josh sapienza

Continuing Education: The Romantic Nature of Learning

 

"Art is everywhere, except it has to pass through a creative mind."

-Louise Nevelson

 

There is artistry in education. The appreciation of its design depends largely on one’s ability to contemplate the beauty of its magnificent impact with moral imagination.  If you take the time to step back and deconstruct the material world, educational lessons are revealed in its design. This is the cornerstone of Montessori . Facilitating an understanding of the world by developing a core of knowledge based on experiencing its physical properties (AKA: Tactile Learning). The more comprehensive these experiences are... the deeper one's understanding of the world may become.

Lasting impressions of the physical world create reference points for not only our creativity and imagination but for the development of our vocabulary and the most basic means of communication as well.

In the book "Thought In The Act", Erin Manning + Brian Massumi describe life experience as: "...the intangible." I interpret this to mean that one can only imagine the intangible and our imaginations are the creative applications of mental associations we make with our physical understandings of the world. The breadth of one's learning can therefore directly impact the extent to which one experiences life and can imagine. This is the mindset from which we attempt to re-discover and re-define the world with, and for, our daughter.

"I would like to recapture that freshness of vision which is characteristic of extreme youth when all the world is new to it."
-Henri Matisse

My wife and I are driven to give our daughter a life filled with as much joy as possible (without being detrimental) while empowering her to make a positive contribution to the world and leave it in a better condition than the one in which it is presented to her. Whether or not she elects to take on such a noble pursuit will be up to her…but we at least want her to be possessed with the requisite awareness in order to give her a better shot at it if she tries. We believe that the attainment of this awareness is made easier if we adopt a Montessorial approach to our introduction to the world (meaning: deconstructing everything to its most basic physical components, qualities and relationships in order to promote an appreciation of both individual components and their relationships within various contexts as well). Employing this method of modeling (and thus parenting) has been very much like arranging a marriage between Socratic Questioning and the slow motion filming techniques that transform amazing feats of wildlife like the flight mechanics of a bird's wing, into what the BBC calls "...full scale events, and simple action into incredibly detailed video sequences." The results are impossible to imagine let alone perceive with the naked eye. When a sequence filmed at a high frame rate (fps) is played back in normal time (24fps), the action appears to slow down. As camera technology improves, ultra high-speed footage of over 1,000fps produces ever more astonishing images. Hidden secrets are revealed, new science is discovered and tiny subtleties in animal behaviour become perceptible.".

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see."
-Edgar Degas

On Grocery Shopping:
As parents we often worry more about our children's happiness than our own...and some of us can imagine the smallest amount of potential suffering (even boredom) having lasting detrimental effects to their overall emotional well-being. It sounds crazy... and that's mostly because, well...it is.

After being blessed with a seemingly perpetual sidekick, I suddenly began viewing one of my favorite things in the world: grocery shopping, as a boring chore for our little one and more of a "necessary evil" than anything. I went to great lengths in order to minimize our time in any market and thus mitigate, what I had perceived to be, my daughters suffering.

My weekly mission was to make grocery shopping as fast and as painless as possible. To enter and to leave with military precision. I was a Supermarket S.E.A.L.  and the strike zone encompassed every square inch from the parking lot to the pastry case. As such, it required utilizing my strategic operations experience to develop shopping lists that would direct our travel path from paper products and laundry supplies to dairy and frozen foods (which...to me, is still the most efficient travel path through a grocery store.)

Once I considered the fact that my general stress level was likely being transmitted at some level to my daughter, I took a step back and looked at this mundane chore of gathering stuff with my Montessorial monocle. After doing so, I was able to recognize educational opportunities existing everywhere! It didn't take long to start enjoying the lessons that every isle and every purchase offered.  I think I, like so many other people, shop as they drive. One with the cart. Operating it with a sort of tunnel vision. Half-blind to the other people in the store in that- I saw them mostly as slow moving obstacles in my path to hunting, gathering and surgically extracting a list of items amid a course made from thousands of bar coded goods. The fact that there are so many different products & foodstuffs in a myriad of: colors, textures, shapes and sizes alone...combined with the wide range of pricing makes for an exceptional environment full of physical stimulus there for the taking!  Add to this the potential multitude of non-verbal lessons in social psychology once one begins navigating with others as opposed to through them. Explaining that pictures don't necessarily match what's in the box or naming an animal that eats a particular food...even the act of writing then reading a shopping list together and checking off the items holds a wealth of practical modeling applications.

New and exciting games emerge when a scale is viewed as an educational toy instead of a tool for commerce. Guessing how many units or "pounds" of bananas we want and then showing my three year old just how many bananas her guess of 7 pounds actually equates to…and feels in her arms....can be hilarious! And physically comprehending the difference between a 1lb bag of rice in her lap vs. a 10lb pound bag in her lap is just one of the countless physical comparisons that make long lasting impressions while eliciting a heart-warming amount of laughter.

This is enjoyable education. It's fun. it's free. And it forms the basis of enjoying physical connections with the world and learning from them. The food market has now become not only less stressful for me... but actually much more enjoyable than it ever was.  Seeing how much five of something costs compared to how much ten of the same thing costs can be a real lesson in both mathematics as well as economics.

There is no single word, equivalent to literacy or numeracy, that expresses wrighting and wroughting (that is the ability to make – as in wheelwright, shipwright, cartwright). In late 18th and early 19th century the role of schools in preparing children to work in manufacturing industry would have been seen to have had a greater vocational and economic relevance than it would today.

-Brian Stevens: The Three Rs and The Education Journal #307


We never refer to “shopping” as math or economics or physics or psychology... just as we don't refer to other skill sets such as addition or penmanship in the Montessori classroom as such. We focus on the romantic nature of letters and numbers and what they physically mean so that we can draw them, hold them, trace them, count and separate them, etc... This sensual connection between touch and concept is what I view as romantic. Using the traditional names for foundations of basic skill-oriented educational programs may more readily prepare children for the references they will encounter in later years but it takes all the fun out of learning today. It makes these experiences seem more like work and less like play. It takes the romance, the magic and the imagination out of her world.

"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance."
-Aristotle

Viewing the world from a Montessorial perspective is making every place and every thing seem more meaningful than its obvious context. More valuable than the sum of its parts. More...interconnected.
In my earlier post "Circle Back" I discussed the interconnections that exist between the business world and the natural world. These are the kinds of relationships I am now just seeing for the first time and the vision of the world I want to impart to my child. Seeing the inter-connectedness of all things may sound like a spiritual or religious pursuit for us but it is not. For my wife and me... it is much simpler than that. Our hope is that by embracing the romantic nature of learning she will derive immense fulfillment from discovery and understand more about the world and herself than traditional extrinsic "teaching" alone can impart.  

Right now, my wife and I only want to develop a polite and gentle person who is socially adept and enjoys learning. We have no interest in rushing to amass within her any specific quantity or mass of knowledge nor do we want her to achieve any prescribed level of learning above or beyond what she naturally achieves through self-interest and gentle guidance.  This is why we made the choice to send her to a Montessori School and why, every day, we are grateful for discovering Baan Dek Montessori in Sioux Falls. There are so many stresses that we face as adults in life. Right now we want her to be a child and enjoy her childhood. The artisan educators at Baan Dek seem to direct their students with an understanding that there is greater value in mitigating pressure for children than preparing them to handle it...and we like that.

"Play is The Work of The Child" - Maria Montessori

For the last three years, I have walked with our daughter to the top of at least a dozen water slides...and every climb resulted in uncertainty and fear. Although I would consistently assure her that it would be "ok" and "so much fun!" (While pointing out the other children her age and those younger who we're enjoying it) She always decided to walk back down instead...until this past week at a resort in Phoenix Arizona. When she decided she was "going to be brave” and “ought to give it a try." As a result, I witnessed a mirth of her own accord. Unmistakably derived not only from the thrill of the ride, but also from the pride in realizing that her own hunger for joy was the motivation that elicited courage.

Children develop at different rates... but when placed in healthy environments with exposure to diversity of company and a myriad of disciplines, all children eventually reach their intellectual potential with or without our constant intervention.The difference between racing to that potential vs. allowing a child to arrive at it at their own pace and through a romantic discovery is that the later seems to breed a deeper joy and self-confidence through an appreciation of the journey as well as the destination.

Dynastic Trust: Advice to The Women My Daughter and Niece Will Someday Be.

2013-09-21 13.49.54.jpg

1. Use your advantage to help others instead of hurt them. Other than in sporting... Never do anything that puts others at a disadvantage.

2. In matters of great importance, the best response is offered after emotion and suspicion yield to reason and logic. Wait one day to respond to anything that makes your face hot.

3. Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Give Up. The fear of falling is often more debilitating than the fall itself. It is in falling that we realize our resilience.

4. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It shows you recognize the importance of a task.

5. Sometimes doing nothing is a lot...but when you move, move with purpose.

6. Full Hands In. Full Hands Out.

7. Just tell the truth & never put a price on your principles.

8. Do more than the minimum. 

9. Ski, Surf, Walk, Drive, Ride, Fly & Live in a predictable fashion whenever there are others behind or around you.

10. If you think you can, you will. If you think you can't, you won't.

11. The most Important things you will ever say: "After you", "Please", "Thank You", "I Love You" and "I'm Sorry".

12. Go to bed early. You will accomplish more before others wake than you will after they've gone to sleep.

13. Never drink more than one cocktail with subordinates or superiors. 

14. Dissenting opinions and unpleasant news should only be voiced if some significant good can come of it. Displaying one's level of intelligence or social connectivity does not constitute a "significant good".

15. Those who control others are strong. Those who control themselves are powerful...and more attractive. 

16. It's better to be wrong and alive, then right and dead.

17. Stand back when waiting for an elevator or when someone is exiting a room. If you give people enough space to exit first, there'll be more room for you to enter afterwards.   

18. Never write, text, email or post anything on-line that you wouldn't want to air as a commercial during the Super Bowl.

19. The power in hate, greed, negativity and jealousy is in it's ability to distract you. Don't let it. Never lower yourself to the level of those who thrive on such things. They say misery loves company...and there will always be people who are stressed, overwhelmed and/or unhappy with themselves. Never let them influence your opinion of yourself....because they will definitely try. And be as kind to them as possible. Not because they deserve it but because you are kind.

20. All the world's ills (other than those resulting from chemical or psychological imbalance) can be traced back to poor parenting and/or poor education. Never stop learning! 

21. A person's character is not so easily measured in times of comfort and advantage. The more accurate measure of one's character is taken in the most threatening of times... when weakness is most likely to triumph. Even then, character is not found in one's faults or folly but in the methods and sincerity with which they redeem themselves...and those they've failed.

22. Great intelligence demands even greater patience. 

23. Drugs are a distraction from: doing what truly makes your heart happiest, discovering the most beauty that life has to offer and knowing what day it is...additionally, they make bad ideas seem like decent ones. 

24. Listen carefully. There's a difference between being quiet while waiting for your turn to speak and being quiet in order to hear and consider what someone else is saying. The former requires you to simply close your mouth. The latter requires you to open your mind.

25. When no rule exists, do the right thing. There's always an opportunity / It's never too late to do the right thing.

26. Never buy a house: at the bottom of a hill, near a body of water, with a flat roof or quickly built.

27. There's nothing worse than a bully. Stand up for yourself... and those who can not stand up for themselves.

"The greatest sin that could be committed is the abuse of power. Whether it's mental, physical or economic." - Joe Biden

28. Sustained actions speak louder than words.

29. Never underestimate anyone...especially yourself.

30. In life, there will always be positives and there will always be negatives. Your attitude is driven by which you choose to focus on each and every day. It’s not what happens to you that matters; it’s how you choose to respond. (Read "The Road Less Traveled".)

31. Everything is relative. Everyone's perspective is their reality. 

32. Never recline a seat in coach or fart in an elevator if you can help it. Both may provide some relief but it's usually at the expense of another.

33. Everything is on it's way somewhere. Nothing "goes away" and nothing can be "thrown away".

34. Quality work is expensive. Cheap work costs even more.

35. Be mindful of the ease with which an unintended tone can be imparted to the written word of another. Read "The 5 Minute Manager".

36. Mistakes and inconsistencies are where the natural beauty lies. There is no such thing as "perfect" and there is no such thing as "right" or "wrong" in art.

36. The Platinum Rule: Treat Others as They Want To Be Treated.

37. Nothing great is ever accomplished alone.

38. You can teach most anyone a skill... but you can't teach anyone personality and character.

39. Make time to be still and quiet in nature...then dance in the rain and let yourself get soaked! It's good for the soul.

40. If you're having a problem with a person or situation, look at your own behavior first...and then look at your own behavior again.

41. Treat every one & every place like a campsite... Leave them a little better than how you found them.

42. Exercise is the ultimate antidepressant...and greatest tailor. 

43. When facing any catastrophe, ask yourself: "How much will this matter in 20 years?".

44. Collaborate with people from all different walks of life. The cross-pollination between passionate people from various disciplines enables real innovation to flourish.

45. Be Kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle... hidden or not. 

46. Boys will break your heart (especially when you forget how wonderful your are). Let them. Learn from it.

47. Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer allows you to grow.

48. Stop calling him. Stop texting him. Stop saying things you hope he will hear. If he wanted you, and deserved you...he'd be there.

49. Bellybutton piercings and tattoos are always bad ideas. Self-acceptance is the coolest accessory.

50. Life begins where your comfort zone ends. Be carefree...but don't be careless.

51. Seeing the good in something and building on it is usually more productive than seeing the bad and trying to fix it.

52. You don't have to practice law but you should study law for the sake of your freedom...as both lawyers and judges are human.

53. You will find that some laws are only elucidated once the enforcement of them serves the interest of one (or few) who profit by their application.

54. It's far easier for some to believe a lie that supports one's prejudice and resentment than to maintain an open mind while seeking the truth.

55. You are bound to find some discontent in your life. Don't let that discontent form your opinions, design  your truth or decide your happiness...for hatred, injustice and the absence of peace in the world begins with the prejudice discovered upon projecting self depreciation onto others. 

56. Time doesn't heal all wounds...but it does allow for more experiences which, in turn, yield a different perspective.

57. Don't let anyone define your self-worth...not even him.

58. Trust your instincts.

59. Most people let down their guard after 6 months...if they ever had it up.

60. Be grateful & love with everything you've got as I and your Mom love you. No matter what... forever and beyond. 

61. READ THE DIRECTIONS.

62. Study Immanuel Kant’s Moral Philosophy namely… Categorical and Hypothetical Imperatives & The Formula of the Universal Law of Nature.

63.  Listen to The Beatles. There's a lot of wisdom in their simple lyrics and they can be a good "home away from home".

64. Do everything to the best of your ability with the time allotted.

65. Sing out loud.

66. Seeing the good and building on it is always more productive than seeing the bad and trying to change it.

67. In life, you will encounter plenty of "sharks". When you do, summon up all of your strength and punch it in the snout. It will most likely turn and swim away.

68. Always consider the source of the information you receive and the source of the food you eat. Your interests may not be aligned nor your motivations.

69. Resist the notion that there is more hate in the world than love. Although some may profit by magnifying it or by drawing your attention to it - it simply isn't true.

70. Go for the job that offers the best culture and most fulfillment.

71. AIM TO SAVE 30% SPEND 60% & SHARE 10%.

72. Clean tools work better.

73. The best ideas come from wide exposure.

74. "Travel is fatal to ignorance and prejudice" - Mark Twain

75. The best ideas come from great exposure.

76. AIM TO SAVE 30% SPEND 60% & SHARE 10%...and consider an index fund.

77. Decisions, based on a longview approach that considers ancillary impacts, take time.

78. If you can't find something - try straightening up.

79. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed from one form to another... we don't die just because our bodies do. 

 

 

 

System Recovery: Backup In 10 Days after a Tonsilectomy

A tonsilectomy is like the execution of an intelligently designed performance- based contingency. It's painful for everyone involved but if they're not meeting performance requirements, they have to go.

In our case, it was close to 10 days of pain until we were back on our feet. It would have been 9 but a ridiculously cold day (-20 degrees) resulted in school closings throughout South Dakota and afforded us an extra day to recharge.

Although most days were spent getting enough fluids down (water, apple juice and chocolate milk) while watching every episode of Scooby Doo & Peg + Cat ever created... the following is an overview of her daily post-op progression highlights:

 

Day 0: Nervous but brave going in. Disphoria and pain waking up. Plesant and cheerful at home.

ATE: Buttery And Fluffy Scrambled Eggs, Buttered Hawaiian Sweet Roll
And Apple Juice

Quote of the day: "I don't like any of this! I don't like one bit of this at all and I want to go home!!!"- upon waking from surgery.

 

Day 1: Antsy from medication and inactivity. Apparently unaffected otherwise. Playing independently.

ATE: Buttered Noodles, Fluffy Pancakes and Fudge Pop

Quote: "I don't want to eat ANYTHING!"

 

Day 2: Antsy and A bit overemotional / easily frustrated. Clearly masking discomfort. Bored

Quote:  "...but I'm not a very big fan if ice cream because it makes my mouth so cold."

ATE: Fudge Pop and Buttered Noodles with Chix Broth few slices of Pear.

 

Day 3: Calm and Cuddly with random bursts of energy presumably resulting from boredom.

Quote: "They say on television that children love flashlights and they love stuffed animals...so they really love flashlight friends! I love my new flash.light friend so much I have to hug her a lot!"

ATE: Buttered Noodles, Pancake and Fudge Pop and Marshmallows

 

Day 4: Fairly normal but bursts of energy continue to mix with apparent drowsiness from medication.

Quote: "I feel like I was eating an apple and swallowed it whole without even chewing it up."

ATE: Nutella Crepe, Mozzarella Cheese and Fuffy Pancake

 

Day 4.5: Skipped a dose of Lortab in middle of the night to tfy and let her sleep through. Bad idea.

 

Day 5: Irritable and uncomfortable. Needed a lot if attention and TLC = cuddling.

ATE: Nutella and Sunbutter Crepe and Buttered Noodles with Chicken Broth and Grated Cheese

Quote: "Its nice to be out of the house. I havent been out if the house in a year!"

 

Day 6: Doing very well. Feeling well.Comfortable but bored. Seems like her old self.
Fluffy & Light Grilled cheese on Thick slices Kings Hawaiian Sweet Round Bread, Mac n Cheese, PEZ,

ATE: Buttered Noodles and Chix Broth and Pirate Booty and Gum.

Quote: "I want someone to color with me!"

 

Day 7: In great spirits. Happy and Full of Energy.

ATE: Fluffy Pancakes and PEZ.

Quote: "I feel perfect!"

 

DAY 8: Tired and difficult breaking out of the routine of sleeping in late cuddling and being naked. Voice changing: Sounding a lot like a miniature Kristen Chenoweth...or a cute Yeardley Smith (AKA Putter from Legend of Billy Jean)

ATE: Pancakes, Ham and Cheese, broccoli, boiled honied baby carrots, avocado, apple slices and salmon nuggets.

Quote: "My throat hurts just a little when I yawn."

Staying Afloat: Never Turn Your Back on The Essentials

2013-09-16 15.54.32.jpg

 

"The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately, in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence..."'

-Although merely the comedy of Oscar Wilde, this line has lately been extremely evocative, for me, of our Department of Education's inertia in light of positive findings in Montessori research:

http://www.montessori.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=422:montessori-rese..

http://montessoricompass.com/blog/new-research-collaboration-provides-big-opportunity-for-montessori

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500368_162-2050676.html

…and our many states’ recent retreat from potential recovery -in the face of pending sequestration which will likely result in extremely damaging federal cuts to education. 

Michael Sargeant’s (Huffington Post) article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-sargeant/north-carolina-education-cuts_b_3785414.html  discusses the efforts by North Carolina's GOP to create new private school vouchers called: "opportunity scholarships". This.$90MM taxpayer contribution drains $500MM out of the public education system sans accountability.

Cuts like these to education budgets (USA TODAY) in order to offset economic shortfalls is like watering the lawn when the roof is on fire:

Read More:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/09/25/7-states-slashing-education-spending/2866529/

I'm reminded of wisdom regarding downsizing in the business world:

"If a firm is able to concentrate it's expenses around the capabilities that make a real difference in terms of winning in the market then great things happen...then they are able to invest in the areas that cause them to thrive and to grow....people, processes and expertise that allow them to out-execute competition" 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8w_aXu2izI

Cesare Mainardi, Managing Director, Booz & Company, How executives should cut costs but often dont.

 

 

 

 

 

Circle Back: Valuable Lessons in Getting Back to Nature

A Montessorial approach to nature, in which the interconnectedness of simple structures is considered, can deepen an understanding and appreciation of many more seemingly complex principles and/or operations within a multitude of fields from business to medicine.

I saw a program on NOVA the other night, the topic of which was "Nanoarchitecture" and it was fascinating to learn that when you reduced the size of a gold particle (to the size of nanometers) you get completely different optical properties. Gold is no longer "gold" in color when taken to the 13 nanometer size. It's ruby red in color. 

 

"...when a particle of gold is made very small...below 100 nanometers, the smaller the particle, the more it begins to absorb shorter wavelengths of light. Toward the blue end of the spectrum..and the redder it appears. When light rays hit a colored material some rays are absorbed and some are reflected."

-Chad Merkin and David  Pogue Nova Series "Making Things Smaller"

The series also discussed "Structural Color...(as found in the iridescence of butterfly wings, beetle shells and peacock feathers). "Once you discover those new properties of nanoparticles, it almost always leads to new applications." Once such application is a new process of sequencing DNA / testing for genetic variations which is capable of being completed in less than 2hrs. One of the experiments which led to this DNA testing breakthough was one in which equal amounts but different shapes of silver nanoparticles were dissolved in vials of water. Different colored liquids were created based solely on the shape of those silver particles. Silver rods turned the water yellow, silver triangles turned the water green and silver prisms turned the water blue. These newly discovered reactions of nanoparticles were used to help develop the test that enables chromosomal abnormalities to be highlighted upon addition of similarly altered nanoparticles to a DNA sample.

There is tremendous value when a parent or business owner is reminded, through a Montessorial observation of the natural world, that visually observed characteristics of things (or people) can be variables depending on applied forces and independent perspectives...and that those observed characteristics don't necessarily dictate substance. Not only does this promote a wider-view perspective but it also reinforces the value in seeking possible factors outside of one's initial consideration. 

If you pause long enough to take a much broader view of your child's development or of your business' operations, you may be fortunate enough to recognize that the natural world and the business world are inexorably bound due to the fact that we ourselves, regardless of how technical our tools or how complex our lives, are merely components born of and operating within the same kingdom as the elephant and the honeybee.

 

After a small amount of research, I quickly learned that applying holistic and systemic approaches to business, social or educational organizations based on principles in nature is not, by any stretch, new thinking... but has certainly been gaining more traction over the last few years.

Business Reinvention with Nancy Lin discusses the fact that scientists and technologists are uncovering innovative ideas and borrow efficient designs from nature. She answers the question: “Does nature offer leadership lessons that can help us manage the increasing level of uncertainty, speed of change and limited resources to achieve such business transformation?" in her January 6th interview with the Denise DeLuca, co-founder and director of BCI, Biomimicry for Creative Innovation.

honeycomb.jpg

 

Alan Moore, author of No Straight Lines discusses the fact that a non-linear world is one in which we embrace the power and potential of complexity rather than trying to break it down into unconnected bits and that we see the world systemically. A non-linear world is where we have the capacity and the tools (which already exist) to transform our organizations commercially and non-commercially to work with the grain of human nature not against it that run leaner, more efficiently, and are greener. 

Giles Hutchins’ blog, The Nature of Business (one of my newest favorites) is exploring similar understandings of the interconnectedness of all things in nature and writes:

"Knowledge of the core principles of how life works becomes a critical skill for business leaders and change agents wishing to successfully transform their organizations in these volatile times.  It is what  BCI (Biomimicry for Creative Innovation) calls ‘ecological thinking for radical transformation'."

book.jpg

 

Most people in business subscribe to an outdated worldview, a perception of reality inadequate for dealing with the volatile and globally interconnected business world.  What is required for the health and vitality of our businesses and economies is a radical shift in our perceptions, our thinking and our business behavior.  We are witnessing a change in the business paradigm from one suited for the industrial era to one suited for the interconnected era.

At the core of this paradigm shift is a perception shift from ‘seperatedness’ to ‘interconnectedness’.

Just as in science we have discovered that no longer can the universe be viewed as a machine composed of elementary building blocks, so too must we avoid the propensity to view organizations as atomized, silo’ed and tightly managed machines more then we need view them as vibrant, living organisms interacting within emergent, self-regulating and self-organizing business ecosystems."

 

  "Evolution is no longer seen as a competitive struggle for existence, but rather as a ‘cooperative dance in which creativity and the constant emergence of novelty are the driving forces"

-Fritjof Capra / Founding Director / The Centre for Ecoliteracy.

 

Ditto for business evolution and so business people need to shift perceptions from "...seeing isolated, competing aspects of the business environment to seeing the interconnected and emergent nature of the business reality ahead.”

And finally, Fortune Magazine’s Jennifer Alserver significantly contributed to this concept back in her March 2013 article titled “8 Lessons from the Birds and the Bees”:

“The burgeoning field of biomimicry, in which scientists copy nature to solve human problems, has drawn interest across industries -- from energy to consumer goods. 'There is a whole pipeline of people inventing by looking to the natural world', says Janine Benyus, founder of Biomimicry 3.8, a consultancy that has helped Colgate-Palmolive (CLFortune 500), Levis, Nike (NKEFortune 500) and Boeing (BAFortune 500) reformulate products using biomimicry  “.

 

Nicholas Sykes' TED X talk: - Biomimicry 2.0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKQvr-RJQeg&noredirect=1


I continue to discover new and exciting aspects of my business since adopting a more Montessorial perspective on any business venture. 



2013-08-20 15.43.20.jpg

Non-Disclosure: Learning When to Keep My Mouth Shut

Made my wife cry.jpg

I made my wife cry last night.

I told her something I should’ve kept to myself. Which is one of the re-curing mistakes I make but when you marry your best friend and lover…you sometimes forget she’s not that much like you.

Before I dropped Catherine off at school today, she sweetly asked me if I would buy her some new mittens. I replied: “Of course sweetheart! What color would you like?” “Purple” she replied. I suggested that we could go to a store filled with hats, coats and gloves to see if we could find a pair of purple mittens. She whispered “Thank you Daddy” into my ear and then kissed me on the nose.

When I picked her up seven hours later, it finally occurred to me that she was asking me for new mittens because I had been sending her to school (and a 1hr outdoor recess) for the last three days without any gloves or mittens in 30 degree weather. My heart was split open with guilt, sadness and sorrow.

Gotta work on that jalopy of a filter I have...

  

Good to Great: Moving from East Coast to Midwest

Good To Great.jpg

My wife brought home a refrigerator magnet one day that read: ”Life begins where your comfort zone ends.”…and so life is certainly about to "begin".

After a lot of careful consideration, lengthy discussion and exhaustive research we decided to sell our dream home in Pennsylvania and move to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The plan is to pack up the contents of our house in the next few weeks (making most of the headway while my wife takes Catherine to see her sick Grandpa in Tampa next week) and store everything neatly in the back basement.

We will list the house just in time to hit the tail end of the summer market with hopes that it will be an attractive situation for someone looking to move into the area before the school year starts in September. We will be shipping my wife’s car and drive my Suburban with one week’s worth of supplies in our (just purchased) Thule Atlantis 1800 (Sonic XL) rooftop carrier, along with a 2yr old and a 125lb Newfoundland... should be interesting to say the least. Below is my navigational chart which is an example of how over-thinking and over-planning allays most anxiety for me. It took quite a bit of time to determine the best times to travel, how long to travel and where to stop based on a myriad of variables including everything from nap times to doggy’s potty breaks and anti-anxiety meds (the dog’s). I learned a lot in my 1 week intensive course in trip planning…like the fact that zoo keepers and vets most often move animals under cloak of darkness when possible to avoid additional visual stimulus and potential anxiety / motion sickness…but we also wanted to see most of the trip as well since neither one of us could ever imagine needing or wanting to make a drive like this again.

Although this level of organization may seem like the science of qiyas when equipped with a state-of-the-art navigation system in my truck, I can’t help but think that a 5-day trip with 5 planned stops for a family traveling with a dog and a baby (neither of which have ever traveled in a car for more than a couple of hours) it’s imperative to identify additional potential stops at dog-friendly hotels in advance. We need alternate targets that can serve as half-way markers between stops in the event Catherine or Lulu just aren’t doing well…AND potential stops / hotels just past our scheduled stops in the event we are able to / need to make up time and can comfortably survive going on a little further….so that explains the thought process a little… 

PTS TRIP 1.jpg
PTS TRIP 2.jpg
PTS TRIP 3.jpg
PTS TRIP 4.jpg

Entertaining Clients: Throwing a Birthday Party

2012-12-18 13.39.52.jpg

Some nice birthday gifts received from Catherine’s friends today and a wonderful party all around.

My wife did a lot to make it special and I was moved by the beauty of her happily getting lost in what truly was a labor of love…a commitment to excite and thrill our little girl.  

We stayed up pretty late the night before preparing hand-made decorations and favors in order to construct an “Arts & Crafts” themed party. She monogramed white oversized children’s oxfords with different colored fabric letters for guests to use as smocks they could use at the party and then take home. She also put together a “make-your-own party hat” station as one of the activities for the day and “sock puppet kits” comprised of everything from the sock with cardboard mouth pre-glued in to eyes, whiskers, spots and anything else required for the respective animal or creature-in-a-bag. These kits were packed in their goody bags as well. We both really enjoyed thinking of the animals and characters for which we spent hours cutting out their parts from sheets of felt and making a few of our own along the way.

The sample sock puppet my wife made was hilarious! It actually had a Muppet-like personality. Green yarn hair. Black googley eyes (complete with eyebrows), a long pointy nose and a long thin black mustache. I couldn’t stop laughing when she put it on for a trial run and made “Juan” immediately come alive with his Spanish accent and adult humor. 

Support Services: Translating "I can't do it!"

2012-12-25 22.48.21.jpg

http://www.janetlansbury.com/2012/09/when-children-cant-do-it-and-how-to-help/

The above link is to a great article which addresses a question my wife and I have had as to why our 3yr old daughter is continually complaining and whining/crying about not being able to put on her shoes or dress herself when we know she can. We have tried everything from: “Come on, show Mommy / Daddy how you can do it.” to “Stop this silliness…I know you can do it.” Which apparently may only be placing more stress on her. (I’ve even noticed that her pretending to be a kitty cat also coincides with her demands for help with tasks she has already mastered…as if she is trying to remove herself from the situation of expectation). When attempting to translate "I can't do it!" we try to look at other potential sources of frustration that may be manifesting themselves during dressing time. We did recently move half-way across the country and she is in a new school….both of which are events mentioned in the article as potentially driving the need for a bit more nurturing.

Lately, we have been trying to practice some benign neglect out of fear that we were babying our daughter and hovering too much. Although we don’t want to contribute to an overly dependent child, perhaps we are now over-compensating and hitting her with higher expectations too suddenly. The fact that she is attending school and thriving has definitely put me in a little bit more of an achievement mode for her and this article has helped bring me back to home base. We are grateful for this new perspective and after only two days of exercising this new approach we are seeing more independence with regards to dressing about 50% of the time. 

Talent Aquisition: Mommy's Job Offer

Talent.jpg

As a specialist, my wife receives letters and postcards (sometimes twice a week) from recruiters and health systems all over North America. They never explicitly state which hospital it is specifically but they all guarantee: top salaries, high quality of life, national sports teams, major universities and “…a wonderful place to raise children”.

My wife is working very hard with a practice covering seven hospitals in three states and feels as though her employers’ commitment to her is as not as significant as her commitment to  them. She always says “Your first job is never your last…” So, after 5+ years of interest from Sanford Hospital in South Dakota, we’ve decided to take a look. Although we couldn’t imagine living in South Dakota... we did some research on Sanford Health and decided it was worth the visit. At the very least, it would be an opportunity for my wife to catch up with an old friend and former colleague for whom she has a tremendous amount of respect.

FAST FORWARD 7 WEEKS…  

When we arrived in Sioux Falls South Dakota, we were simply blown away at this hospital’s whisper of a “Talk” and thunderous “Walk”. Thanks to Premier One Bankcard founder Denny Sanford (and his $700MM in gifts so far…), Sioux Valley Hospital has been renamed “Sanford Hospital” (surprisingly) and transformed into a region-shaping health care network with an infrastructure of physicians in leadership and an outreach spanning 126 communities throughout 8 states. They are implementing several initiatives including global children's clinics, multiple research centers and finding a cure for type 1 diabetes and breast cancer. With both domestic and overseas satellites opening at a record-pace, Denny Sanford is creating an unprecedented momentum of ensuring the highest caliber of healthcare both in the Midwest and in 18 countries throughout the world (now developing international clinics in Ireland, Ghana, Israel and Mexico). Organizational growth and development with cutting-edge medicine, sophisticated research and advanced education like this isn’t seen in cities ten times their size.

We arrived the weekend of Sanford Hospital’s Annual Gala ( benefiting the expansion of their cardiac division) and graciously accepted what we believed would simply be an opportunity to meet some folks on the team and have a nice dinner. I’ve been to a lot of these events and they always seem to follow the same syllabus: cocktails followed by a President’s greeting, a few words of promise by the CEO or COO then a video presentation of the good work being done by talented physicians and administration’s plans for the future. Then it’s back to dinner and some dancing afterwards.

The Sanford Healthcare gala we attended not only brought one of the better meals I’ve had this year to our table (a perfect medium rare filet, roasted brussel sprouts and truffled potato gratin), but also tears to my eyes…and handkerchief. Never before have I been so moved by the parents of children whose life-changing stories were shared …or by the teams of dedicated people working orchestrally, from top to bottom, who selflessly make such a monumental difference. But the Sanford story did not end when the lights came back on. This was not a benefit injected with a presentation of “good work being done”. This was simply a spotlight on life at Sanford whose message of “Improving the human condition through exceptional care, innovation and discovery” didn’t end with a video. Improving the lives of children, specifically, didn’t seem like “just a job” people are doing here…it seemed more like a calling. An ingrained way of living life. A belief system that is evident in everything from the conversations between fulfilled guests at every table and the LED-illuminated spinning magic wands handed out on the dance floor (that surely made many a baby-sat children at home delighted in the morning) to the child prodigy pianist who led the orchestra all evening long.

I guess it’s just an overall feeling of genuine commitment to care and to the community of people who provide it…and there doesn’t seem to be a sense of (or pre-occupation with) time clocks, budgets or superfluous layers of administration associated with it. The passion was palpable and contagious. It’s hard to be around people like that and not feel a moral imperative to join them.  It’s hard to be a father and not want an amenity like them for your own child.

Now that some of our preconceived notions regarding the Midwest have been obliterated, we have a lot to talk about on the flight home.

Scientific Management: Decoding the Parent Gene

sidebar.jpg

“Being happy and finding life meaningful overlap, but there are important differences. A large survey revealed multiple differing predictors of how individuals arrive at happiness (controlling for meaning) and meaningfulness (controlling for happiness). Satisfying one’s needs and wants increased happiness but was largely irrelevant to meaningfulness.

Happiness was largely present-oriented, whereas meaningfulness involves integrating past, present, and future. For example, thinking about future and past was associated with high meaningfulness but low happiness. Happiness was linked to being a taker rather than a giver, whereas meaningfulness went with being a giver rather than a taker. Higher levels of worry, stress, and anxiety were linked to higher meaningfulness but lower happiness. Concerns with personal identity and expressing the self contributed to meaning but not happiness.

In short, one might say that this study finds that the contribution of something meaningful in our, or another’s life requires the sacrifice of personal happiness. What they fail to recognize is the inherent fulfillment and happiness a parent experiences when they contribute meaningfully to their child’s life in any way…regardless of the worry, stress and anxiety that may be involved.

My own conclusion… Parenting defies the laws of science through selflessness.

see-Businessinsider.com/ http://www.businessinsider.com/happy-vs-meaningful-life-2012-11

Outside The Box: Considering Relocating

Blackberry 12.2012 067.jpg

My wife just told me about an in incredible job opportunity she has in Sioux Falls, SD. She may as well have said it was somewhere in the Himalayas. Seriously, what’s the difference? I just looked at a map to see where South Dakota is located because, although i'm somewhat embarrassed to admit it, my knowledge of domestic geography is akin to that of a child’s proficiency with jigsaw puzzles. I’m pretty good with the corners and edges but a bit dodgy on the middle.

Living in a big coastal city with a baby, where cultural arts abound, is a lot like having a pool. It’s nice to look at… and if you didn’t have it, you’d wish you did but at the end of the day, you’re basically paying a premium for an amenity that's really appreciated more by your friends and family than you.

Don’t get me wrong. I recognize the inherent value of a big city with access to amenities like superior health care and education, the arts / museums and concept dining…even if you don’t regularly take advantage of them. Chances are, those amenities have drawn others to the area that may not take advantage of them either. So at the very least, you’re left with having like-minded neighbors with similar interests.

We moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia (back to my roots) just before Catherine was born. We thought that growing up with trees and a yard was preferable to vents in the street spewing out the smells of the subway and buses heaving clouds of heavy dark smoke on top of strollers on the sidewalk. Moving back to the suburbs not only offered our daughter the same kind of childhood my wife and I enjoyed, but also brought us closer to my family who made it downtown about as often as a herd of deer.

So, moving to the middle of the country doesn’t really seem feasible… but we’re considering it.

Face Time: Being 100% Present

I'm learning to enjoy what originally brought me into the restaurant business. My family, my love of food and my appreciation of interesting company. When you are the one serving all the time... as opposed to the one being served, it's a lot like being a deaf musician.

I realize that my life is so much better now and that I’m so blessed to have everything I've ever wanted...everything that's important to me...and yet I still need to learn to relax and enjoy it. It's a strange feeling.

I’m getting better at not feeling as though there is something else I could be doing. Those feelings used to be a great source of stress regardless of how I channeled it or hid it. Not being able to complete a sentence. Not being able to make a phone call or finish a simple task like feeding the dog, folding the laundry or sending an email without this little person demanding my attention. It’s non-stop and as much as I love her, I can now understand the principles behind Chinese water torture. The constant repetition of something so innocuous (like light Bossa Nova or Yani or "Daddy!") over time can drive anyone nuts.

Being valuable meant being productive for so long….now I’m coming to terms with the beauty of things left undone. And in return, I’m able to catch one more of her smiles or share another laugh or just take one extra moment to remind her of how much she’s loved. This little girl wants my attention and should get it (most of the time). She deserves it. She’s already learned that she has me wrapped around her little finger and senses my stress when I’m not able to rush to her upon request but I’m curbing that now and practicing benign neglect (for her benefit more than mine). And as I watch her grow before my eyes, I’m struck with the seasonal nature of life and the fleeting of time. Before I know it, she’ll be 15 and telling me she hates me.

Sources & Uses: Non-Traditional Outlets for Kid Stuff

Being a parent shopping for children's “necessities” like miniature shopping carts or  doll houses can make one feel a bit like an unwitting tourist falling victim to a rapidly changing foreign exchange market. I mean, come on... does miniature plastic fruit really warrant a $69.95 price tag? I recently purchased a build-it-yourself dollhouse. The dolls and miniature furniture to fill it cost almost as much as our real life-sized dining room set.

I ’ve now been finding it very useful to source child-oriented products from non-traditionally child-themed stores.  The impetus for this was my original qualm with paying $8 for what felt like a notebook's-worth of paper that was so narrow, my daughter and her friends couldn’t avoid drawing and painting on the craft table it was intended to cover... and the quality was akin to that of the roll of tissue-paper masquerading as an impenetrable germ barrier protecting our children's naked bodies on doctors' examination tables.

This is a copy of an email I sent to my play-date posse:

FYI for those of you with easels or craft tables: 

HP 24"x150 print rolls are approx 3xs the paper, wider, better quality and

less expensive (even with taking shipping into consideration) per sqft than the Melissa&Doug or ALEX-like brands out there…and require less frequent roll changes.

See below.

Regards,

Josh

Keep Calm

and

Carry On


Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry

Subject: Your Order with Amazon.com

Thanks for your order, J.Sapienza!

Want to manage your order online?
If you need to check the status of your order or make changes, please visit our home page at Amazon.com and click on Your Account at the top of any page.

Purchasing Information:

Order Grand Total: $50.12

Get the Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card and get $30 instantly as anAmazon.com Gift Card.

Order Summary:

Your purchase has been divided into 3 orders.

Order #1 : (order will arrive in 1 shipment)

Order #:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Shipping Method:

Standard Shipping

Items:  

$14.25

Shipping & Handling:  

$9.12

------

Total Before Tax:  

$23.37

Estimated Tax To Be Collected:*  

$0.00

------

Order Total:  

$23.37

1

"HP Bright White Inkjet Paper (24 Inches x 150 Feet Roll)"
Office Product; $14.25
In Stock
   Sold by: Amazon.com

Order #2 : Shoplet

Order #:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Shipping Method:

Standard

Items:  

$11.72

Shipping & Handling:  

$5.29

------

Total Before Tax:  

$17.01

Estimated Tax To Be Collected:*  

$0.00

------

Order Total:  

$17.01

1

"HP Universal Bond Paper (24 Inches x 150 Feet Roll)"
Office Product; $11.72
In Stock
   Sold by: Shoplet

Order #3 : Essex Technology Group

Order #:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Shipping Method:

Standard

Items:  

$9.74

Shipping & Handling:  

$0.00

------

Total Before Tax:  

$9.74

Estimated Tax To Be Collected:*  

$0.00

------

Order Total:  

$9.74

1

"HP Recycled Bond Paper, 24 Inches x 150 ft Roll (CG889A)"
Office Product; $9.74
In Stock
Sold by: Essex Technology Group

Best Practices: Mitigating the Pain of Traveling with Children

Whenever we fly, most passengers near us are impressed that Catherine is such a well-behaved traveler. Even when she was a baby…we would get off a plane and invariably encounter one or two people who would comment about how nervous they were when they first saw us board with a child. They would then tell us how surprised they were that she was so quiet and well-behaved. The secret then and the secret now is that I only book flights that leave within an hour of her nap time (as long as it's not the last flight of the day when folks like Delta, United and US Air are typically overbooking flights to begin with) so that by the time we actually board the plane, she is ready for a good cuddle and some shut-eye.