Review: The Power of Habit

By Falon Dominguez

Review of Five Minds for the Future

By Falon Dominguez

Civic Engagement Blog

By Falon Dominguez

Mastering a Skill

Describe an action that you practiced repeatedly over a long period of time and that you now do intuitively.  Identify how the methods you used to internalize this action are the steps necessary for developing a mastery of that action. Also describe a skill you hope to master in your lifetime. Identify why that skill is important to you and how you can apply your experiences, Robert Greene’s MASTERY and other FDDS reading to achieve a mastery in that skill.

Growing up in Florida for most of my life, swimming was definitely a big part of my summers. I was on my local swim team from 1st grade until I graduated from high school - by that time I had moved up to be a junior and then assistant coach. I took a break from swimming for a while when I got to AU (the idea of using indoor pool still doesn’t quite feel right to me), but decided to pick it  up again this summer. I was worried the first time I went back to the pool that I was really going to have a hard time with my strokes - that I wasn’t as in good of shape as I had been when I was swimming before, and that my technique would be terrible. I was shocked, however, when I got in the water and everything I’d ever practiced seemed to come back to me - my body just knew what to do.

Back when I was first learning my strokes, I remember our coach giving us countless drills to help us master them, demanding that we focus on the smallest details to cut down our times - how you flicked your wrist at the end of the pull, how far apart your fingers were, how we breathed. I developed an awareness of how every piece of my body was moving, until eventually, I didn’t even have to think about doing the strokes. My body had developed a rhythm, and its stuck with me since. Now swimming is something that will always come as second nature, even if I’ve taken long breaks between practices.

With swimming, it definitely took a lot of repetition, persistence, and self-awareness in order to master the different strokes, and I had to immerse myself completely in the strokes before the correct motions became intuitive. I think that a lot of these same practices could be used to other master skills in my life, such as languages. After studying abroad in Brazil and beginning to learn Portuguese, it is a language I’d like to master during my lifetime. Languages are best learned through immersion, and while I don’t know if I’ll have the opportunity to spend that long of a period in Brazil again, I could make small changes to make sure that I’m in situations where I’m forced to speak Portuguese - making time to practice with my roommates from Brazil, watching Portuguese movies without subtitles, using Rosetta stone. I noticed after a few weeks in Brazil that I was able to say and understand certain phrases in Portuguese without having to think about every single word I was saying (or making sure that I wasn’t switching over to Spanish intuitively). The hardest part of learning a language for me is usually forcing myself to think in that language -  I think that if I continue to consistently practice, I can begin to speak more confidently and it will become intuitive.

By Falon Dominguez

Final Blog: Book Reviews

Making Connections

Outside of your formal education, how have you expanded your knowledge to related disciplines, giving your mind the fuel to make new associations between different ideas? How has it advanced your ability to examine a problem from all possible angles? How will your AU Education help you to become increasingly dimensional? Please explain using Robert Greene’s 3 steps to awaken the dimensional mind.

In Part V of Mastery, Robert Greene discusses his three steps to awakening the dimensional mind:

The first is to step is to redefine and accept different forms of creativity. He says that the way to mastery is to by “rejecting conservatism and becoming increasingly bold” and by letting our minds absorb information and make connections for us.

The second step is to allow ourselves to think about problems, situations, and projects from different perspectives. We should avoid putting information into the same categories we are familiar and comfortable with and instead embrace the unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

This will lead you to the third step - allowing the project to speak to you, pushing and pulling to get new information and answers until you reach a breakthrough. By looking at things from different perspectives and appreciating the value of different types of creativity and intelligence we are able to be as creative as possible.

Outside of my formal education, I’ve expanded my knowledge of different disciplines in several ways. The biggest way is probably reading - my mom made sure to pass along her love of reading to me by giving me all different types of books to read while I was growing up. Reading is great for expanding your knowledge because you can read so many different authors’ perspectives about the same topic and view the problem from different angles. FDDS has also helped to expand our knowledge through reading with our assigned reading and blogs.

In addition to books, being in DC while I’ve been in college has also helped me to enhance my formal education and expand my knowledge. It is almost guaranteed that some topic or current event I was just discussing in class is also being talked about somewhere in the city with different academics, government officials or non-profits. AU does do a good job of exposing us to many different subjects (as liberal arts schools should), but its great that I can go beyond the classroom into the city.

Finally, I’ve gained knowledge outside of my formal education through my work experience and internships. This allows me to take formal education to a new level - increasing my knowledge of subjects like economics with practical experience, and then also teaching me about different subjects formal education doesn’t cover - social/emotional intelligence, leadership, etc.

I use all of these methods to help expand my thinking, but I think the most important thing that has helped me to increase my perspective is keeping an open mind - by not rejecting ideas right away and giving them time, I’ve been able to reach new levels at school and work. Robert Greene is right - we shouldn’t be afraid of the uncertain or unfamiliar, because sometimes it is exactly the way to go if we want to learn more and become masters.

By Falon Dominguez

Mastery Blog: Are you coachable?

By Falon Dominguez

Knowing My Uniqueness

The First move towards mastery is always introspection. What makes you unique and how will your uniqueness, coupled with a formal education, prepare you for the ideal apprenticeship? Please share any necessary skills, creative challenges and best practices that you should master to become secure in your independence.

The beginning of the book Mastery by Robert Greene talks a lot about introspection, how we can use introspection for find out uniqueness, and then harnessing that uniqueness in order to achieve “mastery” in our perspective apprenticeships. As we’ve learned throughout our time in FDDS, introspection is always the best (and sometimes hardest) place to start — I’ve learned that really knowing yourself and your talents before you start something (like an internship or apprenticeship) will help you to excel and get the most out of the experience.

I think that I have several factors, which coupled with my formal education, gives me unique skills and perspectives. While it is not necessarily a skill, I do think that my diverse family background has helped me to shape a unique perspective - my parents come from completely different parts of the world, and from different economic backgrounds, and so they’ve taught me to look at the world from many different angles and to always consider different possibilities. I also think that I have enhanced this perspective through me international studies and sociology classes at American University, as well as traveling and studying abroad.  Growing up with engineers for parents has also helped me to look at problems logically and analytically, skills which I have continued to work on by taking on Economics as my second major. Aside from these, I’m also naturally focused, driven, and a fast learner - skills that I believe have helped me to quickly adapt to many different situations/jobs, and allow me to excel quickly in those situations.

My ideal apprenticeship would be one that pushes my limits and encourages me to stretch my thinking - some place that would want to take the skills that I already have and not only enhance them, but teach me to apply them in different ways. I’m always anxious to learn more, so I would want to work at an apprenticeship that would continue to help me grow. While I think that I already secure in my independence, I do think that being in this type of apprenticeship would ensure that I continue to learn, grow, and become even more confident in myself and my abilities.

by Falon Dominguez

by Falon Dominguez