Daring Greatly

diver

This blogging project has been great fun and a huge learning experience. It’s been more work than I realized, but the moments of connection it’s facilitated have made it worth it.

Thank you for your engagement. I deeply appreciate all of it, but I can’t go on this way.

Some of you respect my experience and abilities far too much than is warranted and I’ve let that go to my head. I thought I could chart the path toward making a Blue Ocean family while I discovered it myself, but I’m wrong.

Sometimes I feel brave and experienced as I chart the parenting waters.

Sometimes I feel lost and ignorant and supremely unqualified to write a parenting blog.

I am a brave explorer with valuable experience that can help others, but since this blog is about creating your own blue ocean, how can I think I should or could give you a map?

I’ve struggled since the beginning to put into words what I’m doing with this blog and what I hope to inspire in my readers.

How do we think deeply about my choices as a parent while respecting the choices of others and at the same time avoid the trap of saying it doesn’t matter what we choose?

I just finished Daring Greatly by Brené Brown and could jump for joy because she nails it.

This blog is about daring greatly in parenting.

From the book:

“To me the questions of parenting values is about engagement. Are we paying attention? Thinking through our choices? Open to learning and being wrong? Curious and willing to ask questions? What I’ve learned from my work is that there are a million ways out in the world to be a wonderful, engaged parent, and some of them are going to bump up against what I personally think about parenting. . . I think the key is remembering that when other parents make different choice than we’re making, it’s not necessarily criticism. Daring greatly means finding our own path and respecting what that search looks like for other folks.

 

“I’m not a parenting expert. In fact, I’m not sure that I even believe in the idea of “parenting experts.” I’m an engaged, imperfect parent and a passionate researcher. . . I’m an experienced mapmaker and a stumbling traveler. Like many of you, parenting is by far my boldest and most daring adventure.”

I can wholeheartedly say the above for myself, except that I’m not an experienced mapmaker.

So Mom, don’t worry. I won’t give up blogging. I’m just changing the tone. I’m a stumbling traveler.

Sometimes I’ll extract lessons from my explorations and sometimes I’ll just share my struggles to dare greatly as a parent.

Together we can ask tough questions, engage deeply with our families, and share the joys and tears along the way.

Together we can dare greatly. (Now go read the book!)

Value Proposition

Why Blue Ocean Families?

Believe it or not, I still wrestle with this question.

As part of my struggle to define what it’s about, I’ve developed a “value proposition” designed to help the casual viewer get an idea of what Blue Ocean Families is about.

Current version:

Blue Ocean Families

Family life. Tailor Fit.

 

Proposed new version:

Blue Ocean Families

We see parents as leaders and children as capable.
We help parents with vision build a family culture aligned with their deepest values, one step at a time.

Your opinion is valued! What do you think?

Does it capture the value you see in Blue Ocean Families blog? Does it excite you to learn more? Is something missing?

Thanks for your help and your honest opinion!

Support for Parents on the Road Less Traveled

woman on path

I recently spent an hour in a room of other mothers while the dads looked after our kids. We shared our trials and triumphs and I came away revived.

We were a diverse bunch. Some worked outside the home and some were at home full-time. Some lived in large homes, and some chose small living. Some sent their kids to private school, others believed in public education, and some homeschooled. The list of differences could go on.

I wondered why it was so encouraging to be with these women when each of our lives looked so very different.

My husband put it this way: “It’s encouraging to be with other fathers who think deeply about family life.”

One Passion. Different Paths.

Each woman thought deeply about her role in shaping her family and the passion and care for family life was palpable, even though many of us were overwhelmed.

Each took her choices seriously, but none pushed her solutions on others. We were there to share and support.

Personalized Solutions

I’m proud of how I organize kids’ clothes, mostly because it used to be a disaster that resulted in half-day sorting sessions that left me exhausted and low on patience.

Now each of the kids has one drawer for clothes and one hook by the door for jackets. The clothes that aren’t in current use are organized by type in drawers in our bedroom. When a child outgrows a pair of pants I return it to the pant drawer and pull out the next-larger pair.

I’m proud of my system for kids’ clothes, but I’m aware that it’s not universally applicable.

I know a mother who receives lots of clothes from relatives. She uses the new clothes for a while then passes them on to a good home.

My minimalistic clothing solution would be unnecessarily stressful to her, as she would have to decide how to pare down and risk offending relatives by asking them not to buy so many clothes.

We all have to organize kid clothes, but each of our situations calls for a different solution.

That seems obvious, but how often have you felt guilty that you don’t do something the way another mother does because it works so elegantly for her?

How often have others pushed their solutions on you, when you knew it wouldn’t be right for your family?

Advice is usually well-meant, but often it undermines rather than supports our work as mothers.

We All Need Support

At our mommy-meeting a normally confident and care-free mother was shaken by an experience where a friend had pushed a particular solution hard on her. She polled the other mothers to see if she was alone in her conviction. Each mother had a different take on the topic, but all agreed she shouldn’t feel guilty about sticking with what works for her family.

At Blue Ocean Families I want to strike the balance of sharing specific solutions that might be helpful while at the same time emphasizing that no solution fits everyone.

Each family is the best judge of what works for them.

My hope for this blog is that it is a place where parents can share their solutions and thoughts while respecting the fact that the solutions and thoughts of others will be vastly different.

Even confident mothers can be shaken when they take the road less traveled.

Here we can encourage each other to be strong in our family journeys and be inspired by the variety of solutions!

About Blue Ocean Families

After writing my scathing critique of entertainment I realized I missed something important. I’ll share more about that next week, but for now, it’s time to pause and reflect on what I’m doing with this blog.

Two days ago I was almost ready to call it quits. Surely my kids need me more than the world needs another blogger, but I didn’t let myself get out of my Friday deadline so easily and instead forced myself to re-define my purpose and find clarity. The result is renewed energy and a new “About” page, so this week’s post is the reveal of my new About page. Comments welcome.

blue ocean boat

Why Blue Ocean Families?

One day I watched a lecture on Blue Ocean Strategy for businesses, not because I know anything about business (I don’t), but because the words “blue ocean” sounded lovely and I could not fathom how anything lovely could be connected to a business strategy (I told you I don’t know anything about business). I watched enthralled, not because I was inspired to start a business, but because I couldn’t help thinking how all of it applied so beautifully to family life. It sounds crazy, but I couldn’t let the idea go.

After the better part of a year I decided to start this blog to explore and develop how Blue Ocean Strategy could be adapted to fit family life. It is a place for me to organize my thoughts and receive feedback from other thoughtful families.

In a nutshell:

Blue Ocean Strategy: Don’t beat the competition, make it irrelevant.

The creators of Blue Ocean Strategy illustrate their idea by envisioning traditional markets as a bloody red ocean of cut-throat competition. They propose that businesses should leave this deadly environment and carve out untapped market space (i.e. a customer base nobody else is reaching). They call this unique market space a blue ocean and explain how to create one in any industry.

Blue Ocean Families: Turn the competition into community.

The red ocean is where we try to keep up with the Joneses and fight the mommy wars. A blue ocean family doesn’t follow the status quo, but celebrates and develops its uniqueness while living in community with other families.

How can we leave this frantic modern life and carve out a peaceful blue ocean for our families?

I don’t have the answers, and I see only dimly the path before me. I treasure your company on the journey.

Please leave a comment or use the private feedback form to let me know what you think and share your ideas. I’d love to hear from you!

I wish you gentle breezes and smooth sailing!

Blue Ocean Creation Step One: Eliminate

Let’s go back to step one of the Four Actions Framework for creating a Blue Ocean: Eliminate. It’s hard to expand our thinking enough to identify something we could cut altogether. What part of parenting can we possibly cut? Food? Education? Potty training? It seems at first glance that the jobs that go with parenting are a given and we just have to accept them. I’m sure it looks that way for businesses, too. Who could imagine a circus without animals? Yet Cirque du Soleil eliminated animal performers and I doubt anyone has left a show thinking it was lacking a special something because it didn’t have animals.

Even if we could be imaginative enough to think of a standard part of parenting that we might choose to eliminate, the worst is yet to come. Cutting is even scarier than reducing. If we choose to reduce we might just look like we’re struggling to get it all done. Others might react with pity saying “Aw, that poor Mom, she’s so stressed she can’t manage to pack her kids a lunch.” If we eliminate something it will most likely be apparent to all, and we’ll have to answer the questions and bear up under the disapproving looks. Such social consequences can be especially difficult to take when we ourselves are unsure we have made the right choice. In my short years of parenting I’ve already learned the lesson that there are no guarantees and every choice comes with risk. It’s a scary business, yet there is no safe place of protection. Even if we go along with the norms of our time it will not shelter us from the scorn of the next generation decrying our inhumane practices. Life is risky. Let’s face the fact bravely.

From the book, Blue Ocean Strategy,

“No company . . . can afford to be a riverboat gambler. And no company should.”

They emphasize “creating blue oceans in a smart and responsible way that is both opportunity maximizing and risk minimizing.”

I’m still reading through the book and have lots of work to do to translate how it applies to families, but the warning against gambling is more important for families than for business. Businesses are finite. Every company, every organization, and every country will one day come to an end. The family’s business of making and shaping people is of utmost – and I believe eternal – importance. Even if you don’t believe in the afterlife, clearly raising children well is of great importance to you or you wouldn’t be reading this!

So how do we eliminate a commonly accepted “necessity” of parenting without being fools?

How do we continue to live socially in our communities when our choices set us apart?

There is so much more to explore and discover. Do you have questions or thoughts? Please share in the comments. I’d love to hear your perspective!

Blue Ocean Strategy: The Inspiration for Blue Ocean Families

My blue and red ocean visions were inspired by the concept of Blue Ocean Strategy for businesses. I watched a summary created by The Great Courses, and immediately thought of how it could apply to families.

 “Blue ocean strategy challenges companies to break out of the red ocean of bloody competition by creating uncontested market space that makes the competition irrelevant.”

I’m currently reading the book Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space And Make The Competition Irrelevant. Naturally, not everything about how a business is run can or should map to families, but I’ll talk more about the parallels and differences later. For now, I’ll share the four basic steps that lead to creating a blue ocean of market space called the Four Actions Framework.

Eliminate – Which of the factors that the industry takes for granted should be eliminated?

Reduce – Which factors should be reduced well below the industry’s standard?

Raise – Which factors should be raised well above the industry’s standard?

Create – Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered?

An example might be the easiest way to grasp the basic concept. Cirque du Soleil left the bloody red ocean of the circus market and created its own vast and profitable blue ocean as follows:

Eliminate – star performers, animal shows, aisle concession sales, multiple show arenas

Reduce – fun and humor, thrill and danger

Raise – unique venue (vs. the three-ring circus)

Create – theme, refined environment, multiple productions, artistic music and dance

Eliminating animals was a particularly bold and brilliant stroke.   What’s a circus without animals? Clearly essential to the industry, yet expensive to keep and many potential customers have moral objections to keeping trained animals. It was an unthinkable thing to cut, but it worked!

Did you catch that? Success came from cutting what was deemed essential be everyone else.

I believe the same applies to families. It makes no sense to try to do everything. Can we have the strength to cut something others think is essential for the sake of building our own unique family culture?

Little More Than A Vision

Picture two oceans. One is teeming with angry red waves. The other is a vast and peaceful blue. In my vision the Red Ocean represents the competitive and cut-throat world of parenting. It represents all that is nasty about the Mommy Wars. It’s where worn-out parents struggle to keep their heads above (the red) water and constantly worry if they are doing enough for their kids. It’s where everyone is striving to be Super Mom, but it’s not possible, so desperate parents turn and tear down a mom who looks like Super Mom instead.

Now picture the Blue Ocean. This peaceful haven is a place where just one family swims and where each family member can thrive. They have room and laughter, and time to explore and expand. They threaten no one because they chose to leave the Red Ocean and carve out space to make their very own Blue Ocean.

The best thing is, there isn’t just one Blue Ocean for one special family. There isn’t just a hundred Blue Oceans for the elite. Every family can choose to create a Blue Ocean and leave the Red Ocean behind forever.

How do you create a Blue Ocean – a unique family culture – where each member has the freedom to thrive AND where success helps others rather than threatens them?

That’s the question I want to explore in this blog. It’s little more than a vision now, but if you find the idea intriguing, then please join me on my journey!

Next Up: The four basic elements required to create a Blue Ocean for your family. They are deceptively simple!