed and then fail. They fail and then succeed. They are proud of themselves. They disappoint themselves. They are people.

Sometimes they’ll come to similar realizations, sometimes they won’t. They will never get a perfect replica of someone else. Not even you, no matter how close you are to each other. No matter how awesome what you do is.

They have their own “color”. You’re one person and one color. They are another person and another color. The next person also is different.

How to find ‘your’ best way

As William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well said:

Transfer this mindset to the rest of your life. Nothing that other people did will ever be yours until you do it yourself.

People have written about learning languages all over the internet but nobody had my life. Countless people have written about productivity, writing, meditation, history, and so on. Nobody has done it as you would.

Your “best way” is yours and yours alone. It’s important to share it because it may become a part of someone else’s method. It’s also important not to force it on others. It could have absolutely no effect whatsoever on someone else’s method. It could be a waste of their time. Do you like it when someone wastes your time? Yeah, I guessed so.

So here it is. The best and simple way for you to find your own best way :

Drop all judgment of opinions, and try things out. Read things you otherwise wouldn’t. Experiment with new techniques once in a while, even if your current one works. Keep an open mind, even when a method you find brushes you the wrong way. Have fun.

Watch YouTube videos of pieces of advice. Read studies and articles online. Learn from the best and the worst. Learn from experts and newbies. Take lessons from other topics and see how they fit in with what matters to you. It’s much better to learn from a rainbow than from one single color.

…Oh, wait, no. That’s not the best way for you. That’s what works for me. You go and figure out your own best way. Hopefully, my method will be useful to you but don’t take it as it is. I’m only one person and one color.

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Mathias Barra

Written by

Polyglot speaking 6 languages. Writer. Helping the world to learn languages and become more understanding of others. Say hi →

SkillUp Ed

Learn Better — Quality Stories about Skill Development

Mathias Barra

Written by

Polyglot speaking 6 languages. Writer. Helping the world to learn languages and become more understanding of others. Say hi →

SkillUp Ed

Learn Better — Quality Stories about Skill Development

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