“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill.
We all have our own stories, consisting of both successes and failures. These stories make us who we are. Being successful feels amazing but our failures should not be thrown away either. They bring in new perspectives and contexts to our success, our story, and hence, have their own place in our lives. Sometimes, failures can be the most defining part of your life, such an example is of Peter Flomo, the Global Ambassador of Youth Opportunities from Liberia.
Peter Menipely Flomo, the lead of a local NGO, shares the story of him learning French. “French has to be one of the hardest languages to learn. The vocabulary is scarce. A simple word ‘Potato’ is ‘Pomme-de-Terre’ which translates into ‘the apple of the soil’, can you believe it?.”
When he moved to the City of Conakry in Guinea five years ago, the only French words he knew were “Bonjour, Bonsoir, and Viens”.
“To be honest, I was extremely shy and the idea of speaking a new language overwhelmed me. People used to laugh at my French, which was, the furthest from encouraging,” he says.
Most of us who are trying to learn a foreign language can relate to his story. We often hold back because of people making fun of us. However, Peter’s journey from speaking almost no French to being fluent at it is out of the ordinary, and here’s why “By the end of the third month, I could write decent French but my speaking was yet to pace up. I felt like quitting is the easier option. Every day, people would mock me but I knew I had to do it. I had to make my mother proud. So I started something new. Whenever someone would mock me, I used to let them finish, crack a joke of my own, and then ask them to correct me.”
Peter swears by this technique and says that it has helped him the most. In a matter of months, he could even debate in French. Now, his French is better than a lot of the people who have spent their entire life speaking the language.
From Peter’s story, we learn a few lessons we should keep in mind while learning something new. Let’s get into details with them-
Be connected with your motivation
Peter says that what motivated him more than the need to speak French was, making his mother proud. Think of ways to drive yourself to your goal with reasons that are more than just the act of it or just because you have to do it. If you keep yourself connected with reasons that hold emotional value to you, you are bound to work harder, and your chances of success are going to be substantially higher.
Use adversity to your advantage
You can use your adversity for your development. Peter learned a handful of things from his experiences. He learned a new language, pushed himself to a new limit, learned to deal with negativity, and most importantly found out that if he tries hard enough, anything is possible.
Do not give in
“The best way out is always through.” Robert Frost wrote in his poem Servant to Servant, 1914. Life is full of challenges. And the best way to deal with anything that intimidates you is to get closer to it. Failures are temporary but the lessons you learn are going to be with you forever. Trust the process and keep going!
‘Comfort Zone’ is an illusion
‘Comfort Zones’ trap you into a bubble. You are not meant to be in one place forever. Push yourself. Put yourself out in the world. The act of learning is one of the greatest things in life. When you break free of your inclination towards comfort, your mind gets more adept to changes. It makes you more equipped to face the challenges that life throws at you.
Look for inspiration
Peter told us that a video that impacted his journey heavily was by Dr. Les Brown, who talked about sharing vulnerability for our own betterment. There are millions of videos, books, resources, available online that could give us that one push towards achieving our goals. Keep an eye out for such inspirations.
Peter is set to graduate in 2020. He is leading a local NGO in his home country. He is the hero of his own story because he is an inspiration who proved that small, yet significant, acts of courage can accomplish something much greater. We should never be ashamed in the process of learning something.
“Focus on your goal and do not pay any mind to those who do not believe in you” Peter says.
He wanted to quit on several occasions but he fought those impulses with rationality each time. He says the first three weeks were the toughest but he knew he had to prove himself who did not believe in him.
His story will resonate heavily with many of us who struggle with our second language, English. Learning does not need to be perfect from the get-go. You have to start with a good-enough and work yourself up to it. Peter proved that with dedication and a positive attitude, even something as alien as a completely new language can be mastered.
We thank Peter for sharing his courageous story with us. Stay connected for more inspiring stories!