Climb that mountain, but keep going!

There’s a lot of be learned from Alex Honnold’s successful free-soloing attempt of Yosemite’s El Capitan in 4 hours. This guy really sees the world differently and certainly has no fear.

In his interview with Nat Geo, he described most of the things during his climb as “ultra-chill”, “super chill” or just overall chill. “I didn’t feel that stressed because in a way I had already committed to autopilot and just put everything aside,” he noted on the base of El Cap. His strategy was to treat it like “a super normal day”. He was not phased by how much of a big deal it was. He didn’t even tell his mom (because “She’s really bad at differentiating between free climbing and free soloing.”)

The biggest thing I took away from following his journey was his humility.He had been working on this dream for 4 years, training and familiarizing himself with every pitch and every hold. Although knowing him, everything he’s done so far probably contributed to his accomplishment.  Summiting El Cap was not the end and certainly was not a reason to retire for rock climbing. 

During his climb, he was already thinking about his next goal (sport climbing 9a) and the importance of the US staying in the Paris Accord. He focused on things that was beyond his current limits, as though his current goal is a stepping stone to the next. And it is. You’ve got to keep going. Remind yourself of the bigger issues out there. Focus on achieving the best version of yourself. One day at a time, you can work to anything you set your mind to. See where life takes you on the other side of fear. And maybe, try not to die along the way.

For now, I’m just happy his next project involves ropes. Thanks for being a true inspiration, Alex Honnold. 

“The whole pursuit of this dream has allowed me to live my best life, that makes me hopefully the best version of me. Just because I’ve achieved a dream doesn’t mean that I just give up on the best version of me. I want to be the guy that trains and stays fit and motivated. Just because you finish a big route doesn’t mean that you just quit.”

Are Coding Bootcamps Worth It?

$14K. That’s the price of the coding bootcamp that I was accepted to. That’s the price of quitting my current job as a consultant, applying for more loans to add to the current student loans I have in order to successfully pivot away from my career in healthcare finance and finally follow my creative passion in web development.  I never typically prescribe myself into traditional pathways to success. I was always limited by my means and learned how to thrive within my restrictions. However, I was able to reason to myself that $14K was the price of liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As the dust of decision making starts to settle in, I am submitted by how far I’ve come (I got accepted to a coding bootcamp) and how many times I have been declined of loan application and payment programs. These are not news to me. I’m used to this by now, I tell myself.

I’ve never doubted the decision to go to a coding bootcamp, but the financial realities of paying for it has set me back to reality. Is it really all worth it?

We have two ears and one mouth

I tend to be cut and dry when it comes to learning certain things. I can say I’m a pretty good listener but being an effective listener was another. It didn’t help to have a very logic/analytic brain that I’m quick to problem-solving and not thoroughly aware of the fact that I opine unwantedly and completely be blind to the emotions.

With the help of an actual lynda.com Effective Listening course, I was able to dissect the conversation I had with my partner last night and realize the true focus of the problem. Yes, we had an argument and I took an online course to be better listener. It helps! There are appropriate ways to respond to a speaker and demonstrate how to listen effectively.

Knowing what my strengths and weaknesses were in comes to listening allowed me to focus on the true intention and purpose of listening and start creating good habits.

  • Always and primarily paraphrase the content and emotion of what the speaker has been talking about. Being able to offer a quick summary is the easiest way to show that you have been actively listening. Don’t focus too much on the details, and ask frustrating questions. Don’t make it about yourself. The speaker has been vulnerable enough to come to us. Don’t be quick to criticize and provide advice without being asked. We are always trying to learn something from what the speaker has to say.
  • It’s important to clarify your role as a listener at the beginning of the conversation. Asking the speaker “Do you just want to vent?” or “Are you asking for my advice?” can help us be the listener the speaker needs us to be. We have to be aware of our mental filters, before we start prioritizing what we need to know and start criticizing them about the things that don’t fully align with our thinking.
  • Mirroring is the best way to empathize. By  listening and paraphrasing what we listen to in the similar tone, body language, we start to fully understand the speaker. By sitting in the same posture as they are, we can relate to the emotional state of the speaker.
  • Silence is golden. The quieter you become, the more you can hear. When we sit there in silence, we are to say “I am here with you 100%”.
  • Practice, practice, practice by deliberately practicing we can be effective listeners. Or else, it’ll be really emotionally straining. GUH. Like me rn.

Additional Notes:

The top five skills and intentions of an Effective Listener

By knowing which ones are your default strengths and weakness we can begin improving as an effective listener.

  1. Recall the details
    • a. It’s important to be able to retain specific information during a conversation. It’s a mental exercise to recall the details and can be very frustrating at times when we get down too much into the weeds. Knowing specific information important when the next steps is to act after the conversation or meeting.
  2. Understanding the Big Picture
    • Being able to grasp the overall meaning and key ideas of the what has been said can lead us to a greater understanding as a listener. By being able to ask ourselves “how will this affect us five years from now?” or “How can I explain this to an oustider?” we are able to strategize and focus on the vision. This enables us to be able to truly learn what we listen to
  3. Attending the subtle cues
    • By attending to the subtle cues, we pay attention to the non-verbal cues that still convey the meaning. It’s our role as listeners to ‘get the hint’ and understand what they are truly saying.
  4. Evaluating the content
    • It’s one thing to be aware of the details and facts, but another to move towards judgement and critically question what we hear. This involved asking about the viability of the argument, the fallacies and how they are staying on topic. This skill can lead to a lot of conflict if we are quick to arrive to judgement before understanding the true purpose of listening.
  5. Empathizing with the speaker
    • Being able to empathize to the speaker is being able to understand the emotional state of the speaker. These are things that are often not directly said. By mirroring their body language and tone, ‘tell me more about that’, we can diffuse our emotions and judgements and be able to thoroughly detect conflict.

The Execution of All Things

It was an hour past midnight, New Year’s Eve at a friend’s party. I was grilling a guy about his “startup” idea knowing that he about to move to Seattle, WA. I was jealous. Another app? Riveting. Another guy leaving Milwaukee? That’s great. I always end up asking the same question, “How did you know what you want to do?” A field research staple, collecting data points as though all these answers were going to help me answer that question myself.

In absolute NYE drunk phase, I remember staring at a moving mouth and the sound of his voice and chatter, once fading, were starting to get louder and louder. “What do you want to do? What are you passionate about?” He was staring straight at my blank face. Trying to force out an answer, I took a deep breath and exhaled, “I see all these horrible things in the world, and I realize it was just a guy who chose to do something about it. Well, I have ideas too, and I want to be able to do something with them!”

Simple as that. I finally answered that age-old question, 25 years later.

That’s the long story no one asked for. And that’s why I’m learning how about web development and how to code. It’s more than just the buzzword for me.

I started in healthcare, shuffling between the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare facilities, churning out financial reports and dashboard analyses without a lick of intellectual ground and aesthete. I became absolutely immersed in the automaticity and acceptability of my performance. It was great.

But I remained distracted. Certain themes do persist in my habits outside of work, which is where all the play takes part. I always loved to read about the design of everyday things, but I always found it really hard to relate the topics with other people. 80/20 rule? That’s cool. To me, it was mind blowing. There are rules that every single thing in this world obeys and it made the world so beautiful. Similar to the fundamentals of my science background, there were so many elements begging to be broken down into pieces and putting it back together to see something new. (This is the part in my writing where I realize Science is Design!)

Moving to the presidential election, and well, all the shit that has been happening in the world. I was in inspired by the few who were able to be the voice of reason. To be able to be so consumed by the world around them and turn it into their work. What was it that was different about them? They were all designers. Visionaries. The movers and shakers. The ones that make the world a better place.

I simply wanted to take part in changing the world, at least, increase my understanding of how the world works and how or why certain people feel the certain way. The next step to take was learning what tools I needed. It was only necessary and inevitable that I learned how to code. Code is the medium of the digital age. No, the digital age is no longer the future, it’s the present. It’s going to be (and it has been) a big change on the tools I already use.

My journey towards web development, and design and everything that I am not, has only begun but I’ve never felt more motivated and optimistic. The resources and the community of web design may be unlimited and generous, but it’s going to take time, as I learn how to learn and unlearn. It’s been a rough start, it feels like I’m doing some black magic. It’s the web! It holds so much opportunity. A platform to communicate, and of course, to finally execute my ideas.

Keeping Things Simple

Keeping it simple requires a lot of active discipline and mindfulness. I’m starting to learn the power of maintaining my daily routine and good habits in order to stay grounded, doggedly avoid distractions and conserve my energy. 

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a native Portlander. He believed in the singularity of things, an idea akin to minimalism and only being able to experience one thing at a time. “You can have as many pairs of shoes you like, but you’re only going to wear one at a time.” The same goes to the clothes I wear, the bike I ride, books I read and conversations I have. We really only need one, or none. And we really don’t need a lot. However, we are so inclined to buy more stuff that we think we need. We think the excess will make us feel more secure, seeking fulfillment in material things in order to compensate for our deficiencies. 

I’m continually in the process of eliminating the clutter, from the things I own to the habits I have. My personal rehabilitation. We start learning the principles of simplicity and minimalism out of pure necessity in order to fight life’s materialistic entropy and pursue a more enriching life. It’s reassuring to hear words of Adrienne Rich and guiding Cheryl Strayed down the trails of the PCT, “The more you know the less you need.”