The Summer of Learning

There’s no perfect time for learning. No perfect place, website, school, group of people, weather or learning style. There’s only desire. Desire to become a better version of ourselves every day, without constraints, predisposition or outdated traditions. When we let go old ideas like “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, or “if ain’t broken, don’t fix it”, we liberate ourselves from limits imposed by people no smarter than us. We then jump into a world of possibilities that allow us to exercise the only muscle of the body that doesn’t get tired, but instead becomes stronger every time we feed new information to it.

And it’s right there, inside our brains, where the seed of desire originates. It’s a small idea, a simple thought, a short statement that makes all the difference: I can do it.

Mark Twain said: If you believe you can do it, you’re right. If you believe you can’t, you’re also right.

Simple, yet challenging. Clear, but scary.

So, It’s not a matter of luck, at least not in the form of unexpected good fortune, but a quest, a resilient desire to continue the journey of learning while finding time, resources and the perseverance to confront the obstacles ahead and be ready to experiment, create, try, fail and repeat until the goal is accomplished.

Another toxic idea is this: “everything has already been invented”. This suggests that creativity and invention are not needed anymore, and that we must simply consume everything around us, with no hope to improve. But this mindset produces lack of progress and stagnation, and keeps us from investing in ourselves, which is necessary to keep finding new goals, new ideas, new dreams.

Let us have a Summer of learning, and keep extending such learning journey forever. It will make us better, and it will make the world better!

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March Madness… time to learn something about sports

These days are all about basketball. College players and their respective fans are geared for living the time of the year when the academic interest is not the number one priority for some, because the game of basketball draws in all eyes, with the hope to be the team that cuts the net and closes another cycle, to then enjoy the taste of victory and start the a new chapter now trying to repeat the same success.

But while the college tournaments generate a lot of euphoria and other behaviors, some fans are oblivious about the origin of the sport, and in many cases they don’t know the rules of the games, because in fact they have never practiced the game.

The history of basketball has been published in may sources, including the NBA (National Basketball Association), in its article History of Basketball in Canada, which indicates how the sport was created out of necessity, to provide an indoor activity that could be performed by the physical education class in the cold weather of Massachusetts.

Today basketball is not a game, or a sport, but an industry, and industry that generates business, dreams, careers, money, and sometimes bankruptcy, failure and deceit.

Basketball
Imagine: It all started with a soccer ball and a peach basket…

The amount of adrenaline that is generated at a game can produce emotions never experienced before by the fans, and being part of the game is something that cannot be replaced by watching the game on TV or other devices. That kind of atmosphere is the main attraction that creates chaos on the streets surrounding the arenas, massive consumption of food and soda and other snacks, as well as happy or sad exodus back home.

It’s great to celebrate sports, to be part of the game, to chant, to cheer, to enjoy. But it’s also great to play the sport, to enjoy the rush of the dribble, the pass, the block, the three-pointer, the charge taken, the free throws…

And to enjoy playing the sport, knowing the facts and the rules of the game is necessary. Here are a couple of nuggets, for those of us who are interested:

  • A men’s ball is about 9.55 inches (24.26 cm) in diameter and a women’s ball is about 9.23 inches (23.44 cm) in diameter.
  • In the National Basketball Association (NBA), the court is 94 by 50 feet (28.7 by 15.2 m). Under International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules, the court is slightly smaller, measuring exactly 28 by 15 meters (91.9 by 49.2 ft). 

The facts above were found in Wikipedia, but they can also be found in any other source. Before the electronic information conquered civilization, paper books were read around the world to know these facts.

March Madness is the culmination of a sport journey that has transformed parts of the society. Such transformation is a parallel of other times during the year when people support their teams in other sports. Sports that produce emotions, emotions that people cherish continuously, anxiously, and sometimes inevitably.

It’s another wave of late nights, next-day no-shows, and lots of fun.

Let the fun be great, and let the sport be not only viewed, but practiced, as it was originally intended.

Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

It’s not you… it’s me

How we view the world will always predispose us to adopt points of view that are unique, unmatched and easy to confront when our reality is threatened. When our paradigms are challenged, our reaction can be unpredictable. There is nothing more comfortable than our comfort zone, and if that’s in danger, we will jump.

But… in the current state of our civilization, such mindset can be worth only a few moments in memory, and then it could turn into a quick transition to irrelevance. Even though being intolerant can cause annoyance, the person that irradiates this character is doomed to quickly become ostracized and ignored.

Opposite mindsets have historically led to chaos in many forms, and the ultimate impact is at a world wide level. Sometimes the point of view of a single individual dragged others to a situation that could be prevented easily without escalation.

The existing chaos in our world is the result of our own turmoil. There are problems where we want to see problems, and there are no problems where we want to ignore them.

Selective chaos… chaos created by me… by you… and you… and you.

Wait a minute… how many fingers are pointing back at me?

The truth is, if you and I stop defending our paradigms so passionately, and focus on the context of them, we would have a great opportunity to understand each other better, and would be able to confront them without prejudice and with an open mind.

Understanding the motif behind a paradigm allows for a holistic view of the paradigm’s owner. And that helps the counterpart to think before reacting to it.

If we stop seeing only problems, and instead learn to appreciate each other’s paradigms, that will lead to a compassionate way of thinking and to a better interaction among our peers, family members, loved ones, enemies and strangers… because that’s what the world needs… compassion.

Compassion requires knowledge. When we pursue knowledge, the road can be interestingly challenging, but the journey is filled with insights that make it valuable and totally worth it.

Do you care to share your paradigms? I’m open to share mine.

Let’s keep learning!

Always be learning!

Long time no read! I’ve been learning new stuff, time to write something.

We cannot spend our entire lives reading books. The amount of books available to us is in the millions and is just a couple of clicks away. I have purchased more than 30 books in the last few weeks, and the queue keeps growing faster than me finishing them.

The reason for my indulgent purchasing of such books is that the investment is very low (mostly 99 cents). Also, I need to be clear that I don’t buy everything that comes to my attention, otherwise the quantity would be in the thousands. I just buy what I think is relevant to my goals, as well as selecting those recommended on podcasts, blogs and other books. This creates a constant flow of knowledge that helps me to be in “beta” mode.

Finding good books sometimes is difficult, but at least today the price is not prohibitive. Some books offered in digital format even let you peak at their first pages, so you can have an idea if it will provide value to you.

The question is not if there are good books, or if they are cheap or expensive.

The question is: do you have an insatiable need to know more?

I took that bit from the book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It, by Michael E. Gerber.

Been hungry for knowledge will create questions that will lead us to get the answers. And by doing so, we’ll discover how ignorant we are.

Let’s keep learning together!

The mood is in the writing

Our human relationships have shifted from a personal, face to face interactive mode, to a virtual, sometimes remote ones.

Wait… virtual, sometimes remote? Isn’t virtual always remote? Let’s think about the next situations: families having dinner at a restaurant, and some of them texting to each other, even though they are all there, sharing the table. Or in the car, texting each other in the back seat. Or mom or dad texting or calling someone within the house, because the other family member is in a different room.

If this doesn’t apply to you, you are still using the human emotions through your tone of voice, the emphasis in your words, and other body gestures that come with the message that you want to deliver. However, we are rapidly moving towards a society of written words delivered with mobile devices. And if we intent to include emotions with our text messages, we have to resort to the old punctuation symbols, or the graphic icons in the form of gifs, animated gifs, emojis, avatars or any other graphical representation. Adding such context requires time and sometimes we just need to deliver a plain text message. This is when there is a need to be mindful about the format of such simple line or paragraph, to avoid miscommunications. Here are some examples:

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice”

This simple text conveys a motivational message. If we want to put emphasis in the key words, we can write it like:

“DESTINY is NOT a matter of CHANCE, it’s a matter of CHOICE”

The use of capitalized letters helps to make a bolder statement with the goal of motivating the receiving end to action.

Now, let’s use a different example, where using capitalized letters is not a good idea.

“The numbers you are showing are WRONG! FIX them!”

The combination of capitalized letters and the exclamation sign is basically a representation of the sender yelling at the receiver. Even if the words in the statement are kept the same, changing to lower case and removing the exclamation sign eliminates the belligerent tone that accompanies the phrase.

We spend a lot of time texting these days. Being aware of the basic etiquette can eliminate confusion or miscommunication, which can potentially destroy personal relationships.

Adiós!

 

hotel_power

 

 

 

 

 

Simple is better

Today I attended a football game and unfortunately our local team (Bengals) lost to their division rivals (Steelers), and as sour that it is to stomach the loss, there is a big lesson I witnessed in the last seconds of the game: big problems sometimes require simple solutions.

While many of us in the stands were waiting for a big play from the quarterback to any wide receiver who could catch the ball in the end zone with only fifteen seconds in the game clock, the visiting team executed a short pass to the inside in a crossing route using a screen, and the receiver pretty much ran the remaining yards through the center of the defense (untouched) for the winning touchdown.

Sometimes we over-complicate things, but going back to basic solutions can be the answer to big problems.

They did it. The got the win. The deserve it!

 

The power of gratitute

It’s easy to express gratitude for a nice word being said to us, or an action that represents any kind of  benefit, or a favor that requires no payback. It’s human nature to be thankful, for both the basic things in life, or the bigger ones beyond our underlying needs.

The challenge emerges when we face problems, opposition, failure or setbacks. If such circumstances are beyond our control and we cannot blame ourselves or other people, a common reaction is to ask: Why me? What did I do to deserve this? When am I going to get a break? Why do bad things happen to good people? And the list goes on…

A similar situation can happen when a young person is constrained by the boundaries set by their parents. When we grow up, we start developing a desire of independence, which is usually tilted towards having more privileges, and opposed to acquiring additional responsibilities. And then the same kind of situation happens: young people complaining about their “horrible” dilemma.

A positive approach to all this is to look at things in retrospective and analyze which lessons we learn from every challenging situation. Within all the unpleasant time and discomfort that this might bring on to us, we must recognize that many of the “bad” situations or restrictions were there for our benefit, or protection.

Let’s image that we are put in a house with metallic bars in the windows and doors. We might feel like we are in a prison, right?

Now imagine that we hear a load roar somewhere outside this house. Maybe what we considered a prison now it feels like a safe place.

All our challenges, problems, adversities, setbacks or failures, represent our journey towards a life of constant achievement, where we are solving life problems and becoming more savvy, to the point that we can help others. And giving such help is the ultimate expression of unselfish learning that usually helps us to be grateful about our struggles, our worthy journey, our self-carved accomplishments. An even though we pretty much always get some kind of help, we can always say… “thank you” life, for helping me get to this point… and I’m ready for more.

Be grateful. I am grateful for your comments, regardless of their kind.

Thanks!

Out of the comfort zone

Change is never easy. When the question asked is: do you like change? pretty much everybody says “yes”. However, when the question is: who wants to change?, not everybody responds with an affirmation.

Change is uncomfortable, stressful, and nerve-wrecking. But it is also exciting, motivating, it creates new opportunities, new ventures, and sometimes new life.

I’m going myself thru some changes that are pushing me out of my comfort zone. In the past I have followed the rules of the system: get an education, get a job, go up the corporate ladder, and retire someday.

But this kind of journey does not work in the current environment, where jobs are not abundant, and the existing ones are full of challenges with nothing guaranteed. It’s simply a rat race without significant benefits for the majority of the employees. It’s good for those who are willing to “go the extra mile”: work 12 or more hours a day, leverage corporate politics, knock down those who get in your way and, the most important, please your boss no matter what.

Maybe this is not the norm, but definitively is very common among many “success” stories. This kind of rhythm doesn’t leave much left for other important things in life, and the consequences will show at some point in time, unequivocally.

I’ve tried several times to get out of the rat race, but it’s not easy, although I’ve learned a lot. I’m now embarking on a new venture, as a side project, that is pushing me out of the normal routine. Maybe it will work or not, but the learning lessons are awesome, totally worth it.

We can always complain about our lack of success, if we have tried new things… but we cannot complain if we keep doing the same thing over and over… because the result will be the same.

And if we have tried and failed, the right thing to do is move on to something new, and make the best out of the lessons learned.

I’m sure I’ll be sharing my success soon, and would love to learn about yours too!

 

P.D. I was shared this ring tone recently, definitively different, and fun. In case you want some Latin beat coming out of your phone. Enjoy!

Nothing to worry about

I have an inside joke with my wife, when she wonders why I have no gray hair… yet. I’m approaching 48 years young :), and still can show a black mane with no hints of snowed threads. She sometimes wonders if I get up in the middle of the night to dye it. Now, that would really be stressful for me!

My answer to her frequent inquiry is usually the same: “I try not to worry too much”.

That is a little of bit of an understatement. I have a lot of things in my mind, and certainly enough to keep me busy and sometimes overwhelmed. However, when I say that I don’t worry too much, it’s a form of saying that I don’t let the problems get the best of me.

But wait… let’s go back to the beginning… is there a correlation between stress and gray hair? Or is it more accurate to say that there is a correlation between age and gray hair? Or even further, a correlation between the combination of age and stress that produces gray hair?

I’m clueless!

And while the challenges keep coming, I’m confident that I have enough character to conquer them, or enough humbleness to decide when not to pursue them, without lamenting anything later.

Let’s remember: 10% of any situation is how it presents itself, and the other 90% is how we react to it.

I have enjoyed writing this blog, even though I’ve been absent for a while, but I hope to keep connecting with people, to make more friends.

And gray hair or not, I’m learning to age gracefully, because every phase in life is worth enjoying!

See you soon!

myblackhair

Hey, no dandruff either!  🙂

Is your kid excited to go back to school?

If it’s up to our kids, they would love to stay at home, having a good time, playing games, going places at any time of any day, or maybe just doing nothing. Some kids think school should not exist, due to multiple reasons they can come up with, and based on their own perspective.

Some kids attend summer classes, or camps, or supplemental online courses that keep their brains absorbing knowledge. This kind of kids will not experience the uphill of the first days or weeks when they go back to school.

Let’s remember that the brain gets stronger with use. Although some games nowadays are very challenging, and force kids to use their creativity and cognitive skills, the methodical aspect of the regular classes is something that needs to keep happening, for the sake of compliance with the school curricula. Having a regular time to deal with reading, problem solving and conscious reasoning is important for the student to avoid a steep re-adapting period. Just two or thee hours per week of “school” work while on vacation is enough to accomplish that.

Returning to classes can be dreadful or fun, depending on how balanced the school break is approached. Having the kids doing something light, but close to the type of work they will face when school starts again, will give them confidence, and maybe even they will be anxious to go back.

And let’s remember, our kids’ education is not the responsibility of the school system, it’s ours!

Let’s keep learning…