For over 30 years I have been an owner, partner or manager in a number of large scale projects in the Southwest, including some of the highest profile.
I am also a second time around father. I have a son and daughter 31 and 32 respectively, and identical twin, almost four-year old daughters who are mixed race, beautiful inside and out.
Over the past 15 years I’ve had the good fortune to be a mentor in three different men’s groups. These are organizations of successful men that have one thing in common: the phenomenal coverage to set their egos aside to personally challenge themselves to be better men. Men in their 20s 30s 40s, all the way up to men in their 80s. I’ve found a common story to every single one, confronting pain that they experienced as young children. Having this wisdom, every fiber of my being wanted my daughters to come from a better place.
About a year ago I turned my exclusive focus to parent and preschool education, though it’s been an interest and passion of mine since my oldest children were born.
When my twins were two and a half, we were at an airport waiting to take a flight. I was explaining to them how the plane would pull up, jetway be extended, and people on the plane would walk through the gate door.
This is who they naturally are: on their own, they walked up to the door and with Beautiful smiles, waved at every person who got off that plane. In that moment in my mind the airport became silent as I was completely caught up in their wonderful innocence and magic.
As I reflected later on the beautiful relationship they have with the world, how they relate to the world, and the world back to them, the daddy in me imagined them in their early teens, still developing their fragile self esteems, beautiful, and surrounded by friends because of their magic personalties. I couldn’t help but think about our current world and envisioned another child, in that fragile moment, feeling jealousy at my daughters relationship with the world, and lashing out at them with words to hurt them about their ethnicity. I then pondered “How can I be there to protect that beautiful relationship they have with the world – when I can’t be there.” It was obvious to me that no amount of thinking would provide a solution to such a dilemma.
I started looking for preschools the following month, but was shocked to discover Little had changed in preschools from when my oldest son and daughter had attended, especially in light of the abundance of research and findings that exist that can have life changing consequences for children if taught in their earliest years.
About the same time, I had a serious health scare. It was inevitable that thoughts of “What if I only have a short time to live?” would come to mind. The gift that precipitates out of that line of thinking is the discreet illumination of what’s important. It was my daughters, and if the education that could make such a profound positive change for young children didn’t exist, that I should use my decades of large scale project management experience to make it a reality.
Fortunately, the health scare was just a scare, but truly a gift to ‘”Follow my Bliss.”
I threw all my spare time, when I wasn’t otherwise raising my daughters as a single parent, into developing a team, and reaching out to the brightest and most respected minds in early childhood research, disciplines like:
• Authoritative Parenting,
• Social Emotional Learning (SEL),
• Theory of Mind,
• Executive Function,
and much more, often researchers with generations of research still primarily in academic journals – In pursuit of that effort, we came across the Harvard Study of Adult Development, possibly the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. The conclusion 75 years after it started?
“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier, period.*”
And the single best contributor to the quality of your relationships? Empathy. Not only is it the best predictor of happiness, but the basis of Social, Emotional Learning (SEL) – and research shows that SEL possibly more important than IQ for your child’s general success in school, work, life in general.
Then I had an epiphany: thinking back to my dilemma regarding my daughters, “How can I be there to protect that beautiful relationship – when I can’t be there.” I replayed the scene in my mind, and thought if we could give the gifts of this research to millions of children, teaching their parents Authoritative Parenting, and Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and Theory of Mind, and Executive Function, and much more, AND Empathy, maybe, just maybe, that child that might otherwise have lashed out to hurt my daughters, might instead come up and introduce themselves and start a beautiful relationship.
That is why we are doing this work. To legitimately change the world. Join us. Let’s do this together.
*Robert Waldinger is the Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history, presented in his TED Talk “What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness” that is approaching 22,600,000 views.