Member Update: A Sign of Mastery


I’m learning Spanish. Slowly.

I’m using Duolingo, which is a free downloadable app for your smartphone. It’s pretty fantastic. Well organized. Easy and fun to use. Well researched, too. It doesn’t spend a lot time teaching you conjugations, for example. It teaches through exposure, which in my experiences has more staying power than learning something by rote.

Anyway, I don’t mean this to be an advert for Duolingo. But I noticed something interesting when I was doing my Spanish lesson just the other day.

I was stumbling over one of the words. I kept saying “cansado” when I meant “cansada.” Now, mind you, I was in the kitchen by myself… no one to hear my bumbling of words. And yet… I still felt embarrassed. Silly, right?

But that got me thinking. I rarely feel embarrassed when I stumble over my words in English. I just correct myself and move on. Even when I’m on stage delivering a presentation, a misspoken word won’t rattle me. It won’t make me feel silly. Or embarrassed. Or incompetent.

And I thought… well, that’s interesting.

I’m more comfortable making mistakes with something I know forwards and backwards than with something I’m learning.

How about you? Do the mistakes you make when you’re learning something pull a bigger emotional response from you than the mistakes you make doing something you know you’ve mastered?

I’ll bet for most people they do. And the reason is that mastery imparts confidence.

When you have something down pat, it doesn’t affect your opinion of yourself if you make a mistake. You know you know what you’re doing. A mistake doesn’t change that.

But when you’re still learning, a mistake highlights that you don’t yet know what you’re doing.

So, what does all this mean? Well… when you understand why something makes you uncomfortable, it can be easier to do it in spite of the discomfort. It can even lessen the discomfort… or do away with it altogether!

Think about something in your web-writing business, where when you make a mistake, you immediately feel embarrassed or anxious. Chances are, you haven’t mastered that thing yet.

And mastery really just comes with repetition. So if you practice that thing more, it will get easier and easier… and when you do make mistakes, they won’t seem like a big deal. Plus, if you recognize that you’re still learning and that’s why mistakes freak you out… chances are, the mistakes won’t be so unpleasant going forward.

New on the Site

Writing an About Us Page can be complicated. There aren’t any hard and fast rules. You need to convey personality while still being mindful of the needs of your reader. It’s quite the balancing act. Get some ideas for pulling this balancing act off with ease when you check out our latest Roving Report.

How many times have you heard that you need to know your audience? More than once or twice, I’ll bet. If you want to write well, you must know who you’re writing to and what they want from you. In his latest Reality Blog, Andrew Murray shares the four steps he uses to learn about his tribe.

And in his newest post, John Torre reveals five specific, easy-to-implement strategies you can use to establish your credibility and build a trusting relationship with your prospect. Check it out right here.

Mark Your Calendar

Practice Assignment: Don’t forget to check out our current Practice Assignment. In this assignment, I invite you to work on your own LinkedIn Profile and to submit the result for the chance to have it reviewed live during an upcoming webinar event. To be considered for review, submissions are due by February 5.

February 7: Our next Monthly Member Update webinar is next week. During this session, I’ll highlight top content from Wealthy Web Writer… I’ll talk about what’s coming up… and I’ll answer your most pressing questions about freelancing and web writing. Plus, we’ll talk a little about turning goals into habits so you can achieve more than ever this year. Details will be posted soon.

Around the Web

When you land a client who keeps coming back to you with more work… that’s a beautiful thing. To learn how to convert your favorite clients into repeat customers, check out this free webinar from AWAI.

This is a look at how to build a thriving business in today’s very competitive, very crowded market. I gotta say… writers play a huge role.

Looking to expand your reading list? These critics’ picks from The New York Times should provide some inspiration.

This has nothing to do with writing or reading… it’s just cool.

That’s all for now. Make it a great week!


Heather Robson

Heather Robson

Managing editor of Wealthy Web Writer, Heather has over ten years of content marketing and development experience.


  • Hi, Heather. Thanks for the article. I have had the same experience with feeling embarrassed. I don’t want to look incompetent on the new thing I am working on. And practice makes us experts. It seems Duolingo is a great teacher and something for us to consider modeling. It gives gentle corrections and there is a blog of more information from the other users. Talk about getting to know your audience. They continue to build a better teaching tool by listening regularly to their students and tracking what happens during the classes. I enjoy the steady, practical application and sense of accomplishment I get along the way. My favorite thing is I get great ideas from learning another language. English is derived from many other languages. Learning some of those languages has given me an insight into the back story, real meaning and emotions of some words. I travel to Hispanic countries often, so Spanish has been a must and my favorite. I used it in a Spanish immersion stay in Panama and learned more about life, retiring and business in this country. A year ago I used some Irish lessons before going to Dublin and Northern Ireland . It helped me in some of the smaller towns and rural areas where Gaelic and English are both spoken. I have maintained some of my Irish and British contacts in my industry and just great friends.

    • I love Duo. That’s a great tip about Ireland. We’re planning a trip this summer so I’ll have to dip my toes into the Gaelic lessons.

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