CHAPTER 27Finding the Power Within

“No man is free who is not master of himself.”


When Dan was 16 years old, he fell in love with Federico Fellini's . Each time Marcello Mastroianni appeared onscreen, Dan was struck by his effortless charm. Something about the quiet power with which he dominated the screen. He had never been to Italy, but the more he engaged with its culture, the more he knew that's where he belonged.

On one trip to Italy, he made a list of restaurants in Rome, hidden gems other tourists didn't know about. Another time, he visited a micro-producer in the north and learned that high quality fresh olive oil—the real stuff—has a hint of pepper and is almost bitter. With each trip, he realized Italy was his calling. If only he spoke the language.

But how hard could it be? He set aside time each day for learning vocab and grammar. He bought a language-learning program and followed it religiously. In the beginning, everything went smoothly. It felt as effortless as Mastroianni's character looked on screen. But soon, he would open his Italian grammar book and feel a twang of dread. Visions of speaking with Nonnas in the Sicilian countryside were replaced with mild anxiety about studying. Learning Italian became a chore.

What happened? How could a habit meant to facilitate his passion feel so painful? He wasn't lazy. He didn't lose his attentional focus. He certainly didn't lose his love of all things Italian. The answer was one of motivation. In fact, ...

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