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Overcoming Ourselves

Updated: Aug 10






Key words and phrases:

work on: improve, become better at

ebb and flow: the continuous pattern of coming and going, like the ocean tides

at play: something that produce or influences the result of something

strive for: work hard to achieve or obtain

woven into: deeply a part of

endearing: inspiring affection, lovable

first and foremost: coming above and before all else

noble: having or showing fine personal qualities

seize: take hold eagerly and decisively


Confidence is something we all have to work on. Each one of us has self-doubt in some areas, even those who are good at hiding it. It’s a human condition, that, like the ebb and flow of the ocean, is something that pulls us back or pushes us forward; often, it does a bit of both. The good news is that once we know that, we can work on overcoming it.


I have been teaching in Japan for almost 30 years and I can see the overall level of English has definitely improved in that time. However, one thing that remains a constant is that most people still lack confidence when it comes to expressing themselves in English. Certainly, there are cultural factors at play here. In particular, the Japanese love of perfection.


Every day in Japan, we can observe people striving for perfection. This can be seen everywhere, from high-end department stores to affordable gyudon restaurants. The desire for perfection is woven into the fabric of Japan and is part of the DNA of its people. This is one of most endearing and respected aspects of Japanese culture. Having said that, we must remind ourselves that when it comes to language, perfection is not needed and rarely achieved, even by highly skilled native speakers.


Language is something that first and foremost must be functional. Then, as we progress, language evolves and our skill to convey messages becomes better and better. Although perfection is a noble goal, we should remember that conversation must remain fluid so that both or all parties involved can remain engaged. Remember that we learn from our mistakes, which means that each mistake made is an opportunity to move forward.


The next time you participate in an English discussion or meeting, take a deep breath and seize the opportunity to share your ideas with others. We usually regret the things we don’t do, not the things we do. So, take a bold step forward and get engaged in discussions, laugh at and learn from your own mistakes, and you will see yourself grow!


Wishing you health and happiness, always.


Mark Tofflemire

Tailor Made Inc.


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