Use your defects to your advantage

Sometimes a defect can be an impediment, a hurdle, a hard thing to live with.
 
Other times a defect can help us be creative and use it to our advantage. Let me share a personal experience.
 
Early in my life I faced issues with my right ear, to the point that I’m almost deaf on that side. I didn’t know until I got tested around 11, and as a result of that the doctors tried to compensate for the lack of internal tissue in my inner ear to enlarge my bones so I could have a “normal” hearing. The medical care was awesome, and I was able to improve my hearing a bit, but to this moment I still must manage such imbalance in different ways.
 
I tell my friends that their secrets are safe with me, if they talk to my right ear, which is quite the case. 😅😅
 
This condition made my school days challenging, and I had to ask several times to the teachers for additional repetition of the topic, because I missed some details sometimes due to the noise around me. But then this became an advantage, because by having the teachers repeat things I was reinforcing, having an extra “class”. At first, I did not think of this that way, and of course it was not done intentionally, but later in college that became a powerful tool when needed to juggle multiple activities. Let me explain.
 
My parents’ financial situation was tight, and the expenses of a professional career were too much for them. Although I attended public schools, the everyday expenses and books and other materials were taking a toll on my folks, so I quickly decided that I needed to work in order to help myself and them. This job was in a daily newspaper, which was great because it was after school and it was a full-time job. The downsize was that I was home very late, at 1 or 2 AM, and classes started at 7 AM, with almost 1-hour ride on the bus.
 
Also, during those days I decided to pursue student leadership, which led me to become the president of the Computer Systems Engineering student counsel. This helped me tremendously to get out of the shell where I was before and I was able to create great connections in and out of the school.
 
So… how much time was left for studying? You can imagine. 😕
 
So, I resorted to the tactic I had created as a result of my early struggle. I started asking the teacher to repeat the process to solve the problems, or the definitions of any term or topic, so I could reinforce it right there in the classroom. Sometimes the subject was so easy, it was ridiculous, but I knew that I would have no time to go over it by myself.
 
Sounds like cheating? I will let you be the judge of that.
 
Have you use any defect to your advantage?

 

 

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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!

From typewriters to a cloud world

When I was in junior high, back in Acapulco, Mexico, a friend and I were sitting on the sidewalk talking about what the next prank was going to be. I don’t remember the details, but such idea soon changed because suddenly through the corner of my eye I saw an unidentified flying object (UFO) coming out of a moving car. It landed roughly a hundred yards from where we were plotting some childish joke.

As any young curious people would do, we rushed to see what the UFO was, which landed on the same side of the street where we were discussing our very important endeavour. It was a science-fiction book named The Foundation, by Isaac Asimov. The cover of the book was different back in 1983, and it was in English. My friend showed no interest in the book, so I decided to keep it because at the moment I was taking additional English classes to the ones from school, so I though I could eventually read it. Later, Isaac Asimov would write several Foundation books, and now you can have the entire collection, if you enjoy this kind of reading.

As time passed, I kept learning English but still could not comprehend the book. So I took on the goal of translating the book to Spanish, so I could read it. It was a daunting task considering that the book had almost 400 pages, with no images. So I bought a couple of dictionaries and used the typewriter and some paper at home and started typing.

Hold on… if you are 30 years old or younger you might have have not seen a typewriter. Such device was not kept at my parents’ house or mine, so I can’t take a picture of it, but I’ll give you an approximation of it with a cute picture of a vintage, emotionally charged fake typewriter that I got last year (it’s actually a bank).

Vintage Typewriter

Vintage typewriter, no electricity or Wi-Fi required

Also, if you did not use a typewriter, you should know that there was no “Delete” key to correct a mistake. If you made a mistake, that implied to start the page all over again, until a marvelous thing was created: liquid eraser, a white coating that covered the wrongly typed word and allowed to write on top of it (awful when used on non-white paper).

Fast-forwarding to 1988, at my last year of High School, and after five years and countless nights of typing, along with trying to decipher the idiomatic expressions in order to translate them in a way that made sense in Spanish, I was able to complete the task.  A lot of effort went in it, and it allowed me to dive deep into the intricacies of translation. By the time I finished it there was no need to read it, because I became very familiar with the story both while translating the easy parts, as well as when trying to fill the gaps. At the end, the stack of paper that the book formed was higher than the typewriter (letter size).

In our current world, the typewriter can only be found in museums, or the basement or garage of highly sentimental people who like to hold on to these things. But I doubt they keep using it. New devices have taken over, so fast, so radically. Change is a wave so powerful that nobody can stop.

The rapid pace of change produces such an incredible tale of two realities. That from two o three decades ago, and the one from today. Stories like these seem themselves like science-fiction, but they’re not. Here’s today’s tale:

During the past few months I have translated two books from English to Spanish, and I’m on my way to finish the third one. Of course I’m leveraging the experience (gay hair) and the tools I didn’t have back then. I use the website Babelcube to find the books that I want to work on, and after a quick handshaking process I’m typing, proof-reading, editing, and submitting the work, without using a single sheet of paper, or liquid eraser. The best part is that I’ll get paid for, based on royalties. I like to plant seeds for the future…

The books I refer to are:

It’s a whole new world we live in. Distance, language, culture and other barriers are quickly fading, and those who refuse change will eventually end up in a museum, like the old typewriter.

Adios!

P.S. If you want to check the books in Spanish, here are the links:

Hard work always pays

Reading successful stories is always inspiring. It helps our conscious mind to relate to the story and find similar reasons to start something, to get into action, to make a plan.

This story from Entrepreneur is one of those. I enjoyed it, and it inspired me. However, the reason for this to be inspiring is not the money, as we have learned that money does not give happiness. It is about hustle, determination, action and purpose. Those are the treats that help a person become a better human being, and that can give you or me a lot of happiness. I hope you find it inspiring as well…

5 Success Tips From a Multimillionaire Who Used to Work at Kmart

Life is beautiful… enjoy it!

Spring: flowers, allergies, and more…

flower_yellow_20170412.JPGLet’s focus on the “more…” part.

Before Spring, we complained about the cold Winter, although we have to recognize that this year gave us a very mild one. Now the cold temperatures are gone, and it’s time to get out and face the beautiful nature; no complains, no arguments. This is the time of the year when we get out of our caves and enjoy all the treats that surround us with colors, smells, leaves, flowers, fruits, all kinds of birds and so many animals that wander all over trying to claim their space to survive.

It’s time to breath and fill our lungs with new energy, new motivation, new stamina. Out with the old, and let’s bring the new… the new you… the new me. And, like anything that causes happiness and satisfaction, it has to come from within. It’s not in a pill, or a box from the store, it’s inside, bottled up, waiting to be liberated.

Learning is like living, the motivation is found inside the person, it can’t come from outside.

Let’s live happy, let’s learn more.

-Alejandro