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Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Kimi & Shaun - On Top of the World!

A little bit about Phil Biegler

By many accounts, I was a model student - good grades, didn't get in trouble, did my homework regularly, etc. I grew up in NYC and went through the public schools during the worst of the budget crisis (NYC nearly went bankrupt in the 1970's). I didn't love school; sometimes I hated it, sometimes I liked it. I had many teachers who made a major positive impression on me, and many more who made my life difficult. I went to an 'exam' high school (Brooklyn Technical High School) - I had to take an entrance exam to get into the school. I went to college - majored in computer science because I was told that was a good field to get into since I was good in math and science.

I went to work in the corporate world - worked on Wall Street for nearly 10 years. Of course, I always assumed my kids would follow in my footsteps, especially since my wife Christine and I both had college degrees.

As I moved into first line management, I found myself focusing on how to treat staff - rejecting some of what I was seeing modeled around me. Some of my first actions: (1) put people into jobs that they wanted to be in, and that they could succeed in; (2) pay attention to them, and be available when they needed me; (3) provide guidance and advice, but let them make decisions and learn from their mistakes; and (4) focus on them as people, and treat them with respect. The first group I took over management of was transformed in less than a year from a poorly performing group into a well respected organization. I was proud of them, and pleased with my actions. I learned a tremendous amount.

As Kimi suffered through school (she got good grades in good schools in good school districts, but she was miserable), we struggled with how to make things better for her. Fortunately, Christine spent time researching solutions, and came upon unschooling. It was a difficult transition for me initially - after all, school had helped me get to where I was, and we were pretty happy with where I was - but the first year we unschooled Kimi's life changed dramatically for the better. Same with Shaun, even though at the time it seemed like it was on a smaller scale. It didn't take long to see that the lesson I learned in the corporate world was embodied in the unschooling lifestyle that we were adopting.

Now I find myself in the corporate world, living the corporate life, managing skilled professionals, and seeing the parallels between how I treat my staff and how we treat our family (with some obvious differences). I find that the principles of respect, integrity and honesty are important; that treating people the way they want to be treated, and embracing differences, leads to growth and development; and that everyone has strengths, weaknesses, interests, desires, and their own definition of happiness and success, and that their views on these matters is more important than what I might want.