I started out trying to learn Spanish. I stress “trying” because I was awful at it even after 500 days. Then I figured I’d attempt to re-learn French, which I probably barely learned with only two years of high school French classes.
I didn’t become tri or bilingual by any stretch. But I ended up gaining much more from this experience than I imagined.
First, I learned the power of habit. Once you make something a habit, it becomes a habit.
You might be thinking: “Duh, of course.” Well, my point is once you get past the first week to 10 days of working on forming a new habit, it becomes part of your routine.
In my case, Duolingo became almost addictive. My family got tired of hearing me stumble through phrases and the daily tests. But for me, it became something I needed to do.
Trust me, it was difficult to stop my daily Duolingo practice once I hit the 1,000-day mark. The lesson that was reaffirmed for me is doing something every day creates positive habits in our personal and professional lives that become routine.
Second, I learned and grew personally by doing something that challenged my mind in a different way than my business work. Taking time in the morning to learn something new helped me feed my curiosity, which ultimately made me more creative in my work. We talk a lot about personal and professional growth at MASSolutions for each team member. I felt I was living the mission just a little bit more because of my Duolingo habit.
Third, I discovered that learning a language as an adult is much harder than it was as a teenager. Again, I wouldn’t say I was adept at French by any means. But I remember phrases and actually saw my high school French teacher Mrs. Leffler in my mind’s eye, teaching me and my classmates all those years ago. This made the time spent on French much more natural than the completely new language of Spanish.
Lastly, Duolingo does a great job of marketing and storytelling. Once you sign up, they continually send you notifications tied to your progress, provide challenges to shoot for, comparisons to how others are doing and more. The result is Duolingo makes you feel like you’re not alone. You’re part of a community. It was a brilliant move to drive usage and create a sense of belonging with something that can be as solitary as language learning. That’s leveraging the power of storytelling.
Learning a new language is a true test of patience, persistence and dedication, and it was one of the most rewarding habits I’ve ever had. The skills I’ve developed through Duolingo have helped me approach my work and life with a better, more curious mindset.
So, the next time you’re feeling stuck or looking to develop new skills, try learning a second language. You might just surprise yourself.
Author and marketing trailblazer Dave Mastovich has helped companies transform their messaging and improve their Marketing ROI for decades. He’s founder and CEO of MASSolutions, host of the No BS Marketing podcast and author of the book Get Where You Want to Go Through Marketing, Selling and Story Telling.