Training With Furlough

A few months ago I was put on furlough. It was quite a shock because I’ve never found myself in that sort of position. I wasn't even sure what it meant, but it felt bad.

For a few days I sat wondering, “Why?”

As in why me? Why was I put on the bench? I’ll admit to you that it was a draining experience. I had low energy for a time. In that dark moment I remembered my training, adjusted my attitude, and changed my question.

I started asking “How?”

How might I use my time wisely to get stronger, smarter, and better?

Bring the Energy and Stay Sharp

An athlete that’s not racing still needs to train. They need to stay ready at a highly competitive level so that when they’re called up to the starting line they’re ready to get involved.

How might I do the same as a technologist? What does training look like for a brain worker?

How was I going to mentally prepare to be more ready for my next opportunity? Let me tell you, it wasn’t exactly easy, but it wasn’t complicated either. I started writing a long todo list. I discovered there’s a multitude of ways for people like me to get better.

Discover, Build, Ship

In those two months of furlough I leveraged all the resources we have available on the Internet. This is what I delivered:

  • Intro to Coding a Webpage. I wrote a new hour-long presentation, code samples, an article, and presented all of that streaming on FaceBook Live. It was a little sweaty to start, but I got comfortable as I spoke and figured out the Facebook Live UX. My goal was introducing to my fellow furloughed colleagues how programmers code web pages with HTML and CSS.
  • Augmented Reality: Toy Today, Tool Tomorrow. I had an opportunity to deliver my most recent conference talk on Augmented Reality to an interested professional group. A fantastic host, engaged crowd, and a subject that I greatly enjoy!
  • I launched a web-service. Simple as it was I learned how to write NodeJS to make an AWS Lambda function. Then I wrapped it with the AWS API Gateway system to complete my rookie API. #Cloud. #Severless. #DevOps. Bam!
  • I leveraged Jekyll. An open-source tool for creating and maintaining HTML markup producing static websites.
  • I took a deep-dive into CSS Grid to lock-in my understanding of how it offers precise control for modern page layout.
  • I learned AWS CloudFront to distribute my websites stored on S3 more quickly to the outer edges of the Internet.
  • I used AWS Certificate Manager to ensure my websites were backed by SSL and HTTPS to help guarantee security.
  • I shipped - a metasearch for job seekers.
  • I coded - personal professional portfolio site.
  • I built - my blog and landing site.
  • I wrote six blog articles for a total of 3250 words.
  • I created an infographic and carousel preso to practice my design skills in Sketch.
  • I shared what I knew with some people who asked me to help them in ways they needed.
  • I strengthened important personal connections with friends and colleagues I missed.
  • I read three books.
  • I rolled out 500+ miles on my bike.
A bike rider in mountain range

Brain Performance Tuning

Two months of self-directed work was good for me because I helped some folks, learned new concepts, earned experience, and dialed-in crucial skills. All of this training kept me sharp. I could have easily gone idle but instead I strived to maintain the high level of performance I expect of myself.

Ultimately, I’m happy to report that now I’m a little less useless than I was before!

I honestly hope I have a chance to put this knowledge to good use in the service of the people around me. If you read anything on that list above that you want to know more about - just ask. I’ll gladly figure out a way to share with you what I’ve learned.

Good News

At the start of July I’ve been called back to work and glad to be there! Travel is an important freedom and I’m proud to be a part of a company that powers the industry.

People want to take vacations and make memories of a lifetime. People want to grow their business visiting customers and partners. Moving around the world is a key part of modern life.

I’m more committed than ever before to helping travelers do what they enjoy.

The Most Amazing Choice is Inside of You

I started asking “Why” in reaction to some bad news. It’s a natural human response. I could have turned very negative, very quickly, and buried myself in a right proper little pit of misery and suffering.

I’m fortunate because some very smart people have coached me over the years. I'm reminded by their lessons that I have a choice, my choice matters, and that I should make good choices.

Changing my question to “How” was a fantastic choice for me! How might I take advantage of this utterly unique moment of time and make myself better?

Be More Awesome!

I hope you have a choice in the matter of making your life better. Professionally, and personally.

If you can write down a goal to aim for, and practice every day on the things you know that you should do, you’ll get better. I absolutely believe that.

There’s no upper limit to how much more awesome you can be!

One More Thing

The more I said the word “Furlough” the more I thought it sounded like a monster in Nintendo’s famous video game, Pokemon.

Drawing of a funny looking character

That’s the inspiration behind my sketch! 😉

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