A conversation with a friend the other day about learning languages (my Swedish is reasonably fluent and my Spanish is functionally ugly - both are self-taught), got me thinking about the parallels between learning a language and accomplishing anything new and cool in life.
One of the big obstacles many people have to getting fluent in a language is a reluctance to open their mouths and start speaking because they don't want to look stupid. They know they're going to stumble and stagger around, so they don't want to open their mouths at all.
Looking back on the language learning I've done so far, one of my biggest secrets to success has been a complete and utter lack of shame. With both Swedish and Spanish, I just accepted the fact that sounding stupid goes with the territory and focused on what I was really trying to do - communicate.
Of course, the more I opened my mouth, the easier it got, the more fluent I became, and the more comfortable I felt with speaking.
There's an obvious parallel there with success at trying to do something new in your life. Starting something new is often inherently about starting at the beginner stage. When you're at that stage, you have two choices about how to experience it:
1. Focus on what you can't do and what's wrong about that (I can't speak fluently and I sound so stupid!), or...
2. Focus on what you're doing and what you're achieving (I'm communicating and carrying on this conversation is easier this week than it was last week!)
Letting yourself be new and clumsy and focusing on what you're doing and achieving instead of what you can't do and why that sucks frees you up to be in the moment and learn. And paradoxically, the more you can be comfortable with that state where things feel awkward and uncertain, the faster you will move past it.
Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM