Yep, it’s true – I’m a rogue grammarian who splits infinitives, ends sentences with propositions and invents new words as I need them.
And I even start sentences with conjunctions.
There ain’t a rule I’ve left unbroken.
I plead guilty and I do not repent. I was happy to do it and I’ll do it again.
Why am I such a reckless criminal towards the English language?
Because I love you, obviously.
Some you don’t notice and some of you don’t care.
But some of you see me mangling infinitives and you flinch inside. It’s wrong – what kind of uneducated idiot am I?
The best kind…
Some folks love rules and order – they love them at all costs. These fine folks are excellent for building a bridge, where the rules are clear and anything less than perfect adherence leads to rubble floating downstream.
But most of life isn’t like that.
Most of life is chaotic, messy and unpredictable. And the irony is, the more you try to impose order, the more chaotic it gets.
This is true in language, too.
When I said some of you love rules ‘at all costs’, I meant it. Someone told you some nonsense about infinitives and prepositions, and you lapped it up. It was another rule – another way to stabilise something as unstable as human-to-human communication.
You might even know where those rules came from – a weird initiative from folks who needed better hobbies.
To Latinise the English language.
To quickly identify anyone without a formal education, I assume.
You can’t split an infinite in Latin because they’re one word. That didn’t stop them shoehorning that into our language, even though it doesn’t make sense…
Here’s a secret:
Slavishly following rules where order is impossible won’t make you happy.
Exhibit A: Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm, who knows every social convention there is. Not once does it make him happy, though. It never even makes this more orderly.
Sure, it’s s sitcom, so it exaggerates for effect.
But that’s the funny thing about exaggerating – it’s not the same thing as inventing. It builds on a nugget of truth.
Let me put this is hypnosis terms:
You see folks all the time – mostly newbies, some old hands – asking questions about the ‘rules’:
Is hypnosis the same as trance?
Is this technically an induction?
What’s the exact wording I need to help someone with insomnia?
This lust for a script – for mechanistic precision – is a crutch. In hypnosis, you can’t rely on the rules because there are none.
Take any rule, and there are a dozen ways to do the opposite and get better results.
That applies to life, too, by the way – outside a few niche areas that demand precision.
(Success and happiness aren’t among them.)
Of course, you don’t get far by making things up at random.
You need to know the principles and how to apply them.
That’s how I can break the rules of grammar and you still understand me – the rules are irrelevant, while the principles are king.
If you’re learning something new, start with the rules and techniques… and move on, as quick as you can, to the principles.
And with life?
Figure out what the rule is supposed to do, then embrace the principle behind it.
Example: do you avoid talking about politics to help keep the peace? That’s a worthy goal but a dumb rule. Figure out how to break that rule to even better keep the peace.
That split infinitive just now wasn’t on purpose, I swear – it’s just how I type.
And that’s why I’ll keep on splitting them. If it bugs you, even a little, good. It’s a sign of how much more you can achieve once you abandon the need for false security.
Speaking of all that…
With Monster Mind Edukaré, I teach you a few rules of your mind. I follow my own advice here and move as quickly as I can to sharing the principles.
Each of the 19 modules gives you something actionable to do, while sharing a deeper insight you can generalise to the rest of your mind.
If you’re stuck in a rut, frustrated or feeling overwhelmed, the beginning of Edukaré is perfect for you.
Everything else is perfect for who you’ll become on the other side of those.
Find it here: