One of my biggest heroes is Heber J Grant. What you never heard of him? Actually I am not surprised. I doubt anyone out side of my church would have even heard his name. Heber J Grant was the Head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormon Church) between 1918 to his death in 1945. Why is this man my hero? I obviously look up to him as one of the few to be in charge of my church, but it is because of what he did long before he was ever a leader in the church. Heber J Grant had the ability to turn his weakness into a strength. (The source for all the information here is found here)
According to his own words he was a scrawny and lanky boy. He didn’t have the physical strength that so many of them had. When He joined a baseball club in his small town, he was forced to play with the children 2 age groups below him. This was because he couldn’t throw a ball far enough to go from one base to the other. He also couldn’t run or bat well.
Most people, including me, would say that I this is my weakness and go and try to find something else I was good at. Heber vowed as a child he would improve his ability in baseball so much that he would be on the starting 9 that would win the champion ship for the territory of Utah(Utah wasn’t a state yet).
Heber bought a baseball and would spend hours throwing a ball at the side of the barn. He threw to the point that he could no longer sleep at night due to the soreness in his arm. Eventually he moved up to the 2nd age group and eventually was put on the starting 9 team that won the champion for Utah, California, Colorado, and Wyoming. And then retired from Baseball having fulfilled his child hood promise.
Heber J Grant, after finding out how well paid Book keepers at Wells Fargo and CO made, decided to be a bookkeeper. This meant that he had to have good penmanship. One of Heber’s friends remarked that his writing looked like “hen tracks” while another commented that it looked like lighting had struck an ink bottle. Heber, of course, was determined to prove all wrong about him.
He practiced to the point the he was hired as a book-keeper as an insurance agent at the age of 15. He continued to improve even more that he eventually did get hired by Wells Fargo and Co. He was once offered 3 times his salary to move to San Francisco to work as a Penman. Showing his cheeky side, when at a territorial Fair, he was browsing the class of Penmanship and told them that he could write better at 17 than all these exhibits. Since they didn’t believe him, he paid the entrance fee and submitted one of his works from when he was 17. He won the contest.
What does this have to do with language learning?
We all have strengths and weaknesses in our current ability to speak a foreign language. We have two choices: Accept that we are weak and go on or turn our weaknesses into strengths. Right now, for me the Past tense is kicking my butt! I logically understand the differences but I pause so much when talking about the past because I am not sure which one I should use. So what is my biggest focus for now? The past. If I can make the Past tense into my strength than the Rest of Spanish wont seem so hard. What is your weakness? And how are you going to make it your strength?