Saturday, December 02, 2006

November Books

Well, with the onslaught of Christmas gift catalogs that start flooding our mailbox in November...and the extra-thick magazines that have all sorts of great articles this time of year, my book list for November is a bit short. But the two books that I did read were very interesting, & I especially enjoyed the first book on my list.

Riding The Blue Train: A leadership plan for explosive growth by Bart Sayle & Surinder Kumar.

Surinder is a neighbor of ours, & another neighbor assisted in the publishing process, and if it weren't for them I probably would never have thought to read this book. But...I am so glad I did! While the book discusses business practices & is about "groundbreaking management ideas that help hundreds of companies transform their organizations & jump-start their results", it was Chapter 5 that completely fascinated me.

essentially, the authors describe people as being on either a Red Train or a Blue Train. Red Train people are "defensive, pessimistic, & closed to new ideas. Their energy is negative, they anger easily, and they tend to react in knee-jerk fashion, resistant to anything untried or requiring change. People who work in Red Train companies tend to feel stressed and limited, stuck, blocked, and abused."

You could easily replace the word "company" for "family" and the description would remain the same.

On the other hand, "Those on the Blue Train are creative and optimistic and embrace the opportunities inherent in change. These people tend to love their jobs, are enthusiastic about what they're doing, and feel passionate and inspired by their missions." Imagine if we all had Blue Train families!

So what does a Blue Train family look like? How does a Blue Train family act? Another quote might give us a good idea:

"People on a Blue Train cycle engage in events, interacting with them and exploring them. They use magical thinking, believing that anything is possible and that they can resolve issues constructively."

"They have presence of mind to step back from an event to analyze how they interpret it, how they react to it, and how they communicate their feelings about it." In dealing with our children, I know THAT is how I wish to approach any issues.

"People on the Blue Train look a potentially difficult situation and say 'These were the cards I was dealt. What I can I do with them? How can I make the most of this?'" Sometimes life presents us with challenges, and I love the Blue Train thinking pattern!

"People on the Blue Train let go of old ways of interpreting events when those ways no longer work. Few ways of looking at things or interpreting things last forever without tweaking. Letting go of these old interpretations and keeping oneself open to new interpretations is Blue Train thinking." This is especially important thinking for Homeschoolers! We're all drawn to homeschooling for different reasons, but one of the resounding reasons is that public schools are not working properly! Sure, the students are memorizing lots of facts, but are they truly learning those facts? Blue Train thinkers want to move past the thought of "That's how I learned as a kid, so it must be done that way for my children", & come up with their own methods. And that isn't just for homeschoolers!!! Any students would remember much more history, let's say, if they visited a Civil War reenactment than if they just studied it in History class.

"Risks are essential to staying on the Blue Train because growth & creativity are the by-products of risk. New opportunities are by their nature risky because they take one out of one's own comfort zone." Honestly, homeschooling is WAY out of my comfort zone! I attended public school my entire chidlhood, and I went to college to teach in a public setting. So keeping Reese at home & having total freedom to choose whatever I want to teach is a bit scary. But, I know in my heart that at this point in life, homeschooling is what is right for Reese and I'm riding the Blue Train!

" People on the Blue Train generate many things--energy, ideas, conversations, and possibilities, among others." This is essential in homeschooling, & any family, really.

How else can the Blue Train apply to family life?
"Blue Train leaders live their lives in creative mode. They focus on growth and making a difference and they empower others to make decisions. They tend to be open-minded and effective communicators and their team feels comfortable sharing issues and problems with them because team members know that problems will be dealt with constructively. The Blue Team leader takes measured risks and happily operates in a stretch zone rather than a comfort zone."

Would you love to live in a Blue Train family like that? Where your children knew they could come to you with problems because they understood it would be dealt with constructively? Maybe some of you are naturally Blue Train parents...

And a last quote...
"People on the Blue Train don't identify strongly with the idea of being right or wrong. The goal is to be creative, be productive, and seize opportunities. When someone is not afraid to fail, the notion of taking risks seems significantly less daunting. There is of course a difference between taking risks and being reckless, but measured risk--a risk that has a decent chance of a positive outcome--is an essential part of being on the Blue Train and the clearest sign yet that someone is jumping off the Red Train."

Riding The Blue Train was such an interesting book! I never expected to find an entire chapter that applies to family life SO profoundly. The rest of the book is quite interesting in it's discussion of the history of some major corporations (Wrigley, PepsiCo, Warner-Lambert) and the development of leadership in the corporations. But I would encourage anyone to read Chapter 5 of this book.

This concept of Red Train & Blue Train is so vivid & simple that even preschoolers "get it". The son of a friend of ours told his little brother the other day that he was on the Red Train because he was being fussy, and he should be on the Blue Train! If a 3 year old can comprehend the Blue Train, then there's got to be something behind it!!

And not to leave out the 2nd book I read, the unschooling handbook: How to use the whole world as your child's classroom by Mary Griffith was also a fun read. My fingers ache from typing about the Blue Train, so if you're curious about this book, email me! :)

No comments: