Traveling and Reading. Thinking, questioning and dialoguing.

Traveling and reading: going to the coast of Honduras, to the coast of Guatemala and to San Pedro Sula while reading John Stuart and Harriet Mill, Hayek and “The Clash of Economics” was very mind stimulating. Lately I have been aware of things that I never noticed before. No wonder my theory, how I see the world, has changed dramatically and is still changing at this moment. It is amazing how one can examine the same object or phenomena through different spectacles of theory. I am glad to be more aware of other things besides soccer and the weather. I am definitely more alive now than ever before. I am more conscious of the beautiful things that surround us: people, culture, interactions, architecture, questions, dialogues, customs, food, nature, the sea, trees, the soil, etc. We are surrounded by many miracles. It is unexplainable to me how the architecture varies from town to town. With architecture comes along variations in costumes and in how people see the world. Wow! Isn’t all of this amazing? People even speak Spanish in different ways and use different words depending on the town and place where you are.

Awareness was not always beautiful during Spring Break. Even if change and difference seemed super cool to me at times, at other times it worried me. Emergence got me trilled at times yet at other times it worried me. It all started when I noticed that in San Pedro the prices at a gas station where a lot cheaper than the gas in Guatemala. I thought that the price probably has something to do with some kind of government regulation because it is unlikely that the price in that gas station was half the price of a gas station in Guatemala. I recalled how Hayek says that prices changing are good signals that the markets are free and that resources are being allocated in the best possible way by individuals freely exchanging their property. Then I started to think about how things would be like in a place where no government existed. Well, I thought again about Hayek: what give stability or security to the action of individuals are institutions (rules, costumes, traditions). Well, the government is obviously a set of institutions, but what are the institutions that exist outside of the bubble of a government? Wearing clothes, using money as a medium of exchange, showering, being honest, and many other rubrics. But how come these rubrics would give me the confidence to trust someone to do business with that person? It is nice to think about these imaginary constructions of life without a government. It is a problem that I am so attached to the idea of a government, it is hard to think outside the box in these terms. It worried me that constant change in the world, in prices and in everything else would drive me insane. I was picturing chaos and incapability to make decisions in such a world. It scared me as it sometimes scares me that even with a government I have nothing secured as for my future. Nothing can be taken for granted in this world. Once day my business might be booming but if I make a dramatically bad prediction it might go broke tomorrow. One day I might have a job at a big company and the next day that company doesn’t need my service any longer and fires me. I wonder what I am going to do for a living. It is carry to take responsibility for my own actions, to internalize the consequences and don’t blame anyone for what might go wrong except me. It is hard to be a tiger but I am far from willing to pay the price of being a lamb or someone in eternal nonage. Oh Carmen! Ignorance is not bliss.

My family and I were on the car and I still had all of these ideas in my head when we were stopped by a control post by the Guatemalan police. I was annoyed at the beginning because on our way to Honduras nobody asked for our identification, nor the car papers on the frontier of Guatemala. And alrighty, here they are stopping us now, when we could have transported a stolen car, guns or children from Guatemala to Honduras. “The drug war is such a farce, we better be paying attention to the things that matter” I thought. I was annoyed until I noticed the guns that the police officers where carrying. They were huge! It was scary. I started to think that I didn’t have any means to defend myself from those guns and I thought about how people in armies most of the time follow orders without being conscious nor responsible for the actions they are taking. These people probably don’t know why they are doing the things that they do. It was scary to stand in front of a lot of people holding guns. Even if they were not holding them but just carrying them. Even if they made no attempt to harm us… I felt vulnerable. I think that we should find ways to protect ourselves without having the need to carry a gun. I recalled what I read from one of the essays on gender equality by John Stuart Mill: If men are perceived and acceptably thought to be better than women (he was writing in the 1850s) just because they are physically stronger (even this might be put to doubt at times) than women, then we are no better than a lot of animals who are stronger than humans. Civilization is supposed to have given us greater independence from the use of force as a means to attaining our ends. Violence and the cops standing in front of me with big guns made me feel scare and doubt this.

The coast of Guatemala

The coast of Guatemala

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Field Trip to Pasac, Nahualá, Sololá.

DAY 1: Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Our trip from Guatemala City (UFM), to our first stop (Las Tres Marias, Santa Barbara, Suchitepequez) took us about 2 hours. On our way I was feeling very energized and happy although Grace, Javi T, and Lore were not coming with us. I slept while we were getting out of the city but kept awake where the Bocacosta began. I love the Coast so much, the views, the countryside, the palms, tress, skyline, the people, the food and the calmness. Oh, the warm and the sun are always calling me. I wanted to grab the bus microphone to narrate to the MPCers my stories from my motherland (haha). I got to show them where my school was and where you have to turn if you want to go to Santa. I can’t tell you how excited I was feeling.

Our way from Santa Bárbara to Las Tres Marías was kind of weird, at least to me. Don Arturo, the bus driver, didn’t know that we were stopping in Santa Barbara and the bus wheels were too low for the rocky and troubled road. I was feeling stressed because I was the one organizing this detour and it is a shame that we didn’t communicate it to the bus guy. Still, for the ones who were looking, the landscape from our way there was simply beautiful. I remember that Majo commented something like: “this is our beautiful Guatemala”. I thought that we are just humans and that what we are looking at was just the world, not a country in specific. Nationality is now nonsensical to me and later on I will explain why.

Yes! We finally arrived at the School in 3 Marías. We were about to start our activity with the kids (the making of wallets out of cardboard) when I started to notice the first thing from most of the kids and from the mothers of the kids that were there. They were extremely pessimistic, they didn’t have hope and they didn’t trust themselves, nor their abilities. It was really shocking that the first comments and the common reaction of many when we told them that we were going to make a wallet out of milk cardboard were: “I am not capable of doing this”, “I will not be able to do this”, “mine will not be as pretty as the sample one that you are showing to us”. Wow, both the mothers and the kids were whispering these things. Most of the kids looked scared but still of them looked happy and excited, as we, the MPCers were feeling. It was really refreshing and rewarding to find out that during the process of creating and with the accomplishment of having a final product, the kids started to be more open and everyone was smiling. All of the children and their mothers were able to finish their wallets and all of them were decorated in unique and beautiful ways. It was really nice to share a moment with these children, 2 hours of fun that they were probably not going to have otherwise. I loved to see how my peers related to the children and how we only helped them through explaining how to do things instead of doing it for them. It was very Montessorian. We saw potential in every child and we were only there to give them help when needed. We enjoyed being around them as well as they enjoyed being around us. Even though I didn’t know these kids I felt that they were good people, I felt connected to them in some way.

Tres Marias School

Tres Marias School

After this we finally arrived to Sololá and it was pretty crazy how the architecture changed. The houses were built a lot different, even the central parks had a different architecture, depending on the town. The materials used to build houses changed, the colors used to paint them, etc. “We are not a country,” -I thought again-, we are just human beings and we are all different. Even the towns that were 10 km were in some or many ways different from each other. When we arrived to Roots and Wings in Pasac, our “nim chich”  (bus) got locked in a ditch. The moment when everything occurred was funny and scary, all at one. Javier P and I were saying our usual jokes in the microphone. Javi said: “we are preparing for our initial descent” and I said “your oxygen masks are underneath your seats, fasten up yours and secure it on your mouth and nose before placing them on your children”. Sudently, in a small space in between the trees, a woman was weaving, I said: “To your left, you can see a woman weaving”. Isa didn’t see it and since the bus was going downhill, the bus driver went back up so that everyone could see the woman. The problem was that he didn’t change the direction of the ties and so 3 seconds later half of the bus was sunken in a ditch.  The cool thing was that people started to come out of their homes to help us pull the bus out of the ditch. I could write an entire page on this happening. Oh, something that Kata later pointed out during debrief is that only men helped to pull out the bus, all of the women from the community were only staring at them.

Pasac is a beautiful Quiche (indigenous) rooted community located in a part of Sololá that is still Bocacosta. I say that it is a beautiful community not only because of the landscapes, but mainly because of the people that live there. Everyone was extremely nice and generous to us. Everyone said hi and smiled to us. The inhabitants of Pasac are well organized; they have their own police composed of 20 member of the community that give their service to the people for one year each. I really felt safe, and children were always outside of their homes, out in the streets, even at night! And their families didn’t worry because the place is safe. Even women were really safe and that is something not that common in Guatemala. Roots and Wings gave us two main guides: Alfredo and Helio. Alfredo was super nice and he prepared a presentation where he exposed to us the Nahuales that each of us are.  Nahuales depend on the day and year you were born and they are supposed to say something about your personality and your “nature”. It was really funny to listen to the description of the Nahual each of us was because the descriptions seemed very accurate to each person. I was “Batz” whose animal is a dolphin. Pablito was also a Batz. Alfredo then showed to us the homes were we stayed for the time that we were there. My home was located in front of Roots and Wings and it was the Manuela, Francisco, Fredy, Helio and Julio family. Their house was pretty, Manuela had a beautiful and big smile and Fredy was always around us. Bert joked that he was our mascot because he was always there for us in most of the activities that we did from sun to moon.

Day 2: Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The day started off with me having a cold shower. The water was ice cold but it helped me to wake up and feel energized. Breakfast was also delicious and it was nice to have breakfast together with the MPC, all in the same table. We painted the building of Roots and Wings and then we played soccer with the kids from the school in Pasac. It was really fun both to paint and to play soccer. Both of the activities were very tiring and by lunch I was feeling extremely hungry and sleepy. P.S. Javier painted a beacon of hope and I scored a goal during the soccer game. Oh, and I noticed that not even one girl from the school played soccer, it was only boys and the MPCers. Javi and I played basketball afterwards for 10 minutes with some girls from the school. I really had a lot of fun. I missed exercising, playing a sport and screaming, it had been such a long time.

After lunch, I had a nap with other MPCers in Bert’s room and then we went to see the process of water purification along with the packing of the same into water bottles. The part that I enjoyed the most was the one of sealing the plastic at the top of the water bottles with a hair dryer. Then we had our first Quiché lessons with Alfredo. It was really nice to learn some Quiché and to see him teach us with his permanent smile. I asked him what made him happy and he told me that he was happy because he had three jobs, and because his grandma had just come out of a disease and because we were visiting.

Now I will copy here what I wrote down that night after the day was over:

Today I had a Maria Montessori experience with about 8 kids who were first staring at me, then touching me and then following me. In reality it was me following them because they knew the way back to Roots and Wings but it was really nice to hold their hands and to talk with them for a while. Some of the girls were taking turns to see who will hold my hand. They asked me to dance and they laughed a lot at this. I practiced how to say hi in Quiché. And I noticed that the babies were kind of afraid of me and wouldn’t allow me to carry them because I was talking to them in Spanish. I learned how to say come with me (chá tojó wuk) in Quiché and I hope to learn more tomorrow. Today it was a shock for me to see these kids out of their houses without their families worrying about their whereabouts. I commented this to Bert and he told me that actually that is normal to many kids, it’s just that I grew up in a more violent and insecure place that didn’t allow me to go out that much and explore. It was also shocking to me that there are many things that I take for granted as normal or not normal because I grew up in the coast of Guatemala, but some of these things were new to my peers who grew up in the City. For instance, I knew that I didn’t have to talk to most of the people from the community with complex words, but they used them and it stressed me out because I thought that a lot of persons didn’t understand. I also thought that everyone knew what Incaparina is, but some tried it for the first time in this trip. Oh there are a lot of differences in our hygiene costumes and in their hygiene costumes. It is not normal for them to bath and wash their teeth every day. It is normal to them to go to bed with the same clothes that they used during the day and to use the same clothes the next day. Maybe it makes more sense to bathe and change only once in a while, only when we really smell haha.  This is just another reason why countries don’t provide a useful definition of a certain place. How would I define Guatemala? I don’t know, all of the communities, landscapes and people are sooooo different from each other………Today I felt happy, tired and sad at the same time. Poverty makes me feel sad, seeing women do very little things as well as children that don’t go to school. Yet I looked up at the stars and I thought that it is amazing that we all share the very same stars. We are looking at the same sky. All of humanity share the stars. –Strong feelings: I don’t even know what to do. Why am I feeling this way? I felt like crying a lot of times today. Love is so confusing. I don’t want to break hearts nor do I want my heart to be broken. I don’t want it to be “to late”, yet I am not taking any action and just the thought of it makes me feel afraid. I wish I could do both. I wish I could kiss you in the cheek. I want to give away my love, I am tired of holding it back.

Day 3: Thursday, April 3, 2014

Las night we learned the lyrics and rhythm of the “Down To The River To Pray” song in order to be able to sing it today on our way down the river. Well, actually it was a walk up the mountain and not downwards which was weird. It was a long walk but it was totally worth it. The river was super cold, it was so energizing and refreshing. We were surrounded by nature, man was I feeling happy. I took going up the river as a challenge and it was really cool. We found a nice Jacuzzi where the color of the water looked surreal. It was really pretty. On our way there, I had a long conversation with Alfredo. Well, I was basically just asking questions and listening to his answers but I learned so much of the guerilla and of the story of his family and the story of Pasac. Agg it angers me how government often destroys the things that people had already created on their own and the organization that they have achieved. It was really crazy to learn how many people discriminated indigenous people during that time and still today. In the buses, they used to have sings that read “ladinos in front, Indians behind” and indigenous people weren’t allowed to sit in the front of the buses. That is why many men who worked outside of the community stopped using their traditional dress and replaced them for jeans, just to be able to sit down in the front of a bus. I was surprised because I didn’t know much about this. Neither did I know about the autonomy of this community. They have their own ways of implementing justice.

I visited the homes of Diego and Kata’s family after we went for our second night of French fries. It was really nice to share with other families and I was impressed that in Diego’s house they listened to the newest album of Miley Cirus, haha. I bet that she doesn’t imagine how far she got.  It is really cool that we are all more connected now that the world gets flatter by the day. Long live technology and humanity! I am amazed by how much people smile in this place and by how safe it is. Today I walked on my own at 9 PM, oh, and wearing short shorts haha. That was something new for me.

Day 4: Friday, April 4, 2014

Goodbye Pasac, and goodbye to my eternal Bocacosta smile. Goodbye to my family and to my Fredy who is so full of energy and curiosity. I hope he stays that way. Goodbye to Alfredo who was a perfect host to us and who is extremely happy, grateful, and talented.  I wish everyone the best of luck and I wish their happiness to continue. I hope I can lean that from them and be as happy as they are. What an awesome experience, thank you Pasac!!!

 

 

“THE NOW HABIT” by Neil Fiore

Why do we procrastinate? Because we think that a task is too overwhelming or boring.

Are you doing something meaningful? Of course we have to work but don’t let a week pass by without you doing something that is very meaningful to you. Doing this is what makes you happy!

We always have a lot of things to do: Get organized and enjoy guilt free play.

What is the Now Habit?  Focusing on the things that you can do, instead of feeling stressed, bad or overwhelmed by the things that are hard or that you can’t do. Be a producer, feel a producer and act as a producer.

New definition of Procrastination: We’ve had enough of self-criticism and breaking things into small parts as well as prioritizing. Being honest, procrastination makes sense if you are perfectionist or if you feel vulnerable about anything. What we need to overcome procrastination is another approach. An attitude of gratefulness and a positive attitude while we do work that is meaningful to us. “Procrastination is a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associate with starting or completing any task or decision.”

Ph.D. Niel Fiore to the rescue: Stop seeing work as something negative and apart from yourself that you just have to get done to survive. Work can be fun, meaningful and motivational. Fiore is not only giving us “how-to’s” but he offers a strategic system based on the dynamics of procrastination and motivation.

CHAPTER 1: WHY WE PROCRASTINATE

Remember that we are humanly imperfect. Reward yourself with something after you got something done. Why? Because we will always have something new in our to-do list so we better celebrate the things that we get done. We also shouldn’t forget that we are not our projects, so if something that we do goes wrong it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with us. We are not our work. When we shift this paradigm out of our minds we start thinking and behaving as producers.

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Being in the role of a victim also allows us to continue procrastinating by claiming that we are not the one responsible for our own lives.

We are not perfect but we are perfectly human.

We are sometimes fearful of failing or of getting out of our comfort zone, so we procrastinate or delay challenges as much as we can. In the end we are the only ones losing, lamenting and stressing out.

CHAPTER 2: HOW WE PROCRASTINATE:

Know how you spend most of your time and check how long it takes you to do specific tasks. Know your times, when you are productive, when you are not, notice when you do things and write them down. Keep a record from a week and then turn it into a procrastination log. In your log, examine your weekly record and try to answer to questions like: why am I delaying this task so much? Recognize the tasks or projects that you are skipping and divide them into small tasks that you can get going at the moment. Stop being scared and start creating. Your worth is not the same as the one of your performance. Have compassion with the fact that you are human and therefore not perfect. Remind this mantra to yourself every time that you are procrastinating out of fear. Be more adventurous and create, produce more and be scared less.

CHAPTER 3: HOW TO TALK TO YOURSELF

Focus on changing you inner dialogue, the language you use to express the things that you ought to do. If you alienate yourself from them as in saying that you have to do something that you rather not do, you are dividing yourself between a victim and an authority. In reality YOU are your only authority so whenever you choose to do something, tell yourself so. Saying and thinking that you have to do things leads to stress. As an adult that you are you have the power to decide what to do and to take responsibility for your decisions. Should’s are messages of depression because you are comparing a current state with something perfect that is not where you are now. Instead of focusing on blames and on comparison, focus your energy on results, what you have achieved and on a plan to get where you want to get.

“Whenever you catch yourself losing motivation on a project, look for the implicit “have to” in your thinking and make a decision at that moment to embrace the path—as it is, not the way you think it should be—or let go of it. It’s your choice.”

On your way to become a producer you will also need to learn how to say no.

Replace:

  • “I must finish” with “When can I start?”
  • “I have to” with “I choose to.”
  • “This project is so big and important” with “I can take one small step.”
  • “I must be perfect” with “I can be perfectly human.”
  • “I don’t have time to play” with “I must take time to play.”

CHAPTER 4: GUILT-FREE PLAY, QUALITY WORK

The time for play and doing the things that you love the most isn’t a waste of time. It is a time where you can re-create yourself so that then you can work better. Unlike common gossip, the people who produce the most and who are more efficient in their work are also the ones that play more.

Children have no problems with motivation. A three-year-old will insist on being involved with sweeping the floor or helping with the dishes. It’s all play and learning for the child. But that native excitement about learning gets lost through the process of being taught how to conform to social expectations and that there is punishment for not conforming. There’s nothing particularly wrong with understanding social expectations; what’s so damaging is the insidious manner in which such teaching too often communicates that we are lazy and could be bad procrastinators. As Winston Churchill said, addressing a similar issue, “Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.”

CHAPTER 5: OVERCOMING BLOCKS TO ACTION

Waiting until you have a huge chunk of time to do the work in isolation that you need to get done is never going to help you. The costs of doing this are too high, so you rather use your opportunity cost procrastinating.

Push method vs pull method: Push concentrates on punishments, while the pull method takes a positive attitude of looking for solutions to a problem and on rewards. Pleasure and collaboration motivate us, rather than pain.

“to control your work habits you must make the periods of work shorter (less painful) and the rewards more frequent and immediate (more pleasurable)—interlacing short periods of work with breaks and rewards.”

Play hard so that you can work more efficiently!!

Sometimes, while you play, a solution to the problem you were trying to solve at work might come to you as a gift from your subconscious and as literally thinking outside the box. Having a positive attitude, an attitude of wanting to accomplish a mission.

Three major fears that we need to overcome:

  1. Terror of being overwhelmed

Possible solutions: three dimensional thinking and the reverse calendar: Plan things out, divide your big projects into next actions. There are many great places to start so don’t think too much on where to start and actually do start. Don’t wait until you have all the info to start a project, you will learn along the way! Instead of thinking about the “should-be’s”, have compassion with yourself and start off with grace on whatever you want to get done. Reverse calendar: set the deadline for your project, write down, and then go backwards with the actions that you need to get done, step by step.

  1. Fear of failure

The work of worrying: Tackle the fear of failure and the fear of being imperfect. Always do your best to carry on, even if presented with a terrible scenario. Prepare for the worst while you do everything that you can for the best.

Fear of not finishing:

Persisting Starting: Insist on approaching your problems with a solution; try to be aware of these things: Take a positive approach, ask yourself: when can I start?

CHAPTER 6: THE UNSCHEDULE

An unscheduled is a schedule where you include time for reacreation, socializing, breaks, play and where all of these have the same value as work. When you have a lot of fun things to do in your calendar, you realize that the time you have for work is scarce and so you need to use it wisely and effectively.

Set 30 minutes to figure out how to solve a problem or start working on the things that you have been postponing. It also works to fill in the time when you start really focused work and when you stop.  To be productive reward yourself and focus on playing.

  1. Schedule only your time for re-creation. Do not include things from work.
  2. Fill in your Unschedule with work on projects only after you have completed at least one-half hour.
  3. Take credit only for periods of work that represent at least thirty minutes of uninterrupted work, if you stopped during the 28th minute, it doesn’t count. It’s also about discipline.
  4. Reward yourself with a break or a change to a more enjoyable task after each period worked.
  5. Keep track of the number of quality hours worked each day and each week. Sum them up. Emphasize what you accomplished. Reward yourself, feel proud of your work.
  6. Always leave at least one full day a week for recreation and any small chores you wish to take care of. Don’t feel guilty about re-creating yourself.
  7. Do not allow yourself to have an awesome time before first working for 30 minutes on a project.
  8. Taking a positive approach: Replace all thoughts about finishing with thoughts about when, where, and on what you can start.
  9. Think small. Aim for 30 minutes of quality focused work.
  10. Keep starting.
  11. In order to create good habits, reward yourself only after some work has been done. Do not avoid your projects, don’t stop when it gets hard.

Chapter 7. -WORKING IN THE FLOW STATE

We all have had times when our minds really get focused on what we are doing and we work a lot without really noticing that time has been passing by, without noticing anything besides what we are so consciously and effortlessly doing.

Temporary suspend criticism in order to start a project. Be as creative as you can be and remember that it is only your first draft. This means that whatever you are doing will be a work in progress; something that you can build upon and improve later. Concentrate on the present, let go of the past and future.

Chapter 8. -FINE-TUNING YOUR PROGRESS

Allow your mind to flow under the thought of procrastination. As you do this, notice the process of self-criticism and how it leads to guild and depression. This way you can also become aware of under what instances you are more likely to procrastinate.

To tackle procrastination use the techniques shown in this book: start by using a producers vocabulary (I will choose to start now), the unschedule and focusing exercises to get into a flow state much faster, focusing on the present with choice motivation and interest. If you don’t achieve all of these things, stand up and try again. You will also need to use “hardiness” which includes commitment, control, and challenge. Turn your difficulties into opportunities.

Concentration: It is not true that you can’t concentrate, what might be true is that you are not concentrated on the things that you ought or would prefer to be concentrate on at specific times. Dr. Martha Maxwell enumerates five types of distractions:

1. Strong emotions: whenever you are distracted by this kind of thought, give emotions your immediate attention. You might want to think for a while on what you can do to change the situation and you can write it down so that you can feel more relief.

2. Warnings of Danger: Often when we are stressed we think about threads and the terrible things that are going to happen to us if we don’t get to finish the work on time. Try to create a plan to make things happen and don’t feel pressured or agitated by this kind of distraction.

3. “To-Do” Reminders: When you are trying to get something done but the rest of the things that you still have to do start popping into you mind, write down the distractions so that you can relieve yourself from the burden of having to remember and deal with them later.

4. Escape Fantasies: When you have been working for a long time it is more like that you will have fantasies about food, sex or vacations. Record your fantasies and plan them for your guilt free play work in you unschedule.

5. UFOs-Unidentified Flights of Originality: Creative thoughts that are not useful to you at this time. You can let them go by or write them down and consider them latter.

Oh, remember that there is no path in life that requires no effort. Set specific, functional and observable goals that you can complete. It is energy dragging to write down huge list of things that you never complete. Freely choose your goals and when you choose them pursuit them with all of your guts and effort.

Chapter 9. -THE PROCRASTINATOR IN YOUR LIFE

This chapter is about how we live in a world where we often encounter procrastinators. Be it a family member, a co-worker, a friend, our spouse, etc. What we can do for them is model our standards, offer our support and help procrastinators be realistic. What we shouldn’t do is trying to decide what’s good for them or judge their moral standards. Remember that it is our problem and not theirs because many times other people don’t care about procrastination or don’t know what to do about it. Share with them the techniques that you learned in this book like using a reverse schedule to always be on time, etc.

Some things that people can try in work are: stating clear priorities, being decisive, being fair and frequent in the given rewards, and giving constructive feedback.

ComplianceCommitment feedback finishing

 

Far and away from myself as a body and my first First Tuesday!

“My mind is flying away from my body. My body can hardly cope with what my mind at this moment. I feel so excited, nervous and happy at the same time. This is it! I rather do things now, when I can. Yes, I am signing up for more.” I wrote this after having a job interview at a marketing startup. I love the idea of signing up for a job of which I have no idea of, where I learn things along the way and on a daily basis.

Some hours later…

I find myself here at the First Tuesday event at UFM. It is my first time at a First Tuesday and I am really excited and happy to be here. Does this count as a meta-first? I mean, my first time in a First Tuesday. Anyways, Fritz Thomas has just started off the night saying: “To profit is good”. Yeah, profit is good because in order to make profit, entrepreneurs have to add value to the lives of other people. People buy what they value.

It was pitch time for three people at FT. Boy was I proud of the MPCers on our first pitch for Heuristica. The pitches were terrible. I just learned what NOT to do for a pitch. The first presentation even had typos, grammatical and orthographical errors. Most of what the orator said seemed unclear to me and I never understood what he wanted to get from that pitch. The presentations were not appealing even appealing to the eye.

Off with the bad, in with the good. The entrepreneur of the month: Francisco Menéndez, was simply awesome. He was a chapin bien chilero. Everyone laughed in his presentation and I would also say that everyone learned from him. I will be posting the video on his presentation when it becomes available through New Media.

Learnings I got from his presentation:

  • Go to fairs: travel and see what other people in other countries are doing in your same industry. Open up your mind and enlarge your vision of what you can do with your products and how to develop them. The sky is the limit!
  • Clamp post it’s with following that you are giving to every presentation card you get. And do follow your commitments.
  • One never stops making mistakes
  • As productive as it gets, Dr. David Sumanth: there is always room for improvement and for cuts in costs.
  • If one sees an opportunity it is great to take it because if one does not take it other people will take it.
  • Be nice with your clients: try to have as personal relationship with them as it is possible and ask very often for feedback.
  • Constantly ask yourself, your employers, employees and the people who surround you: What next? What can we improve now?
  • Whatever your idea is, think big enough to export it! Don’t stick to your country. Open your mindset to new opportunities and possibilities. Constantly look for these opportunities and whenever you find one, go with it!

Are Their Faces That Different from Ours?

Today we watched a film/documentary called “Night and Fog” published by the Criterion Collection. This film incorporates media: photos and video, from the 40s in the Nazi concentration camps. This was the first time that I ever watched videos from that time; I had only seen pictures before. I cannot even put into words what my feelings and thoughts were while watching the film. Every time that I thought I had already seen the worst things, something even more horrifying was shown afterwards. I have no words to describe the atrocities that the Nazi regime and ideas generated. Wow.

It was easy to forget that the communist, homosexuals, Jews, criminals, etc. were human because of the way people treated them. They were not treated as people; they were not even treated as dogs. One of the images that really struck me is one of a dog walking around a concentration camp with freedom to do whatever he wanted, with love and apparently even with food because he was far from being as skinny as the people inside the camps. Even dogs were better fed and free, unlike men! I guess that it gets easier to think of people as merchandise and as objects if that is how people treat them all the time. Little by little the mentality of the Germans was shaped to hate, resentment and destruction. This mentality was shaped by small actions, by jokes, gossip and comments. Little by little everyone started to believe in these ideas. Was it out of fear? Was it out of a lack of questioning themselves? Was it out of accepting everything/anything that an authority said? Was it because of the thought that law makes things moral? Was it out of gossip? Was it really out of hate?

The only words that I may use to describe this event is: outrageousness and insanity. The lack of individuality showed by the soldiers is crazy. Each, claimed that they were only following orders and that they had no option and were not responsible for any of their actions. But if they were not responsible, then who was? Who was controlling their minds and bodies? Why did they even permit this? Why was everyone taking part on this madness? We can’t be like sheep all the time. If we do nothing to change what we think is wrong then we are being sheep. We can’t be blaming others for our own mistakes. We are responsible for what we think and for what we do.

I remember how the thought of WWII used to scare me, ever since I was a little girl. One of my cousins watched “The Book Thief” and ever since she has been very interested and surprised by the Holocaust. She is 9 years old and she recognized that the evilness of killing 9,000,000 people is out of question. It is obviously wrong to treat people like that and to judge individuals as part of a group. It is awful to kill people because they were born in a certain place or under a certain religion. I remember how I also recognized this when I was a little kid. There is no excuse for people to claim that the Nazis didn’t know all the harm that they were doing. Every sane person can notice that they were up to no good. But, hey! No one noticed or so it seems, because no one acted until it was fairly late. Don’t let other people scare you. Take ownership, control and responsibility for your life and stop being sheep that other sheep control! Be your own hero, become your better self with every day that goes by. Do what’s right and don’t let others tell you otherwise. Listen to the people who are worth it, who add you value and ignore and stop the negative comments and gossip generated by others. It was with small actions that the Holocaust started. Don’t let it happen again. This happened a few years ago and it could happen again. Today, it is YOUR turn to take responsibility and to not let such a thing happen again! Promise to yourself that starting today you will be very aware of how your thoughts and actions affect, shape and change your environment and the people that surround you.

#SOSVENEZUELA Ideas Matter!

Since yesterday’s night I have been feeling very sad because I watched a video that shows the terrible things that are happening in Venezuela. It is amazing that few people have total control over Venezuela in such an illegitimate way. What Venezuelan’s live today is truly a dictatorship and a dictatorship that is possible because of ignorance and naïveness. Any UFO would say that we, humans are crazy because we kill our own people and because we oppress the ones who say anything that we don’t like.

During the weekend I met with some of my cousins that very often claim that UFM is an idealistic place and that it is ridiculous to defend and fight for ideas. I think that Venezuela has just proved to us the importance of debating, reading, studying and fighting for these ideas. IDEAS REALLY MATTER. And yes, it may be hard to believe this because it is one of those worn out phrases that people very often say, just like YOLO. But, hey! It looks like we don’t really understand what “ideas really matter” mean. Ideas are the ones that guide people to act in certain ways. Ideas explain the facts and knowledge is what safeguards a nation from totalitarian regimes. Ideas are the cause and the medicine of oppressed individuals, oppressed expression, discussion and action. Oppressed by people who claim to know better than the rest, who set themselves in a god-like position to mandate and oppress others.

We are not that far from Venezuela as we think. A lot of new regulations are set by the government every day that give the few more control of the more and who oppress us little by little. Coercion by coercion and plunder by plunder the government crushes our natural rights. And they only do this because we permit it and because we are not aware of the ideas that some of these politicians have in mind and we aren’t aware of where these ideas can take us. S.O.S. Venezuela, S.O.S. to humanity, S.O.S to the entire world.

Motivation, Truth and Coercion

As I shared with the class during our dialogue of Bastiat, I had a conversation with a friend during the weekend about the “motivational factors”. My friend claimed that the pursuit of money and power along with two other factors were the ones that motivated people and that were necessary for someone to be happy. I couldn’t be more in disagreement with this idea that people NEED extrinsic motivation (motivation coming from the outside) in order to be happy and independent. It is dangerous to treat people and to think about them as if they were inner matter or merely atoms waiting for other persons to work upon them. Just because some people claim that they are more rational, know better and are on top of every other person in the world. From personal experience I deny all of these claims. I am a human, I have intrinsic motivation and that makes me happy, I act, I want to become better by having more of what I value. I am more than matter, I have a life and therefore I don’t need to receive one, either from the state or from any other person who claims to be on top of me. Especially if the only way these people use to achieve their ends is through coercion, which is legal plunder. Legal because it is the law, still it is plunder in its very nature. That something is legal does not mean that it is moral or that in the first place it should be the law.

Beware of these dangerous ideas! And yes, one ought to believe whatever one wishes to believe and that is perfectly fine as long as one does not impose these ideas by force upon others. As long as no rights are being violated, you can think whatever you want. Besides, it is nonsense to force people into believing what you believe with all your heart to be the truth. If something is the truth, that means that you can rationally explain it to someone without forcing them to believe so. It is reason that we as humans have in common; and we above anyone else in the world know what motivates us, what we love to do, what we need, and, what our goals are. It is our job, choice and responsibility to figure out the best means to achieve our ends.

Feelings, Metacognition and Questions

Sometimes I’m not good at interacting with people. I don’t know how to approach them, I am afraid of saying something but at the same time I know that I should be saying something. I often think too much and act so little, where did my inner child go? Why am I blaming people for what only I can change? Why sometimes I feel so little while I am still aware that I could do anything! Why is it that I sometimes feel like I know myself or that I know that I’m good while at other times I feel the opposite way? Why do I get excited out of the blue sometimes and the next minute I am sad or angry? Why do feelings change so fast? Why do I feel like if I don’t love anybody when deep down I know that I really care and love everyone? Why do I torture myself by lying to me? Why is it so hard for me to show people that I love them? Why is it hard for me sometimes to know and understand my feelings?