In Simon Sinek’s TEDx Talk, “How great leaders inspire action”, he posits that great ideas begin not with the “What,” but with the “Why” and then the “How.” That is, every company produces a “what,” but not all delve into the more profound areas of why and how they produce what they do. I’ve learned a lot from this presentation in how to examine what I love doing and what motivates me to keep on going.
Language means everything to me, but so does service to others. In this blog I’ve been trying for many years to express why love and deep connection with others motivates my language-learning.
Now I’m going to lay out why love lies at the center of my learning languages.
I believe that we all should put ourselves out there to love. More specifically, we need to sacrifice for one another, especially for those in need.
Those of us with privilege—any kind of privilege—will make our world better if we give some of that privilege away. Those of us who are white, educated, and speak English as our native language carry advantages that others can simply never have. We need to “spend” our social capital on behalf of those poor in the capital we have.
Read this blog and stay motivated. You will learn about the privilege you have, and about those in your community who are lacking. Posts keep your eye on the immigrants and refugees in your community. These people offer wisdom and stories that you need, that you don’t know you need.
You can commit to your neighbors and community, especially to those with less privilege than you, by learning their language. The process will require you to sacrifice a lot of time and dignity and a little bit of money.
By speaking to your neighbors in their language rather than your language will teach you and give you a connection to people very different from you. You can sacrifice some for them, but you can also gain wisdom.
But you have to trust the process. Don’t shortcut it. Learn their language, and learn it well. When you don’t understand, ask. When you don’t know how to say what you want, ask, write it down, and memorize it. Speak. Embarrass yourself. Learn from your mistake. Repeat.
You will have to love them through sacrifice, but you will gain. Don’t learn a language for your next vacation. Learn a language for your next trip to the store, ride on the bus, or visit to a new part of town that makes you feel a little uncomfortable.
In Simon Sinek’s terms:
- Why? Create a world where people love by sacrificing for others.
- How? Read this blog to stay informed about your privilege and ways to learn from others through sacrifice.
- What? Learn the language of your neighbors.
What is your “Why?” for learning languages?
Photo credit: Varchannelmarketing