Stretch international cyber book club - Ch. 4

Stretch international cyber book club - Ch. 4

by Heather Higinbotham Davies

If you missed the earlier chapters, catch up on them:
 
And, if you haven’t had time to read the comment threads, I encourage you to check them out. We’ve got a good discussion going on.
 
Okay.
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Knowing a little about a lot…
 
First things first: confessions. Hi, my name is Heather, and I am a compulsive learner.
 
It started out innocently enough. “Sure, stained glass club sounds fun! Never tried it, why not?” I played multiple sports, played piano, sang in the choir, took creative writing and astronomy and photography courses, and read incessantly. Without a second thought, I gallivanted off toward whatever next shiny object caught my eye. This innate fascination with everything I don’t know has led to early graduations, a somewhat unhealthy obsession with Malcolm Gladwell and brain psychology, a couple of master’s degrees, and a impractical pining for a PhD. 
 
I have always been a fast learner. Yet I never had the interest or discipline in excelling at any one or five things—I always did just enough to land me a spot near the top, but never at the top. I don’t know if this was sheer laziness or a genuine desire to fulfill my tendencies for a multi-passionate life: I was way too busy doing other fun stuff than to waste energy on being valedictorian. However, I’ve long believed the “jack of all trades, master of none” trait was a hindrance and a negative, and I’ve tried to cure myself of it. This was such a refreshing chapter! 
 
Sonenshein opens the chapter with a nod to Napoleon Dynamite, a film I’m hesitant to admit due to its cult following never having watched. It was one of Netflix’s most watched films, and the greatest challenge to its recommendation algorithm, due to its polarizing results: people either vehemently loathed it, or were tattooing movie quotes on their delicate flesh. Thus was born the Netflix Prize: a contest to improve the algorithm’s accuracy by 10%. It attracted the brightest minds in math and science, and just a guy in a garage—quite possibly the best team name ever. “For Gavin Potter, the Netflix Prize was as much a puzzle in understanding these types of human irrationalities as it was a show of math and computing prowess”. 
 
We are introduced to the idea that “outsiders can regularly outperform experts in solving a problem in their own area of expertise, especially for complex challenges. The key to outsiders’ results lies with the diversity of their experience.” In short, we can’t see it, because we know too much about it and this is clouding our judgment; literally rendering us unable to access creativity in problem solving. This must be the origin of the concept of having a fresh pair of eyes when we are finally tired of beating our heads against the wall. 
 
Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule from his book Outliers “reasons that obtaining expertise depends on practice…and not inborn talent”. This applies to situations with static rules: chess or hockey, or in my case, piano. I played classical piano from 6 years old through college. I could play damn near any piece of music that was put in front of me. But I couldn’t improvise to save my life. I watched with envy and terror as my musician friends started bands and jammed together, improvising and creating music from thin air. That scared the shit out of me. There were no rules. No way to do it “right”. This is precisely why I started piano lessons again, at age 38, to learn jazz improv. And it still terrifies me, every single time I go to my lesson. 
 
Sonenshein shares that practice predicts performance far less that we believe—as little as 1%, for fields such as selling insurance or flying a plane—and that the greater indicator was the level of predictability. “For fields without stable rules, thousands of hours of practice turn out to be less relevant because the rules constantly shift; it is hard to become an expert in something always changing.” 
 
Thus is the nature of life: two heads are better than one, the hive mind, the wisdom of crowds. Yet we are trained to trust the experts, to not be open to the perspectives of outsiders. By adhering to the mindset that outsiders are of no worth, we gloss over this: “Experts come with a significant liability…cognitively entrenched, blinded to using resources in ways that depart from conventions.” Only after we’ve exhausted all possible solutions (aka kept trying the same thing over and over and getting the same results…Einstein’s definition of insanity!) do we even think about looking to outsiders for help. 
 
I was surprised/not surprised by Sonenshein’s correlation to women in science as outsiders, and their 23.4% greater probability of solving a problem compared to men: approaching problems more openly and not being set on traditions and the ways things are “supposed” to be done or used. 
 
Sonenshein’s multi-context (multi-c) rule purports that the more diverse a person’s experience, the more expansively they are able to consider creative and non-traditional uses of resources. This is in stark contrast to the traditional economy-growing gospel from Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations: more widgets, cheaper, faster. That’s great for manufacturing. Innovation and problem solving, not so much. A study of CEO pay found that multi-c executives earned up to 19% higher; jobs with more complexity earned multi-c executives up to 44% more. 
 
He presents four steps for embracing the multi-c rule. 
 
1. Explore the world around you: cast a wide net, satisfy your curiosity for no other reason than that, and take Thomas Edison’s advice: “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” 
2. Make all resources accessible: from past projects, that seem to have no relevance to the problem at hand, ideas and prototypes and failed initiatives. 
3. Analogical Reasoning: “make connections to similar problems that on the surface look different.”
4. Regularly test ideas. Expect most to fail. Don’t hesitate to abandon ideas that don’t work (but keep them in the resource museum for future challenges!). 
 
Sonenshein closes the chapter with an ode to the time when “the same people wrote poetry and built bridges”. This sounds like a dreamy world. He shares research about innate differences between people that seem so obvious but are overlooked/have skewed importance in the way our society operates today: openness to experience. We are taught to conform, to get that job, to graduate college, to save up to buy that house or car, etc. etc., do one thing well and build our career and life around it, all in the name of perpetuating the “American Dream”. I’m thrilled to see so many pushing back against this conformity and being open to seeking out the unfamiliar, embrace curiosity, follow our passions, change careers, and try new things without being held back by that fear of failure or lack of conformity.  
 
I have been fairly successful in doing this in my personal life. In business it’s a far greater challenge. I have this fledgling sustainability program I’m trying to redesign, and find myself getting stuck in the same thinking that I’ve had around it for the past 9 years. I am excited to apply what I learn in this book to figure out a way to approach it in new and different ways.
 
I look forward to hearing your takeaways from this chapter! 
 
Up Next: Ch 5 by Xeno Hemlock
  • 7 February 2018
  • Author: Tracey Yokas
  • Number of views: 809
  • Comments: 23
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23 comments on article "Stretch international cyber book club - Ch. 4"

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Sarah Hunter

2/8/2018 1:14 PM

Thank you Heather! I appreciate your summary and insights!

I enjoyed this chapter. A lot. I liked the concepts presented and resonated with them. Cognitive entrenchment and the redundancy of "dream teams" struck me in particular. In my own law practice (complex family law, divorce, and child custody with a focus on families with mental health issues in the parents and/or children) I struggled with that a lot. Just because the "regular" way works for most people doesn't mean it's the best solution for each individual family. It was daily work to keep my mind open to new arrangements and to closely listen to each client to keep from making assumptions about their reality. It was also daily work to look outside of the traditional sources for information that would help me craft a parenting plan that would serve the family well.

I have a serious crush on Story Musgrave, the ultimate Renaissance Man. Just had to put that in here.

The tension between division of labor (specialization) and developing multi-c (breadth of experience) is fascinating and important. There seems to be a sweet-spot where "Getting outside of our worlds is a first step, and the most successful experts also follow the multi-c rule, staying close enough to be relevant but far enough to be free from the orthodoxy that steeps people in a narrow, and insular, world."

Deep and diverse. Both must be cultivated in order to be truly creative. It seems to me Heather is on the right path being a "compulsive learner".

Over the last several years I have employed a practice of saying "yes" to things and activities to which I had previously reliably said "no". I have found myself doing things I never thought I would, simply because the idea occurred to me and I said yes. I've also stopped waiting on others (husband, kids, siblings, friends) to do those things with me and that has freed me up enormously. I revel in those moments connecting with the waiter, barista, docent, person in the elevator, etc. Yes, I've become that lady - the one who asks you how you are and waits for the answer. The answer is interesting.

All of this feeds my creativity while I continue to work on craft through classes and writing groups. Broad and deep. I didn't realize I was on a productive path until I read this chapter.


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Tracey Yokas

2/9/2018 12:49 PM

I love this comment Sarah..and I love that you are finding ways to say yes to life's diversity regardless of whether others can join you or not. That is courageous and inspirational. I, too, am trying to say yes more often, to stretch into new experiences. Just yesterday, my 2nd round of teaching Creative Art Journaling commenced at our Adult Ed school here. I enjoy the experience very much because I enjoy sharing knowledge I've learned about art techniques and crafts. But. It also TERRIFIES me because I do NOT consider myself an "Artist" and I have the feeling in my body when class starts like I'm just waiting for someone to realize what a scheister I am. (I have no idea how to spell that.) Anyway..my progress is in the saying yes, as is yours and its so exciting. I can't wait to hear more about your experiences. Thank you for sharing <3


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Sue Schwartz

2/9/2018 8:14 PM

Oh my, Tracey! You are an Artist! You've created a very large array of beautiful & inspiring works. You have inspired me with ideas on many, many occasions. No one is class is going to think you are a poser. Your students are there to learn new techniques and tap into their creativity. Art is partly about sharing, on many levels. You are sharing what you've learned and that is very much appreciated!


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Tracey Yokas

2/9/2018 10:24 PM

Thank you dear friend <3


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Kelly Alblinger

2/8/2018 2:48 PM

Heather, thank you for touching on a couple of concepts that are near and dear to my heart! I love it that you said this:

I’m thrilled to see so many pushing back against this conformity and being open to seeking out the unfamiliar, embrace curiosity, follow our passions, change careers, and try new things without being held back by that fear of failure or lack of conformity.

My son graduated high school last June, and literally spent the entire summer on his bed surfing phone apps, or, when he did see fit to become upright, going to the skate park. He didn't register for college or find a job. Needless to say, as a parent, this was not encouraging behavior to witness in a fledgling adult.

However, I've come to realize that it was a dormancy period for him, a time to reflect upon his interests and passions, and (passively) explore new directions. This was not made clear to me until concerned grandparents wanted to know what Ethan was going to DO with his life, and I didn't have an immediate answer.

Years ago, when he was still in elementary school, one of his teachers said to me, "We are educating our children for careers that don't even exist today." I thought that was profound, and I've never forgotten it. And it makes me realize that at 18, Ethan doesn't have to choose a career and rush headlong into creating it. At this point in time, he feels safe enough to explore his options, and despite my goal-driven personality, I feel inclined to give him the space to do that work. (Don't get me wrong - he's working p/t and contributing to the household. I'm not THAT indulgent!!) But you get what I'm saying. He is defining his own path, and I can't wait to see where it leads him.

The other concept you touched on was keeping all past resources accessible. I wouldn't have had a business if I didn't do that, because so much of my freelance secretarial work depended upon having learned a little bit about a lot of things. Jack of all trades has served me well. And it kind of makes me feel pity for people who don't know how to access their resources, because their lives must be far more difficult than mine, seeing as they have to reinvent every time they begin a project. (Or maybe I'm just lazy??)

Thanks for a great summation of the chapter!


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Tracey Yokas

2/9/2018 12:57 PM

Hey Kelly..love this, thank you. I have struggled with the flip side of the coin of the story of your son. There were occasions before she graduated high school when my daughter expressed a desire not to go to college. This was unthinkable to my husband and me. I mean, today a college degree is the equivalent that a high school degree was years ago. Right? !! ?? But then..all the shows I've watched, NPR stories I've listened to, articles I've read..talking about how we need to be okay with things like auto mechanic school or beauty school. Well, of course, they're okay because they are honest, necessary jobs. I think I'm starting here to sound like an asshole. My girl has always expressed a deep desire to be a hair stylist/make-up artist. So what the hell is wrong with that?? Nothing, of course. But she happens to also be really good at science and wants to save the ocean so becoming an environmental biologist/scientist sure sounds more appealing. At least to me and her dad. So we have encouraged her to give the science route the old "college try" saying that she can always fall back on beauty school. Ugh. This is giving me a stomach ache. Anyway, my long winded point is that I admire so much you giving your son the room and space to make his own decisions about his future. Because, it's, well, HIS! College has been hard for my girl. We urged her many times to come home and explore different paths, but she's stubborn as hell and refused. She seems to be finding her way..but I'm left to wonder about her transition there..and our roles as parents and the balance between them finding their own way and us "helping" them along. No answers..much food for thought. Thank you <3


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Xeno Hemlock

2/11/2018 3:59 AM

Thanks for sharing this, Kelly!

My college was "forced" to me by my mother. I didn't know what to pick for college then (guess I was still immature to know what I really want). Luckily, I ended up enjoying the course (Information Technology) and the decade of software development career that followed. Though I still sometimes think if I started earlier with my writing career, who knew where I'd be right now.

Maybe there's a grand design on why my life's path turned out like that so far. :D


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Patricia Young

2/8/2018 4:37 PM

Wow, Heather! You really nailed this chapter! What a great job in summary, experience, thoughts, views, experience, and authenticity.

Confession: I never Saw Napoleon Dynamite either! Lol!

Regarding "Jack of all trades, master of none." I can remember being embarrassed about it. Now I embrace it. It has served me very well, from talking with contractors, plumbers or their bosses and holding my own. I know just enough to sound like I can handle it with or without them - and they, in turn, treat me differently. Oh, how I wish I was that confident when we were having major work done on the house. I was too unsure to stand up for myself, now - ha - although I am still afraid of something, I am fearless in others - for sake of argument, I'm going to call that balanced!

Kelly, what you mentioned about the teacher saying to you regarding careers is SO true! One of the kids from my daycare graduated from Penn State just a few years ago. That is a $ 60,000-year tuition. She got a degree in Social Work. Now tell me, will she ever be able to afford to pay off her college loans with interest? SO much needs to be readjusted, overhauled and upgraded intuition vs what career you're striving for and for Pete sake, some putting BOCES programs down. My brothers best friend never went to college, but went to BOCES for two years and was making more as an electrician his first year than my brother did five years later. Life is packed with pressures enough, to expect a 17-18-year-old to automatically know what they want to do for the next 35 years is so unfair. Especially when they can add to their experiences by doing a variety of things.

Sarah when you said you connect with the people who are waitresses, etc OMG that is so me! I'm pretty sure my daughters used to cringe sometimes as I would ask questions and start up a conversation. Now I just sit back and smile as they do it - at a much younger age than I was ever brave enough to try -perhaps there is hope!

Again, Heather, you did a wonderful job pulling all the pieces together for us to see a completed picture :)


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Tracey Yokas

2/9/2018 1:06 PM

Thank you so much Patty for this great comment. And kudos to you and Sarah for taking time to talk to the various people you meet in life. I try to do that too, but sometimes I just don't because people can be so damn tiring! Lol...But it put me in mind of the YouTube video by a woman whose name I can't remember. Long story short..this type of connection..to people in your sphere is the number 1 predictor of living a longer life!! That shocked the crap out of me...not health or smoking or obesity or anything. Connection. My girl Brene..hitting it on the head again. I'm so glad you're a jack of all trades. My husband is too. They don't make em like they used to is for sure. It's a positive in the house as we never have to hire someone to fix anything around here, but a bit of a negative in that every neighbor and relative has him on speed dial to fix/build/take care of shit they don't know how to do. And double yes about BOCE (I had to look that up) but it's the point I made to Kelly's comment..or tried to make about the value of non-college track careers and getting out of this trap of what life is "supposed" to look like...thank you! <3


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Tracey Yokas

2/9/2018 1:30 PM

Thank you so much, Heather, for your awesome work here!! And wowza, taking jazz piano. How great is that? I totally related to what you wrote about that, though. I was a flute player in high school. 2nd chair. I would, in the Outlier construct, practice for hours and hours and hours to play the pieces as perfectly as possible. In high school, all the best musicians started playing in jazz band and improvising. There was me, on the sideline, because that kind of talent was not something I possessed. I applaud and admire you for going back to it. My flute is still sitting in my closet, all these years later. Why? I have no idea. And I'm incredibly excited to follow you and your sustainability program more closely and see where it leads you. I have no doubt that your breadth of experience will lead you where you want to go...

My stream of conscious thoughts on this chapter...

First, during the Netflix story, the author mentions France and industrialization, butter, and the invention of margarine: one of the world's MOST toxic "foods" for our bodies. I had to put an exclamation point next to that in the margin because to me it was an indication of stretching's darker side. If you're only looking at stretching from certain perspectives, then the creation of margarine is brilliant (not taking into account the fact that it can kill us.)

Overall, though, I really did enjoy this chapter and the stories he included therein. I echo an experience related to "experts." We were surrounded by experts when my daughter was diagnosed with a mental health issue. We trusted and relied on the experts because they were the experts and were supposed to know what to do. Without going off on a major rant and tangent, let me simply say that most of the so-called experts had plenty of run of the mill suggestions..none of which worked. One of the main lessons I learned during that period was to trust my gut. It's something I've tried to work on since then.

I, too, love the Story Musgrave story. I'd never heard of him..but how cool! I have to wonder though if he both proves and disproves the author's point. Because he is obviously the most ultimate jack of all trades. However, he got advanced degrees in all of those areas of his interest. This seems to me to make him an expert-expert jack of all tradesman. The very expertness of his multitude of abilities is what lead him to outer space. So I guess I'm saying he seems to be the best of both worlds. Hmmmmm.

I think I'm going to write a separate short piece on openness and intuition for my site as, I think, a gratitude post (see my home page if you're interested in reading it) because 1. I challenged myself to write 50 posts this year (yikes!) and need content and 2. because over the last 6 weeks I've experienced many instances of synchronicity including one today as I finished reading this chapter. So.. what? I don't know but I want to acknowledge it and be grateful for it.

Thanks again Heather!


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Xeno Hemlock

2/11/2018 4:00 AM

The dark side of stretching... I've never thought of that before. Thanks, Tracey for the idea!


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Sue Schwartz

2/10/2018 8:09 PM

Thank you for spearheading this chapter, Heather. I think it's awesome that you've learned so many things. I'm sure you are always a hit at dinner parties! lol

It's great to hear that one doesn't always have to be an expert in a certain field to make a great contribution to it. I get how when you are an expert in a field, you have a certain way of viewing objects or problems and that can be limiting. Sometimes we need to "unlearn" information that can hinder our imagination.

I see both of my children as "out-of-the-box" thinkers. (There are pro's & con's to that, from a parent's point of view!) They are both "creative types." My daughter, 25, is a writer and an astrologist. My son, 28, is an actor and a screenwriter. They are passionate about their chosen careers, and have been since they were young children.

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to take a group of people to one of those "escape room" entertainment venues. (If you aren't familiar with these, the idea is to solve various types of puzzles to ultimately find keys and figure out lock combinations to get you from one room to another). Up to 6 people were allowed to be in my group. Since my son lives locally, I made sure to clear the date with him first as I felt he'd be great at the puzzles we'd need to solve. It turned out that everyone helped solve the puzzles and we "made it out" before our time limit ran out. It was a very thrilling experience, and while it didn't always take 6 people to solve every puzzle we faced (sometimes it did!), having the input of 6 people was key to escaping within the time limit. Having any less than 6 people on the team would have limited our chances of escaping in time. Yay to teamwork!


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Tracey Yokas

2/13/2018 1:02 PM

Since I was lucky enough to be among the escape room attendees, I can tell you that it was for sure fascinating to participate in and watch the group dynamic unfold in that setting and to see the unique and varied ways each individual contributed to the escape. So true, that we wouldn't have made it without participation from everyone. Thank you sue!


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Xeno Hemlock

2/11/2018 4:14 AM

This chapter left me with more questions than conclusions but it's a good thing.

Though I want to be a full-time writer, I still can't shake off completely my interests in other fields. I like reading entrepreneurial articles, even joining online groups related to that. I'm into self-development, not as gung-ho as I used to be but approaching it now with a more mature perspective. I can't stop dabbling at graphic design. There are a few more other interests, which some say are distractions. But I can't let go of them even when "conventional wisdom" says so.

This chapter is like an affirmation that I can still pursue my writing career while still being open on those other fields (day job not included).

This chapter also reminds me so much of a life-changing book that crossed my path by accident: "The Gifted Adult" by Mary-Elaine Jacobsen especially after reading the Thomas Edison quote:

"To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk."


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Tracey Yokas

2/13/2018 1:03 PM

Yes Xeno..and I think what we're learning here about our varied interests is that it will make us that much stronger in our chosen primary endeavor. I've read your blog posts..your interest in your varied outlets come through loud and clear and you always manage to tie it back to you and your point for writing whatever your piece is about..a wonderful skill that broadens perspectives for the rest of us. I must check out that book! Thanks for sharing.


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Jeni

2/11/2018 7:39 PM

I had ups and downs with this chapter, I didn't relate to all of the points. I agree it's wonderful to have many interests and be a well-rounded person. There certainly isn't just one way to do things. I love when people think outside the box to obtain better results.

Experts don't always know what's best. Like my dad often says, "It's called medical practice for a reason, they don't have all the answers, they're practicing!"

The author talked about not wanting a "dream team of experts." Instead, surround yourself with a group of people who have varied interests, talents, and abilities. This didn't sit well with me. I understand his point. BUT... if I or a loved one, had a serious illness, or if I had a case going to trial, I'd definitely want a dream team of experts on my side.

When my daughters were about to start high school, at first I thought they "needed" to try (and be good at) everything to get into a good college; to play a sport, a musical instrument, be on the debate team, be in a high school play, etc.... but that's exhausting! Through trial and error, I learned that was way too much pressure. Sometimes it's best to focus on a couple of activities and work to perfect them. Choose what you love and don't try to be all over the map with tons of different things that don't matter to you.

Again, I understand the idea of knowing lots of different things, but sometimes, I think it can work against someone. Spreading yourself too thin, trying to "do it all." If you're spread too thin and doing way too much, then everything suffers and nothing is done really well.

One more thought about people dabbling in everything, believing they know a lot about a lot... I've come across a few "know-it-all's", and that can be annoying. Because they don't REALLY know about whatever it is, but they think they do. That can be offensive to someone who truly is an expert in that field.

How about that quote from biochemist Sir Tim Hunt about problems with girls in the lab: "You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them they cry." Ugh!! Glad he resigned from his university post.

When the author talked about the multi-c rule, I thought of the show "Undercover Boss." I think it's super important for the owner or manager of a company to have experience in all aspects of their business. Then they'd understand the difficulties the employees have, and can better figure out how to fix the process and have a more successful business (and happy employees!)


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Tracey Yokas

2/13/2018 1:10 PM

I totally get what you're saying, Jeni re: the team of expert thing. I wonder if that somehow ties back tho to the Musgrave story. Perhaps, using your medical issue example, the idea might be to gather a team of Story Musgraves. People who are so-so experts but in a variety of different fields to suggest approaches to healing. I know that doesn't fit exactly with what he's saying...But using my experience as an example, I wouldn't have wanted to ask an accountant his opinion on how to help my daughter. However, I can also see now that it would have been very helpful to perhaps include people with advance knowledge in other areas, say, like spirituality. That is not to say of course that therapy and spirituality don't go hand in hand, but I hope I'm being clear. (This is also sort of presupposes that the person will invite and allow the help!) I so agree with what you say about spreading ourselves and our children too thin. That is such a huge problem. And that is a super interesting point you make about know it alls. Yes, indeedy! Thank you!


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Janice Del Santo

2/13/2018 12:52 PM

My biggest takeaway from this chapter is the reinforcement of the idea of a fresh pair of eyes to lend new perspective. The statement that multiple experts have overlapping knowledge and redundant resources leads them to contribute very little that's unique. Most often we consult multiple experts to confirm and verify information or results, but in problem solving this may be counter-productive.


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Tracey Yokas

2/13/2018 1:12 PM

Yes, Janice..fascinating. Thank you!


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Christine

2/15/2018 12:48 PM

Thank you, Heather -- I resonate with the compulsive learner role, too -- working on my 4th degree after college now. As a word nerd, I particularly liked finding the phrase "cognitively entrenched" -- so apt and a reminder of the value of "beginner's mind." I found a lot of this material familiar but wound up pondering most about the role of women as innovators in science mainly because of the "outsider" position: if society can reach toward more egalitarianism, how do we also maintain the eye for innovation -- maybe by being wary of any tendencies to become "cognitively entrenched."


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Marci Goldberg

2/15/2018 5:14 PM

Thanks for a great summary and for sharing your personal experiences, Heather. I'm sorry to have to apologize once again for a late submission -- I think its the developing a love, experience, and breadth of knowledge in too many areas part of me that's too blame;0 !

I actually both loved and related to this chapter full of thougth-provoking big and small discussion points, fleshed out with unique anecdotes and studies. I felt particularly inspired by the idea that outsiders with a breadth of knowledge and a unique perspective can often succeed where entrenched specialists flounder. Though confirming what I already believe through instinct and experience, Sonenshein's reiteration of this powerful point infused me with a tangible boost of confidence that I can grasp and revisit in moments of self-doubt. I hope other women, non-traditional entrepreneurs, and hesitant destroyers of walls will find the same confidence in this chapter either to pursue or to persevere in the pursuit of their dreams.

My personal example of finding success as an outsider is in my practice as a family law mediator. The practice is still in its infancy, so I'm referring to process success rather than financial. The big players in this industry are retired family law judges, and the generally well-established assumption is that these prohibitively expensive experts are the best mediators money can buy for divorcing couples. As a non-practicing attorney and certified mediator, I contend with that perception and even sometimes have to battle my own negative self-talk that perhaps I don't have the years of experience in the courtroom fully to comprehend all the permutations of what a judge might do in every situation a divorcing couple might face. In reality, mediation isn't about what might happen in a courtroom. I might be a relative outsider to the legal process of divorce in comparison with a 30 year retired judge, but I have a background and skills in psychology, creativity coaching, crisis counseling, negotiation, mediation, and alternative dispute resolution, interpersonal communication, leadership, running meetings, managing households, understanding the best interests of children, household budgeting . . I quickly discovered that a mediator who can facilitate effective communication and support the parties in crafting a creative post-divorce plan to uniquely meet their actual needs will serve the parties far more effectively, efficiently, and less expensively than an expert family-court mediator who can most accurately re-create what might happen to the parties through litigation.


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Patricia Young

2/19/2018 8:40 AM

Wow, Marci! You have an amazing resume of impressive skills! You also have much more than what a 'typical' judge has in their footlocker of experience. Yes, they may have more time, but if you look closely in those courtrooms, there are many, many similar decisions if you know what I mean. What you can bring to the table is richly diverse and strong. I have to share a memory you stirred when I read your piece. My mother was good friends with a woman who applied for an admin. assist. position at Princeton University. I believe it was working beside the President, which in this particular roll was not designed for 'a woman'. However, she moved in certain social circles and as a favor to someone or others friend, she was granted an interview. Although polite, they did not go easy on her, and at the end of the hour, the president asked why on earth he should hire her when there were so many others much more experienced in the workings of this prestigious university? Without missing a beat she said she was more than capable of setting a beautiful table, complete with a centerpiece of her own design. Gather the family of five together at the same time and serve a delicious meal with the wine and salad chilled, as well as the soup, entree' and side dishes hot. Dessert, of course, is waiting on the buffet with a pot of perfectly brewed coffee. There was a pause. She was hired on the spot. :)


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Christina M

2/18/2018 2:32 PM

YES! Love this chapter for so many reasons but I will talk about one: When I was working in Special Education we, as a group of educators, therapists, parents and social workers, would try to see the students needs individually but it wasn't always easy to do so. We all had to brain-smash, for lack of a better word our ideas, all of them, together to "think outside the box" from all the experiences we all had over the years dealing with different issues with different students to find the best solution to an ongoing problem in learning or communicating.We always exchanged ideas and workshops we had attended together and separately to bring to the table. I was fortunate enough to incorporate this in my own life with rearing my own children. We never give up on trying to solve issues with experience and learning new and different things. It also enriches our lives as we go, like this book club. Thank you, Heather and Tracey!

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