If you’re a busy Entrepreneur or Business Executive and you want to thrive and not just survive in your English (or any language) in 2020 and beyond, read on.
So, the big question is: why are so many leaders “just surviving” their language learning?
Well, there are five main things that get in the way of our enjoyment and progress during our language journey and at least one of them will be the reason why the way you’re working on your English isn’t working:
- The Race against Time: we spend our language learning hours rushing and running, arriving late to lessons, breathless and exhausted, sandwich in one hand and phone in the other. We manage to fumble our way through the lesson whilst thinking of all our other tasks/projects and then rush off again to catch up on the hour we’ve just lost. There’s no time to savor or enjoy. We’re just relieved when we get to the end of the course because it’s one less ‘to-do’ to worry about.
- The Creation of Stress: our focus is on how we look to others. We worry about whether we’re making mistakes, what those mistakes might mean about us and our ability, what clients or colleagues might think of us. We’re constantly judging, self-criticizing and comparing, held back by lack of confidence and self-doubt. The fear of the unknown, the uncertainty of leaving our comfort zone and leaning into the “not knowing” part of a language, often smothers our desire to improve and grow.
- The Strive for Perfection: we’re constantly chasing perfection, “good enough” isn’t good enough for us. There’s no enjoyment just grim determination to struggle towards that far-off finish line that keeps getting further and further away. This all-or-nothing thinking means that we rarely take action (unless things are 100% perfect) so we never achieve what we’re truly capable of. We forget that language is one of the few skills where we can immediately create a feeling of connection. Unlike when we start learning a musical instrument or sport where it takes time to build up mutual enjoyment or team spirit, knowing even just a few words in a foreign language can light up another person’s eyes and spark a connection.
- The Quest for More: we consume content until we reach infobesity but we don’t apply what we’ve read. We “binge” on vocabulary lists but never use the words. We keep changing strategies, books and teachers in our attempt to find a quick-fix blueprint to success. A magic formula that will quick-start our learning. The paradox is that in our search to gain time, we actually lose it.
- The Fixed Mindset Focus: Carol Dweck has spoken a great deal about fixed and growth mindsets. When we have a fixed mindset, we believe that our intelligence and talents cannot change and grow, that we either have an ability or we don’t. For example, if we found languages difficult at school, then we just believe that we’re not good at languages and we can’t improve. We need to remind ourselves that learners are made, not born. Likewise, if all our focus is on extrinsic motivation to learn (meaning that we prefer external rewards and the approval of others rather than our own internal growth and satisfaction), then over time, our motivation will also dwindle.
Do you recognize yourself in any of the above? Did you notice that, in all of these five mindsets, our focus is completely outside of ourselves?
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