If you’re on time, you’re late

A good coach of any sport has several motivating cliche’s ready in their coaching vocabulary. We call these coachisms, and any good coachism will motivate you to perform at your best not only in practice or a game, but in life, too. Ones like “focus on the little things” or “let’s take this one game at a time” are valuable, albeit generic, lessons—they lose their edge when you hear them a billion times over.

The five coachisms we are presenting in this series have stuck with us because they are not overused, thus zapped of their impact. These five life-skills we learned as student-athletes that have haunted us—err, guided us—in our athletic, academic, and now professional careers. We believe that you can apply these tips in your language-learning endeavors, too.

Our other coachisms

  1. If it’s mean to be, it’s up to me
  2. Do your work early

Earliness is readiness

My first summer of varsity football was an exciting time. I was a freshman—a rookie—with a real chance of landing a starting role or two (or three, when you play 8-man football) on the varsity squad—the senior squad. I was adapting quite well to the heightened physical and mental rigors of the game.

Morning training started at 9 am. I arrived at 9 am, fully kitted and ready to roll. I was on time by the standards of many, especially the standards of well-maintained timepieces. According to my head coach, however, I was not on time. I was late, and I was reamed for it.

Suffering the consequences of being on time quickly taught me never to be on time again. “If you’re on time, you’re late,” coach Nick Karavedas would preach. To be “on time”, one had to be at least fifteen minutes early.  

This was not simply a matter of being early for the sake of being early—in order to nab the best seat or to be first in queue. Instead, Karavedas would say, being present well prior to the start of the appointment or task is a matter preparedness and respect. Earliness—as far as you can control it—is the result of preparing and having respect for the task. Even when the appointment regularly starts late, arriving early demonstrates that your mind is adjusted to maximize your time.

The mentality of being early to everything has many similarities to doing your work early when it comes to learning a language. However, this one goes beyond arriving ten minutes prior to the start of class. It is a matter of consistency, too. If you are enrolled in a language class, be there for every session, be prepared for every session, and, yes, be early for every session.

Be consistent in your personal studies. If you set time aside early in the morning or during your lunch break to do a lesson from Duolingo or Babbel, for example, do it every day. Yes, being early applies to this as well—do not hold off until the last minute of your allotted time.

Do your work early; arrive early, and prepared. It puts you in the right mindset to learn.

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