7 abstract lessons that beginning to learn Spanish has taught me.

The importance of lifelong learning.

The only thing guaranteed in life is change. If we don’t change ‘it’, we will allow ‘it’ to eventually eclipse us.

To be a life long learner is to be comfortable with the idea that we are not a finished product; that there is always more to know. It is to accept and seek comfort in the fact that we don’t know it all, and that there are lessons in EVERYTHING around us. We just have to let those lessons into our lives. We have to accept and be comfortable with the vulnerability these acknowledgements bring to us. We need to let go of any preconceptions or beliefs that hinder our abilities to progress. After all, we are a sum total of our experiences. If we believe we can’t, someone before us has believed the very same thing.

If we continue to believe we can’t and we are in a position of influence as professionals, what hope do we offer to the people we lead?

If it communicates something to an audience, it is a language. Period.

This may seem like a sweeping statement, but I have meditated on this thought for some time and as a result I completely believe in it. There is vast opportunity to draw parallels between all methods of communication and how we learn to communicate. Equally, there are also parallels in the way any language is acquired and applied. They are interchangeable, and infinite.

Integrate, actions.

When we learn to communicate, it is mostly through engaging in interactions with the people around us. We almost always immediately begin with a ‘sound before symbol’ approach, which is later developed by making associations between our developing language and other physical, visual or emotional stimuli.

Some thoughts I’d love to offer you that I believe are worth mulling over:

1. When we learn to speak a language, are we thrust in front of a dictionary and told to memorise the words?

2. If we were to say the words from a dictionary one after the other, would that create a coherent sentence?

3. How would that approach affect our ability to engage with the language?

4. Would a strictly academic approach allow us to ‘read between the lines’?

5. Is an academic approach at all fundamental to the development of communication?

Purpose, squared.

Once upon a time, I was perceived as being academically subordinate. I had no sense of purpose. I learned to accept this as being my fault and for a long time, continued to lack purpose because that’s what was expected of me.

Purpose and the lack of purpose self perpetuates. Purpose gives purpose, and I actually believe that everybody on the planet has the same requirement for purpose, we just rarely talk about it and in some cases refuse to accept it. Realistically, without a genuine opportunity to afford ourselves and others to understand the importance of particular causes and effects, how can we ever expect to properly develop as a society? How can we ever reasonably expect our followers to appreciate our experiences? How can we ever expect to make a positive impact? How can we ever be trusted? How will we ever grow?

The importance of application.

The first time I heard someone’s thoughts on application was from John Petrucci’s Rock Discipline DVD when I was a young teen. He makes a comment relating to musicians who failed to apply themselves and how they eventually ‘fade away’. I understood the logic behind that at a vernacular level, but never considered the principal as being relevant to anything else until later on in my life. Beginning to learn Spanish caused me to realise that this principle is true of anything that involves development and innovation. Like all knowledge and learning, new concepts have to be applied. They also have to be interlinked to enable not only a deeper understanding of the method of communication, but also how to fluently communicate our ideas and structure our cause.

To be ‘rich’ doesn’t enrich.

In today’s ‘quantity over quality’ society, it is very easy to get swept away into believing that more is more. It is all around us. The media insists that we are inadequate because we don’t have the latest trend, or the correct image. We want what we are made to feel we ‘need’ to decorate the lives we have that we are made to feel are mundane. Until we have what we ‘need’, we falsely perceive our own suffering. We are encouraged to be impatient, which for many reasons realistically makes us poor. To be poor has nothing to do with money, it has everything to do with our own expectations and perception.

In anything that is taught and lead well, the fun should be in the learning process, not in wishing the learning process away to get to the outcome in order to ‘be’. Learning takes time, and for some people it takes more time than others. We need to accept the reality of this. Instead of using time as an excuse to exaggerate the insecurities of ourselves or others – which inevitably leads to decorating ourselves and others with throw away solutions – use it as an opportunity to be comfortable with ‘now’ and to see the lessons in the present moment.

Variety IS the spice of…LIFE.

Exchanging old words for new words. Connecting words to images. Hearing new words and learning to articulate them aurally. Interpreting words written on a page. Taking individual words and reordering them. Spelling words out. Building sentences. Making sentences into paragraphs. Interpreting meaning. Transcribing sentences we hear to writing. Understanding punctuation. The question mark. Meaning. Verbs. Nouns. Adjectives. Emotions. Telling a story. Communicating with others. Building relationships. Love. Hate. Disagreement. Agreement. Passion. Determination. Security. Insecurity. Trust. Faith. Legacy. Connecting the hemispheres of our brains.

To name a few of a list things of I have in my mind, this is the power and opportunity any language harnesses. But, the real lesson is…

Language wouldn’t exist or continue to develop without US, no matter who we are. That is amazing.

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