My mom turns 80 this month and has decided to learn Portuguese.
She models how age is relative, the value of responsible risks, and the gift of a growth mindset. Want a roadmap for success? Let’s go!
Age is a Number
First, let’s address a common roadblock I hear in coaching: age. Whether you see yourself as too young or too old, the fact is, you’re right. If you think you’re too old to learn a language you are. That’s why coaches call these roadblocks limiting beliefs. You expand or contract to the limit you set for yourself, based on your belief system.
You are capable of more than you think. And “think” is the operative word here. What you think gets manifested in your actions. The quality of your thoughts matter. Quality thoughts lead to quality actions. You can identify a quality thought by its relationship to self-transcendence (click here to learn more). Feel good? That indicates quality. So does positive energy.
Let’s add nuance to this “discussão.” See? You’re already learning Portuguese!
Responsible risk lives in the continuum between powerless and powerful. It’s about taking the next step, not the final one. Canadians are really quite risk-averse as a population. I can see the stark contrast as I coach Americans and Canadians. We Canadians often struggle with any risk so we seek ways to minimize – and ideally eliminate – it, instead of finding ways to take more risks responsibly.
Responsible risk is a term I learned at our children’s grade school. It provides a useful framework for moving from powerless to powerful.
- Risk means uncertainty by its very nature. Yet uncertain doesn’t mean bad unless that’s the significance you ascribe to it.
- Responsible is having control and authority over something or someone and the accompanying duty of care toward it or a person.
By navigating uncertainty alongside the desire for control, you empower yourself, thus creating the conditions necessary for success.
Carol Dweck’s work on the growth mindset continues to resonate today. It permeates workplace culture as an ideal leadership trait. Having a growth mindset involves the belief that your abilities and intelligence can be developed through personal effort.
Benefits include increased resilience, boosted confidence, adaptability, reduced fear of failure, and enhanced problem-solving skills.
Learning a language fosters a growth mindset.
My mom is really good at languages. She speaks four of them and taught two (French and Spanish) as a high school teacher. I remember going to an exhibit with her at Ste-Marie-Among-the-Hurons where a Wendat speaker taught interested attendees how to say certain words. My mom picked up on how to say the words easily and the Wendat speaker marvelled at it.
Success begets success.
At 80, my mom is willing to take a responsible risk to learn another language. She has done it before so she knows she can do it again. Age isn’t a limiting factor. Her empowering belief that she will succeed is what matters.
To succeed, she needs a Portuguese speaker to practise what she’s learning through the Babbel app. She’s got a ready teacher in my brother’s wife, who is Brazilian.
My mom will do it.
Choose to Grow
Age, risk, growth mindset. All of them are perspectives and you get to choose which one(s) to adopt.
Happy birthday, mom.