Catherine wanted to have a Pancake Princess Party at the house...which meant only a handful of princesses. Sarah's Magic Wand Dispenser and Rainbow Lollipop Tree were both big hits!
I just drove by my daughter's school and stopped by the side of the road, just for a minute, to watch her running and jumping and laughing with friends on the playground...and my heart still swells with a joy that is almost overwhelming and so new to me.
My wife Sarah and I had always wanted to take a long train ride on some luxury rail car like the Orient Express...across the country. Around mountains and across prairies. Over bridges and through valleys. There's something romantic in a train's history... from the days of steam locomotives and establishment of the trans-continental railroad to classic murder mysteries and black and white Hitchcock films. The idea of seeing beautiful landscapes, at the ground level without the necessity of driving or piloting is novel to me. Perhaps the allure is in taking the long way when we spend so much of our lives on a tight schedule...hurrying from here to there.
After hearing myself explaining to our daughter: "let's go or we're going to be late..." far too many times, my wife and I finally decided to pull the trigger and break the mold of our traditional vacations and take "relaxing" beyond the beach... or a day spent at the park. Enjoying a museum or time in Catherine's "play room / art studio" is relaxing as well but I think it's important that we incorporate more dramatic pauses into her early developmental years and take the time to observe the world from a very different perspective.
I once read an article in the Long Beach Business Journal written by Ian Lamont, Senior Consultant and Principle of The Lamont Group (TLG).
In his article titled: "Knowing what you Don’t Know", he mentioned a concept that greatly impacted his leadership style and perspective on business known as “Management by Wandering Around”. Although I’m a firm advocate of hospitality managers and athletes “moving with a purpose” (as a friend and former colleague, Tom Jackson, used to be fond of saying), the concept has stuck with me as a valuable tool used to successful temper over-management.
“…a book I read when I was a young manager, full of ego and pride, was Tom Peter’s In Search of Excellence. One term that stayed with me was “MBWA- management by wandering around.” In my career I have been the CEO of small businesses and large businesses. No matter the size, most days I did my “MBWA”. Despite having other executives tell me “I don’t have time to wander around,” nothing I could have done at my desk was more valuable than what I learned during my “wandering around.”
I learned about families, vacations, upcoming celebrations and life’s struggles. I became human to employees (fancy that, the CEO cares). I found out what was impacting their performance, what they thought, what they would do. My management team started “MBWA” also and not just in their own department. I am proud to say at every business, performance was high, and record setting years occurred. Not because of me or even my senior managers. It was due to the right people being put in the best position to be successful and everyone understanding that if they did not know the answer, it was OK to seek out someone who did.
So try “MBWA”. Ask the people around you, "What do you need to know to do your job?" Sit with them at their desks and ask them about the processes they've adopted; the systems they use and the knowledge they draw upon. The answers will surprise you, especially after they get accustomed to the surprise of you asking.
Kick off every staff meeting by going around the room and asking participants to volunteer something they've recently learned about the business.
By showing you're constantly hungry for knowledge, you create an open culture that facilitates the free exchange of ideas. And the best part of all is that you'll maintain a high degree of self-awareness: You'll act on what you know — and take steps to find out what you don't. You will park your ego and pride and become one heck of a leader!”
I’m convinced that there is value in sitting back and watching the world as it plays by through something other than the screen of an i pad or large screen LED. Don't get me wrong...our daughter has plenty of “outside time” riding her bike, going for walks, playing in the park or on her play set with friends....but we are committed to exposing her to the natural world from as many different perspectives as possible.
Most of the majestic sights she's witnessed have been while engaged in some other consuming activity...be it playing on the beach, skiing atop a mountain, flying 15,000 feet above the ground or from the confines of a car seat.
Although the Grand Canyon, Volcanos and Giant Sequoias are on our must-see list...taking a long ride and just watching the world go by seems important right now.
After heading to New York to see the Big Apple Circus (a requisite after watching Madagascar 3 almost as many times as she's watched Mac and Cheese dissapear from a spoon) we will be taking an 11 hour train ride from Penn Station to Mount Tremblant in Quebec Canada. The Adirondack train's route from New York City, through the lush wine country of the Hudson Valley, into Montreal is supposedly "one of the top 10 most scenic train rides in the world".
Stacy King Gordon of suiteseven.com writes:
"...many of the people to whom we speak are laser-focused on the get-er-done: driving the day-to-day business ahead with the blocking and tackling necessary to close sales, get projects done satisfactorily and maintain strong customer relationships. It leaves very little time for stepping outside the workflow and thinking about business strategy in the abstract. Spending an hour talking about opportunities, challenges, the marketplace, competitors and other topics is a rarity...That’s why brainstorming sessions — which creative teams have always believed to be the magic bullet for uncovering great ideas — are not always successful. Brainstorming team members are so focused on solving the problem within the time allotted that they don’t take the time to reflect on the business realities and naturally make the connections that help them arrive at a real breakthrough. (Scientists have even found that brain activity when arriving at creative a-ha’s is very different from the activity involved with traditional problem-solving.)"
Heading north, we will depart New York's Penn Station in the morning and arrive in Montreal later that evening, where we will take a car to what the New York Times calls "...[the combination] of a charming Canadian rustic logging town and the Old World flavor of the French Alps ... with a European-style pedestrian village nestled at the bottom of the mountains. We'll forgo the long way home in lieu of a direct flight back to Sioux Falls that affords us an extra day to ski... but the long route getting there should be a memorable and "grounding" experience.
I found the following article on Wikipedia and immediately realized the correlation between homeostasis in the scientific world and sustainable success in the business world. I found it very interesting to "edit" the piece by (inserting applicable terms) which serve as viable substitutions to the words preceding them.
For another coherent piece, one might also substitute familial terms along with principles of: love, discipline, respect and education respectively as these scientific concepts are universally sound across every family, school and business that is, at it's core, a small branch of the greater natural world in which we live.
"In simple terms, it is a process in which the body's internal environment is kept stable, despite changes in external conditions. The concept was described by Claude Bernarrd as Multiple dynamic equilibrium adjustment and regulation mechanisms make homeostasis possible."
With regard to any given life system (business) an organism (employee) may be a conformer or a regulator.
Regulators (managers) try to maintain parameters at a constant level over possibly wide ambient environmental variations.
Conformers (smart hires) allow the environment to determine their parameters (buy in).
For instance endothermic animals, namely mammals and birds(successful managers) maintain a constant body temperature (standard), while ectothermic animals, namely almost all other organisms (non-managent)unless acted upon may exhibit wide body temperature (behavioral) variation.
Behavioral adaptations (engaged managers) allow ectothermic animals (non-managent) to exert some control over a given parameter.
For instance, reptiles (unsatisfied employees) often rest on sun-heated rocks (strong leaders) in the morning to raise their body temperature (morale, performance or perception).
Regulators (Management) are also responsive to external circumstances (customers, market fluxtuation, demand, competition, etc..), however: if the same sun-baked boulder (motivational leader) happens to host a ground squirrel (colleague / employee requiring less motivation) , the animal's metabolism (colleague's moral, performance, perception, etc...) will adjust to the lesser need for internal heat production (motivation) .
An advantage of homeostatic regulation (effective management) is that it allows an organism (business) to function effectively in a broad range of environmental conditions. For example,ectotherms( non-management employees) tend to become sluggish at low temperatures (when business is slow), whereas a co-located endotherm (manager) may be fully active. That thermal stability comes at a price (higher salary and benefits) since an automatic regulation system (keeping your head when all others about you are losing theirs...) requires additional energy.
All homeostatic control mechanisms (Successful Systems of Operation) have at least three interdependent components for the variable being regulated: The receptor is the sensing component that monitors and responds to changes in the environment (executives / general managers). When the receptor senses a stimulus (performance), it sends information to a "control center", the component that sets the range at which a variable is maintained (board of directors / ownership) The control center (board) determines an appropriate response to the stimulus (performance). In most homeostatic mechanisms, the control center is the brain. The control center then sends signals to effectors (mid-level management), which can be muscles, organs or other structures that receive signals from the receptors (general manager) or control center (directors). After receiving the signal, a change occurs to correct the deviation by either enhancing it with positive feedback or depressing it with negative feedback.
Mechanisms (praise) designed to accelerate or enhance the output created by a stimulus (successful performance) that has already been activated (achieved).
Unlike negative feedback mechanisms that initiate to maintain or regulate (critique / correct) physiological functions within a set and narrow range (underperformance), the positive feedback mechanisms are designed to push levels out of normal ranges (motivate by positive reinforcement).
To achieve this effect, a series of events initiates a cascading process (appreciation and engagement) that builds to increase the effect of the stimulus (performance). This process can be beneficial but is rarely used by the body due to risks of the acceleration's (unwarranted praise/ reward or unnecessary expenses) benefit being diluted.
One positive feedback example event in the body is blood platelet accumulation, which, in turn, causesblood clotting in response to a break or tear in the lining of blood vessels. Another example is the release of oxytocin to intensify the contractions that take place during childbirth.
Negative feedback mechanisms consist of reducing the output activity (limiting privileges or offering constructive criticism) of any organ (employee with opportunity to improve) or system (many) back to its normal range of functioning (procedure).
A good example of this is regulating blood pressure. Blood vessels can sense resistance of blood flow against the walls when blood pressure increases. The blood vessels act as the receptors and they relay this message to the brain. The brain then sends a message to the heart and blood vessels, both of which are the effectors. The heart rate would decrease as the blood vessels increase in diameter (known as vasodilation). This change would cause the blood pressure to fall back to its normal range. The opposite would happen when blood pressure decreases, and would cause vasoconstriction.
Another important example is seen when the body is deprived of food. The body would then reset the metabolic set point to a lower than normal value. This would allow the body to continue to function, at a slower rate, even though the body is starving. Therefore, people who deprive themselves of food while trying to lose weight would find it easy to shed weight initially and much harder to lose more after. This is due to the body readjusting itself to a lower metabolic set point to allow the body to survive with its low supply of energy. Exercise can change this effect by increasing the metabolic demand.
Both feedbacks are equally important for the healthy functioning of one's body...
Many diseases (business failures) a result of disturbance of homeostasis, a condition known as homeostatic imbalance (mismanagement). As it ages, every organism (business) will lose efficiency in its control systems(process management). The inefficiencies gradually result in an unstable internal environment (dymamics) that increases the risk for illness (losses). In addition, homeostatic imbalance(mismanagement) is also responsible for the physical changes associated with aging (obsolescence). Even more serious than illness (losses) and other characteristics of aging(inefficiency) is death(bankruptcy). Heart failure has been seen where nominal negative feedback mechanisms become overwhelmed, and destructive positive feedback mechanisms then take over.Diseases(failures) that result from a homeostatic imbalance (mismanagement) include diabetes(inability to balance books), dehydration(lack of working capital), hypoglycemia(inability to drive sales), hyperglycemia (lack of infrastructure to handle volume), gout (disruptive employees), and any disease caused by a toxin present in the bloodstream (loss, theft, embezzlement).
All of these conditions result from the presence of an increased amount of a particular substance (problem). In ideal circumstances, homeostatic control mechanisms (successful management) should prevent this imbalance from occurring, but, in some people (organizations), the mechanisms (standard operating procedure, standard of care or systems of operation) do not work efficiently enough or the quantity of the substance (seriousness or lifespan of the problem) exceeds the levels at which it can be managed.
In these cases, medical intervention (outside consulting services) is necessary to restore the balance, or permanent damage to the organs (culture, mission, people power, etc...) may result.
According to the following citation, every illness has aspects to it that are a result of lost homeostasis (managent controls): "Just as we live in a constantly changing world, so do the cells and tissues (businesses) survive in a constantly changing microenvironment (marketplace). The 'normal' or 'physiologic' (profitable or sustainable) state then is achieved by adaptive responses to the ebb and flow of various stimuli (activity and performance) permitting the cells and tissues to adapt and to live in harmony within their microenvironment... Thus, homeostasis is preserved. What is good for individual cell is good for the entire system.
Author George Leonard discusses in his book "Mastery" how homeostasis affects our behavior and who we are. He states that homeostasis will prevent our body from making drastic changes and maintain stability in our lives even if it is detrimental to us.Examples include when an obese person starts exercising, homeostasis in the body resists the activity to maintain stability. Another example Leonard uses is an unstable family where the father has been a raging alcoholic and suddenly stops and the son starts up a drug habit to maintain stability in the family.
A note to other advisors, consultants, parents or anyone looking to champion a turn-around, Leonard also said: "Homeostasis is the main factor that stops people changing their habits because our bodies view change as dangerous unless it is very slow." Expect resistance and unnecessary delays if the need for change isn't first communicated and desired system-wide. Expect success if it is and you have the time and resources to walk them as opposed to pushing them through it.
As human beings, we are all inherently driven to explore and find pleasure through the exploration of our physical senses. In a world of swiping, sliding and tapping one or more fingers in order to: navigate, zoom, shrink, pan and close… we are concerned about the propensity for our child to grow disconnected from the very fabric of her nature.
We are doing our best to develop our daughter’s natural senses and curiosities that, we believe, are as interwoven with her mental and moral fabric as physical comprehension is with conceptual learning. So much more than a formal writing system used to communicate the spoken word, handwriting is an art form that not only standardizes communication of the spoken word, but serves as the media through which any culture celebrates their collective history and individual spirit.
In my earlier post; "DMSMS: Is Handwriting Technically Obsolete?" I discussed the fact that although Smithsonian.com ran an article in March of 2013 citing: A survey in the US in 1960 found that the decision to teach cursive in elementary schools was “based mainly on tradition and wide usage, not on research findings; researchers are now using magnetic resonance imaging to study brain activity say handwriting, whether print or cursive, engages more of the brain in learning and forming ideas.”
With the help of exceptional educators, progressive manufacturers, thoughtful developers (like Montessorium ) and mindful parents, we are discovering more and more tools that support our goal of keeping cursive and related arts based in touch alive.