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Everything Does Not Require a ‘How To’ Manual

My brother used to sell computers and software. Customers would regularly phone with questions that were already explained in the manual. RTFM (read the f***ing manual!) was a standard reaction among the technical help personnel.

But there is something in us that does not want to read the manual. We do not want to get bogged down in details. If we read the manual we might convince ourselves that something is too difficult. If we do not have some hands-on experience, the manual is often meaningless. We know from experience that we will not remember what we read in the manual anyway. So we just start without the manual and either figure things out, or ask for help when we are stuck.

There are many situations in life where following your inclinations, without the manual of instructions, is the best approach. I can think of at least five.

Of course there are situations where the manual is necessary. You need the manual for assembling IKEA furniture, or you will end up with extra parts and some things will not fit together. If you are studying for the Conservatory you will need to study music theory. In college you will need to review the text books before your exams (although you may not remember much later). The latest personal development book might just change your life. But for many situations in life, it is best to jump right in and enjoy yourself. You will probably have a richer and more rewarding experience.

Written by Steve Kaufmann of LingQ, a site with a unique methodology for learning nine languages. Steve also maintains a blog on language learning.

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