3 Lessons I AM learning, learning Spanish… | Lisa Steingold

What I’m learning, learning Spanish…Joder!

Joder. It’s a good way to start. It means F*ck!

Yes, it’s MESSY!

It’s also appropriate because it describes my level of frustration some days when the (Spanish) words I’m looking for don’t come to mind. I now understand what it feels like to be five years old again but it’s also made me see just how much I’m learning about work, life, people and myself through this process.

I moved to Spain amidst a little global pandemic in 2020 (Cough #coronavirus). I didn’t just move but I moved to a leeeeedle town in a mountainous paradise in Northern Spain where English is not spoken.

I’d been learning all about what it means to have a “Growth Mindset” thanks to a small obsession I had with a company called Growth Tribe in Amsterdam long before anyone had ever dreamt of getting rich selling designer Facemasks. (No jokes, check out this mask design from Dolce&Gabbana although I’m more of a Ferrari and McLaren gal myself.)

Not to bore those of you, who don’t give a ‘joder’ but basically adoptingg a growth mindset means being open to new challenges and continuous learning for the purposes of growth. This image (source: Techtello) explains it perfectly well.

And I would have told you I was totally up for the challenge, of moving countries amindst a global pandemic after all, I’ve done some pretty crazy stuff in my life including ride my mountain bike through Vietnam for 1300kms solo save for my pet cuddly toy frog named Franky. I’ve also spent a year in London, twice. Long story. I’ve worked as a kids swimming teacher, sports massage therapist, consultant, event organiser as well as, of course executive coach and Growth Marketer.

I forgot one minor detail before moving. I didn’t speak Spanish.

Well turns out I was in for a little ‘live’ Growth Mindset training! Learning Spanish, and that means present tense, has taught me and reminded me that;

1. Making Mistakes are how you learn (Vomit)

I’ll be straight up. I hate making mistakes. Hate it! Nope I’m not one of those graceful individuals when it comes to mistakes. I like perfection. I strive for it. It’s what pushes me to be better in everything I do. BUT it is just not possible to learn a language without making mistakes.

It doesn’t however have to be excrutiating. In fact when you learn to ‘play’ with making mistakes, you learn much quicker! I learnt this one day when I went cycling with my new cycling mates (another long story which you can read in my upcoming book) but needless to say when I told them I’d made penis soup (sopa de polla) instead of (sopa de pollo) one day, they almost fell of their bicycles with laughter.

I had no flipping idea until they’d explained it to me. Once they’d stopped crying with laughter of course.

The thing is I’ve never made that mistake again. Once I got it, I laughed too! Now they tease me about it and I love that they do,

I used to hate making mistakes but now I realise they’re often the way we learn. When we make them fun and realise no one died (except maybe our own egos), it makes learning easy.

2. When you think you’ve got it, you know nothing – so you keep going

Some days the part of my brain which is able to speak Spanish, goes into remission. This happens when I’m tired or hungry, usually both. Makes sense because the part of the brain focused on survival shuts down the language centre of the brain. Thank you Mother Nature.

The other thing that happens is that at times, I’ve seen how much I’ve progressed! These experiences when I’m in a shop and actually understand what the person is saying to me or when I’m with friends and actually understand the conversation, fill my heart with JOY! I can literally burst with happiness.

And then all of a sudden (de repente!) it’s gone.

Or you’re suddenly in a conversation where you have no idea what’s happening or you have to structure a really complex sentence (like last week my friend told me that her sister had broken up with her boyfriend) and you’re brain is like

“QUE?”

I literally feel like Manuel from Falty Towers more often than I can say!

Image result for fawlty towers manuel que meme

It’s taught me that the minute you think you’ve got life figured out, you probably don’t

BUT

It means you keep growing! It means you keep learning! And when learning stops, we die (that may be purely in soul or in body).

3. If you risk looking like a fool, you’re more likely to meet incredible people

The pic at the top of this blog was taken after seeing my new hairdresser Geannis today. I can tell you that you just haven’t EVER had your hair touched, styled and perfected until you’ve been to Geannis.

I met Geannis, who is originally from Venezuela, because I figured if I was going to learn Spanish, I needed to emerse myself in the language in every way. And although I have the MOST INCREDIBLE Spanish Teacher Alejandro, I needed to practice what I learnt in class, in real life situations. And what better way than getting your hair done. It’s like paying for a Spanish lesson and getting your hair done at the same time!

The thing is it took me two weeks to pluck up the courage to call “Glamour Estilistas” (where Geannis works) before I went the first time because I was petrified of looking like a fool.

But you can’t have confidence without looking like a fool as I wrote in this blog way back in 2018. You just can’t.

And if you risk looking like you fool, you may actually end up looking like a million bucks!

(Me)

My time with Geannis like so many of the people I’ve met here, is always a gift to me. He corrects my mistakes, I look great and YA’STA (that’s that!)

Want to use this in your life? What I’m talking about is #diversity people. Go seek out different people from different walks of life and see what happens?

I can tell you from my other recent experience of meeting “el jefe” nicknamed, “The Boss” who is 82 year’s old and kicks my ass on the mountains here that it will leave you humbled, inspired, motivated and all in all, a better human.

El Jefe and I
(when he gave me a break at a coffee stop recently:-)

Oh yes, of course you’ll be shit scared but fear, except when you’re trying to outrun a lion, of course, means you’re growing! This is a whole separate blog topic because sometimes fear IS appropriate for keeping us safe. But often we’re just feeling fear because we’re out of our comfort zone and being outside one’s comfort zone can be a great thing!

Think you can’t meet new people, start a new job, learn a new language, move countries, start a relationship, get creative, embark on a new career…. during Coronavirus? Think you can’t change your behaviour, earn more, set boundaries, take time out….during Coronavirus?

YOU CAN!

YA’STA (That’s That!)

PS I’m also learning about flan and other incredible food but another time folks

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