On Love and Languages

On Love and Languages

What would a blog on life lessons be if I didn’t cover relationships? Lately I was thinking about an upcoming trip to Europe and realized how many similarities exist between learning a foreign language and having a great relationship.

I happen to be fluent in French. It sounds cool and romantic, yet it’s been anything but to get to that point. My junior year of high school I was lucky enough to go to Paris with a herd of kids and a couple chaperones. I had studied French for three years and enjoyed it up to that point. Then one night I got separated from the pack and ended up in a little candy shop. For half an hour I stumbled through a conversation with the owner who didn’t speak English. It was such an amazing experience that I decided to commit to really learning French.

I also happen to be in a great relationship. It sounds cheesy and romantic…and it still is. For years I had been too focused on myself and my own goals than to seriously make room for anyone else in my life. Then last summer I met Brie. Within a few dates I decided to commit to having a really great relationship.

It’s been more than 10 years since I started working on my French, and a mere 10 months since Brie and I started dating. But there are a few parallels worth noting:

  1. You have to decide and commit. What a difference it makes when you really dive in.
  2. Everybody wants to do it; not everyone puts in the work. How many adults say ‘I wish I could speak [insert language]’ or ‘I wish I never stopped studying [insert language].’
  3. The solution doesn’t come a in box at the mall. There aren’t any shortcuts or quick fixes. See image below!
  4. There are growing pains. It’s not always fun or easy, hence step 1 above.
  5. Priority and time management are key. Brie is in veterinary school and I’m a workaholic. It’s been quite a learning curve figuring out how to schedule time together and plan ahead.

Committing to learning French has been a labor of love. It wasn’t cool or sexy when I had to master the subjunctive and every other verb tense. I forced myself to study abroad in a French school away from anyone I knew. And in Aix I chose not to spend time with American friends from Denver. I had to bring a notebook to force myself to learn every word I didn’t know. And I took extra classes in French literature during my MBA and still take Alliance Francaise courses on Thursday nights after work. But it’s been worth it. I have friends all over the world and experiences I never would have imagined. Now I plan on applying the same lessons to my relationships.

Thoughts? I’d love to hear input from other young professionals balancing careers or couples that have been married for decades. Feel free to comment, disagree, ask questions, or get your #hashtag on. And tune in next week when I break down lessons from Seth Godin’s book Linchpin.

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About the author:

Patrick Dichter

As a small business growth expert, I help owners scale faster and work smarter on their operation.

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