How Duolingo changed how I run my business

I didn’t think that I’d be sharing with you about how a sassy owl on this app has inspired change within my business, but it has…and it’s been huge.

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Today I hit a 686 day streak learning Korean on Duolingo. You wouldn’t believe that a sassy owl app has inspired change within my business, but it has. And it’s been huge.

Not everyone likes this app but I love how it gamifies learning. Duo the owl sends you notifications to remind you to do your lessons, keeps you on accountable by tracking your daily usage, and also rewards you with badges. It’s a glorified gold-star chart, which seems to work reeeeeeally well for many other creative business pals I’ve chatted to.

I had a problem though.

Despite seeing the counter go up, and feeling awesome about that…I wasn’t totally convinced that I was making ACTUAL progress on learning the language. Was I inadvertently hitting the goal of “keeping my streak” as opposed to “learn Korean”?

Had I been wasting my time?

I was listening to my morning wake-up playlist on Spotify as usual and it happened…

From the once indecipherable sounds of Hangeul, I was picking out words in real time, hearing them accurately, and understanding the meaning.

It was this exact moment that I was suddenly aware that I WAS hitting my goals, even when I thought I wasn’t.

I asked myself before — was I accidentally working towards the goal of “keeping my streak” as opposed to “learn Korean”?

Well, the answer is both.

The streak is both the goal AND the means to achieve a bigger goal.

In me focusing more on not breaking the chain of daily studying, I’m not overwhelmed by the mammoth task of learning a new language. I just have to concern myself with a single, fun 5-minute task for that day. That’s it. It just so happens that by consistently doing these tiny tasks, I am getting closer to my language goal each time.

The other benefit of these small steps is that I can tick off something every day and literally SEE my progress more often, which means a boost of Happy Hormone™ more regularly. Compare that to if I had chosen the bigger task to complete, like “Do TTMIK language course”…although it might feel more impactful once done, I would have to wait 6 weeks to get a gold star, risk feeling disheartened and not keep up with my not-daily homework.

Because of how well my learning has gone on a personal level, I’ve implemented some of the learnings from Duolingo into my business. Here’s some of

How I applied Duo to my biz

  • GamificationRewards along the way help you stay motivated on your business goals, especially as the timeframe to achieve them are likely to be longer.
  • Visual reminders – Being able to see your progress in some way is really useful for staying on track, whether a star-chart, a jar of buttons or a page of coloured squares!
  • Think tiny – Small steps are the most sustainable, because they are easy to do, and easy to keep doing. These little wins compound and build towards your goal with in the easiest way possible.
  • Lead with joy – Be inspired by things that you like on a personal level and bring them into your work space/business/brand. We make the rules, so why wouldn’t be make it as enjoyable as possible!?

Lots of people encourage you to trust the process, but I think it’s closer to say “curate the process”.

When you set your goal, you plan the process too. You get to make these decisions based on what you want, and HOW you want to go about it. So just know that if you follow your plan (your tiny tiny plan) you’ll no doubt get you to where you want to go.