It´s been my birthday this week, this is how old I am now: 101100.
Written in binary format, of course, honoring my training as a computer scientist, and the title of this blog 😊
But given that a person is way, way more than just one single identity, and given that I never liked that division between “people of science” and “people of letters” (which was very much in fashion, at least in Spain, a few years ago), I´m telling you with letters as well:
It´s been my birthday this week, this is how old I am now: XLIV, in Roman numerals.
Then, if we want to go into “geek” land (which is a term that I do identify with, because if you think about it, deep down we are all “geeks” for something), we can express it in hexadecimal code as well: 0x2C.
My only regret is that I haven´t been able to write it in a particular code that I really like, but that unfortunately only contains symbols for letters, and not numbers… Maybe one day I´ll take my geekiness to a whole new level, and invent Dada Urka numbers 😊
Well, the time has come to add one more number to my version history – version 5.
Here it goes:
V5.0–I develop an interest in coaching
5.1 - I take a three-month-long online course in coaching fundamentals, to see if I like it. I love it.
5.2 - I sign up for a master’s degree in coaching with emotional intelligence and neuro-linguistic programming.
Those of you who know me in person are probably aware that I´ve been interested in the topic of personal growth and development for years… Interestingly, I hadn´t bumped into coaching until last May. When I finally did, it resonated a lot with me, and this weekend I have started my master’s degree :-)
But what is this coaching thing? It’s true that “coach” is a word that is used nowadays for a bunch of different things, which creates confusion, and there are also several definitions of “coaching”, each focusing on a different aspect of it. To simplify, we can say that coaching is a process of accompaniment, in which, through active listening, questions, and other resources, the coach makes it easier for the coachee (or client) to define their own goals, as well as to identify and manage the changes that are needed in order to achieve them.
Going forward, I´ll be sharing in this blog a few things related to the world of coaching, and also about the many tools and resources that it draws from. Regarding definitions, for the moment I´ll leave you with this one, food for thought:
Have you ever been in a situation where you have a problem or a question, and simply by explaining it to another person, you find the solution yourself? And not because the other person did anything in particular...
In fact, “the other person” doesn´t even have to be a person at all. It can even be an object, like a rubber duck for example.
And I say rubber duck because this is exactly the name that´s been given to this technique in the IT world: the rubber duck debugging method., o en inglés, the rubber duck debugging method.
This method proves really useful when you´re programming and get stuck trying to resolve an error (or bug) that´s preventing your application from behaving as it should. The idea is to explain the situation to the rubber duck, and to do it in great detail because of course, the duck knows absolutely nothing about your application. So you have to explain the context, the exact problem you´re trying to solve, how you´re trying to solve it, the code you´ve written line by line… And very often what happens as you´re going through it with such a level of detail is that you suddenly realize where the problem is, and how you can solve it.
Super cool, right?
You might be wondering: ¿why a rubber duck? Honestly, I don’t know, maybe it all started out as a joke, but the truth is that this method is as useful as it is simple (once you get over the awkwardness of talking to a duck, or any other inanimate object of your choosing), and can be used not only for debugging code but for life in general.
I imagine this technique works so well because it forces you to take the problem out of your head and see it from the outside, from a different perspective, so you stop going about it in your head the same way again and again. Moreover, the action of going through it step by step and out loud helps you to focus on details that you may have overlooked before, that way increasing the chances of identifying the real problem and finding a solution.
What do you think? Are you willing to give it a try? Perhaps next time I see a rubber duck in a shop, I´ll buy it to keep it here by my computer :-)
Today I felt like reflecting on the title for this website and blog: binary words... but what do words and binary have in common?
Computers and language? They do have a lot in common.
Did you know that we as people are not so different from computers? We have hardware, our body, which needs energy in order to work. Of course, we don't work on electricity; our energy comes from feeding and hydrating ourselves properly, and from recharging batteries by sleeping and resting :-)
We also have software, a set of "programs" that are running inside our mind. Some of the programs we kick off ourselves, as in the case of computers, and we see them and use them consciously; but in addition to those, the operating system runs many other programs that remain unseen, in the background, making everything work...
That's our unconscious programming, our autopilot, based on beliefs and values that are well established within us and that we rarely question, even though they may not even be ours, and we may have inherited them or acquired them without realizing. And that unconscious programming pulls the strings in our day-to-day a lot more than we can imagine.
Perhaps that autopilot is producing some results that we don´t want in our life. The good news is that we can re-program it, once we find that program or programs that are causing us trouble, or are preventing us from moving in the direction we wish to go.
But how? How can we bring to the light those troublesome "lines of code", and replace them with better ones?
A programming language that we can use is words.
There is a lot of power in words, and this is something we often forget. The way we talk to others matters a lot. And the way we talk to ourselves matters even more, because we give it even less attention, not realizing that it's a crucial factor in how things turn out for us in life.
So let's pay attention to the words around us, the ones that make up our world, the ones we use almost without realizing. How is our internal dialogue? How do we talk to ourselves, and in turn, to other people? What are our words conveying? Complaint, criticism, defeat, negativity?
Those words will give us clues about the programs that may be undermining our efforts to move towards where we want to be. And bit by bit, digging deeper, we will get to see clearly what's behind those words, and we will have the power to transform them into other that help us and encourage us, instead of holding us back. We will have the power to choose our destiny.
And following on with the computer metaphor: we, like computers, need connecting to be able to fully function. Nowadays very little can be done without an internet connection... With people, it may be less obvious, but at the end of the day we are social beings, we need to connect with others emotionally in order to live a full life. And even less obvious, but equally necessary, is to connect with ourselves, to have an interest in getting to know and learning to love ourselves.
The confinement months have tested our ability to connect, and maybe thanks to that, we now appreciate connections more than ever. As the saying goes, it´s all fun and games until you lose your wifi signal! (todo son risas y juegos hasta que pierdes la señal de wifi)
This week, with all the excitement of starting with the blog again, I have felt full of energy. More than once the hours went by in front of my screen without realizing... And all this after having already spent my usual working hours also in front of a screen.
Sum them up and they are many, many hours of screen time.
The fact that the hours go by without realizing is a good sign, I know, I´m enjoying it a lot, and also learning at the same time. On top of writing the posts, I´m also configuring the website myself (now with WordPress, much better than with what I had previously), and I want to do it properly, fully accessible and bilingual Spanish-English. So my time is split between configuring the various plugins and settings (thanks a million Maria for all your advice), thinking of ideas to write about, writing about them, and translating everything that´s already written, not only the posts but also all of the text strings scattered around the site. Let me take this opportunity to ask you: if you see any errors or typos, please let me know so I can fix them, some of you have already done that and I´m grateful for it :-)
Another thing I´m doing this week is taking a crash course in social media, as things have progressed a lot in the last few years. In the old times, writing a blog post was enough; people woud see it in their RSS feed reader, or would subscribe via email, or would visit the website every now and then checking for new content... Now you have to be on social media, the more the better, so I took the plunge and created a Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram account, so that whoever wants to follow me can do it easily.
But of course, all that brings a new challenge: more social network connections, more interesting content available, more notifications and more screen time, as soon as you drop your guard for a moment. That´s why it´s so important to use the internet consciously, and take advantage of the infinite possibilities it gives us without letting it interfere with our life more than it´s necessary.
Not long ago, in a very interesting video I watched on Youtube (more screens), they mentioned that the activities we do on the internet can be divided into creating, consuming and connecting. After months and months of basically consuming content and learning passively, I am really excited about creating (in this case writing, translating and bringing the blog to life), and I even enjoy connecting and reconnecting in new ways through social networks. But I´m also looking forward to being able to go out into the real world again, and connect, create and learn there as well, in a more tangible way and in three dimensions. I´m finding it a bit hard to get started due to lack of habit, but I know the effort will be worth it.
So in summary; walk away from your screen for a while and find something else to do! :-)
The extraordinary circumstances we have lived in this past year have resulted in many of us thinking about reinventing ourselves, be it out of necessity, due to changes in our lives and our surroundings, or simply due to having more time for reflection, for taking an honest look at our life and evaluating the possibility of altering our course.
The word "reinvention" used to sound to me as very radical, and I have to say I was almost afraid of it. Until I remembered what my good friend Bea told me once: that along the way in our own history we are really living many lives; every time we turn a page, it´s a new life.
And I realized I had already reinvented myself, and more than once.
Coming as I am from the IT world, what came to my mind was comparing each of those reinventions with a "version change" in my life. Every significant change has meant some progress, some learning, which I´ve been able to incorporate to the next version of myself. Some of those life events I chose, others I didn´t. Some of them were bigger than others, the same way an operating system or application can get upgraded to a "major" or "minor" version (if I´ve lost you already, here´s more information about software versioning).
So I got to work and ended up building my own version history:
V0 (version zero) - I arrive in this world (more specifically in Cáceres, Spain) on March 10th 1978.
V1.0–I decide to study Computer Engineering - the first "real" decision of my life.
V1.1 - I get a boyfriend.
V1.2 - I finish college and move to Madrid, searching for a job.
V1.3 - I get my first job, in a consulting firm.
V1.4 - I change jobs, my assigned project gets cancelled and they let me go.
V1.5 - I find another job, in another consulting firm.
V1.6 - I get interested in translating, and take a course - university expert in translation Spanish-English
V2.0- I get married and move to Dublin, Ireland
V2.1 - I find my first job in Ireland, as an analyst/programmer, in a great company (bye-bye consulting)
V2.2 - Mi daughter Irene is born - I become a mother.
V2.3 - I have a miscarriage with my second pregnancy.
V2.4 - My daughter Alicia is born.
V2.5 - I take a Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) course.
V3.0–I decide to take a career break, and spend more time with my daughters
V3.1 - I take a course in teaching Spanish as a second language.
V3.2 - My daughter Eva is born.
V4.0–I separate from my husband (later on I get divorced).
V4.1 - I start working in another great company, as a systems analyst.
V4.2 - I buy my own house to live in, with my daughters.
V4.3 - I transition from IT to a business role within the same company.
V4.4 - I adapt myself to working from home and changing the shared custody routine.
So there you go: at least three reinventions, three big changes, with their little gradual changes in between... Funnily enough, my first calculation ended up in version 4.3, now that I´m 43 years old :-)
I hope this example motivates you to reflect on your own experiences, on how you have upgraded versions so many times already, facing big and small challenges, and how you have succeeded and learned with all of them... that will give you confidence to face whatever comes next, continuing to evolve.
In the meantime, as it couldn´t be any other way, I´m already working on my fourth reinvention, preparing version 5.0.