Category Archives: Goal setting

Value of Yoga Poses to Interpreters


According to the Center for Disease Control, the leading causes of death in the U.S. are heart disease (24%) and cancer (23%), on account of improper breathing and faulty oxygenation that unbalances the blood so that toxins are not eliminated and the endocrine glands cease to function adequately. Interpreters in the U.S.A.  are within this population.

The chief endocrine glands are the adrenals, pineal, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, coccygeal, thymus, carotid, gonads, pancreas, liver and spleen.  Yoga exercises all of these glands, at a difference from standard western fitness regimens that affect muscle groups only. Many endocrine glands are also ductless glands, as they secrete the hormones they produce directly into the blood or lymph system so it will be circulated to the entire body. These hormones affect every physiological and psychological function of our bodies.  They control our growth, the structure of our body, height, weight and personality, determining our physical and mental activities, hence our jobs as interpreters, not to mention our personal lives.  They are the chief dynamos for brain power, vitality and youthfulness, and keep us fit to make a living and enjoy life fully. Furthermore, the manufacture and distribution of these hormones can be greatly affected by the mental state of the individuals concerned.  Since our work often causes a lot of stress because we deal in technical subjects and have to anticipate the words of specialists, among others,  in both simultaneous and consecutive modes, this stress  is bound to affect our mental state especially as we are often not able to prepare for these interventions.

Many of the poses tone up the nerve force in the spine to preserve flexibility which is often impaired when we sit in a booth all day or stand in a courtroom, or other environments  to work.  According to yoga, a man is never old if his spine is flexible.  Exercising for even 10 minutes a day helps to improve flexibility.

Much of the reference material on the effects of yoga cited herein was taken from the classic, Yoga and Long Life, by Yogi Gupta, available on Amazon Kindle.

For poses that act on specific parts of our anatomy, go here, and click on the part of your body that interests you.

Make learning these poses with a qualified teacher, one of your resolutions for the New Year.  It will be a positive life-changer!

Watch the following very short video (1:31) I put together, about The Lion Pose, which is specifically tailored for interpreters:

Lessons From My Brother; Similarities Between World Class Runners and Interpreters


Galen Rupp, Alberto Salazar, Mo Farah

The Summer Olympics were quite a show. They were especially exciting for our family as my brother, Alberto Salazar, made a splash when the coaching of his two runner protégés, Mo Farah and Galen Rupp, paid off, the former winning gold in both the 10K and the 5K and the latter silver in the 10K.  Their hard-earned triumph caused me to reflect on how the parallels between the training for the two endeavors theoretically dovetail to a remarkable degree.

Following Your Natural Aptitudes

If you want to be good at what you do, by default you should choose to engage in something that comes easily to avoid rowing against the current. If you stand out as a sprinter you will focus on shorter running events rather than long distance races.  As an interpreter, you may decide between becoming a specialist in legal terminology and working for the courts, becoming a medical interpreter, or switching gears every day interpreting at conferences on different subjects, depending on your intellectual predilections.

Selecting the Best Coach

Once you have made a choice, find the best coach you can in the area of expertise identified.  You may have to work with that person for a while to ensure that he is the right individual to mentor you.  Assuming that you click and your preferences are aligned, apply yourself and learn as much as you can.  Remember the axiom, “no pain, no gain”, but do not be afraid to switch if you are stagnating.

Simulation of the Optimal  Environment

My brother runs the “Oregon Project” for Nike which seeks to physically emulate the conditions in which top long-distance runners outside of the U.S. live, concentrating on factors such as climate, high altitude, oxygen levels, etc.  Alberto’s runners live in that replicated environment. Likewise, interpreters-in-training must immerse themselves to the extent possible, in the type of settings where they plan to work so that they have a realistic outlook of what it takes to achieve the skills needed to succeed.  This can be accomplished by shadowing other interpreters, going to court, medical settings or interning for a company that will allow you to attend conferences in some capacity as part of your training.

Practice; Where the Tire Hits the Road

There’s no cutting corners here.  This is what will determine your success or lack thereof and there are several components to it. You must be steadfast in your exercises.  You cannot expect to have satisfactory results from half-hearted attempts.  You must set aside the time to train and make sure you are employing the right techniques.  Watching replays is key both in the sports world as well as in the interpreting world. Thankfully, technology has advanced to a level where we can monitor the output of excellent interpreters through the internet and pick up invaluable pointers. It is also important to have the right mental attitude despite lulls in your enthusiasm, to do visualization as all athletes do, to use the right gear and have the right nutrition.  For interpreters, this is analogous to using the right equipment, be it dedicated glossaries, dictionaries, computers or simultaneous interpreting paraphernalia.  Otherwise, you are working at a disadvantage in comparison to colleagues that aim to be at the  top of their game.

A Man Is Known By the Company He Keeps

If you wish to improve in your chosen career, lift your spirits, and remain on track, associate with positive, like-minded people who enjoy what you do.  For the athlete as well as the interpreter, this means spending time with committed individuals that will support your goals be it through professional running clubs or interpreting associations that strive to develop the interests of their members through a forum that will benefit the collective in an efficient way that is difficult to attain individually.

Don’t Rest on Your Laurels

Lastly, never become complacent.  Always be on the lookout to see how you might expand your skill set and help others. I am inspired by my sibling who won three consecutive New York Marathons and a Boston Marathon in the 1980s .  The Rookie, as he was called, predicted and set a world record in the marathon in 1981.  He followed that up, fourteen years later, with a win at the Comrades Ultramarathon (56 miles) in South Africa. Presently he devotes himself to sharing his accumulated expertise with today’s up and coming athletes, leading them to victory.

As interpreters, we have many options available to follow suit, from improving our own competence, to providing support and assistance to those colleagues interested in our help.  Pitch in and become involved, there’s a lot to be said for giving vs. receiving!

 

Three Exotic Assignments at Venues With Different Ethnic Cultures

How Goal Setting Compares to Mountain Climbing


My mountain climbing experience, while limited, includes an excursion on the beautiful Inca Trail, in Peru.  There are many allegorical parallels between mountain climbing and goal setting which I’d like to discuss.

Adapt to your environment

Upon reaching the summit, as with any goal, you can expect to feel a great sense of achievement, but on the way toward your goal you will certainly encounter obstacles. On the Inca trail I had altitude sickness, but following instructions, I became accustomed to the scarce oxygen and at daybreak was able to enjoy seeing the breathtaking Sun Gate, offering spectacular views of Machu Picchu, our  goal on the climb.

Fortunately, by the time you make it to the top either in mountain climbing or through one of  life’s lessons, you have usually acquired the equanimity to calmly enjoy your surroundings, plus a quiver of tools that  allow you to overcome difficulties. Along the way, you start understanding your new environment.  Once you reach your goal, the problems may not have changed, but you will have. You will be better equipped to understand them, deal with them and experience the unique transformations that can only come after a journey.  In many cases, as you develop, your vision changes.  You mature as you assimilate lessons. Your arsenal is fortified, though perhaps not in the way you anticipated.

As the old Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” To reach the top, one must first visualize how to get there.  At ground level, perspective is not the same as at the summit, where you have a bird’s eye view of the topography. At first, it may seem that the climb is through an impenetrable jungle but as you climb methodically,  you are better able to pick your paths.  The view improves as you gain altitude and the trees start to thin out. The winning combination is knowing what you want and which of your personal values support your goals.

Have faith

In any project, have faith that you can accomplish whatever you can imagine. Start taking baby steps to implement that vision. That you can imagine the result is an indication that you have the necessary resources to go forward. There is no greater deterrent to fulfilling goals than inertia or fear of failure, which keeps one from taking action, as when, for example, a person decides not to follow his dream of becoming an accomplished musician because of the practice, auditions and competitions that are part of the journey.

In practice however, everything sorts itself out gradually and the more ground one covers, the more prepared one is to overcome once seemingly insurmountable odds.  Once you mindfully begin the ascent, hitherto unseen opportunities open along your path and hasten progress.

I am reminded of when I made the commitment to go back to school for an MBA  at the age of 56.  It had been over 30 years since I had been a student.  I had a phobia about the level of math skills I would need. I had tried to go back to school before and had had to drop out for lack of time. I was fully engaged in running my language services company on a day-to-day basis, and the economy was in the midst of a recession. We were working twice as hard for less profit. It seemed impossible, yet one step at a time, I submitted the paperwork, attended orientations, took online courses and hired a tutor to supplement my finance and accounting skills. I found an executive program that met on Saturdays so I could continue to work. I focused on putting my best foot forward and was persistent in my efforts to do well.

Be tenacious

I was the eldest student in the class and at the end of two years was voted most outstanding by the faculty.  It all happened because I sustained my vision of getting the degree and applied personal values such as sense of responsibility, appetite for problem-solving and love of knowledge.    It was a taxing but rewarding experience which has stood me in good stead. Yet it would not have happened if I had not confidently started the climb and stuck it out. The experience led me to corroborate that one can achieve whatever one can visualize. Since then, I have gone on to fulfill other personal and business goals once considered farfetched, like offering  interpreting services around the globe, being a guest lecturer, writing articles regularly for several publications, getting an advanced scuba diver certification, and teaching yoga.

My brother, Alberto Salazar, a world-class marathoner in the 1980’s, relates similar experiences in striving toward significant goals.  While only in his twenties he tallied major victories at the New York and Boston marathons. He visualized himself winning, held that image, trained and learned from the experts. During each   race, he would just concentrate on placing one foot in front of the other, until he crossed the finish line.  I remember visiting him after he set a world record at the NY Marathon in 1981.  He was lying in bed in a suite at the St. Regis, enthusiastically chatting with the family, when I noticed the bed sheets around his feet were all bloodied.  He explained matter-of-factly that he had lost several toenails in the process.

Here, then, is one of the many lessons to be learned: always be  prepared to put some skin in the game if you consider the result  worthwhile.

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