Apprentice Organizational Theorist
Professional Communications, Inc.
In my last blog I reported how I helped Dr. Salton—I call him Umpah—define the foundations that underlie his “I Opt” theory. I told him how I figured out what “things” were. I showed him how I was able to group these things and come up with other things—like “people.” I told how I discovered that I could make things I want to happen actually happen. Finally, I described how I could use patterns to learn things without having to do them myself.
Umpah listened to me and gave my discoveries big names. He called them things like generalization, causation, abstraction and modeling. Umpah likes big names. I told him that big names were okay as long as he remembered that these were just tools. He told me that my next job was to use these tools.
One of the first things I noticed as I entered my second year was a new pattern. Things happen in sequence. First Mommy talked. Then Daddy talked. Then Mommy talked again. I told Umpah about this. He was impressed. He said that I was building new “objects.” In my first year the objects were physical things that were defined by their edges. I had now discovered how to replace the edges with events. This let me see patterns in the relationship of things.
Umpah said that relationship patterns were called interactions rather than objects. But the principal was the same. He said I could put these together the same way I did physical things. I could then construct the situations that I wanted to participate in. The “I Opt” styles I would use as a grownup would depend on where I decided to put the event “edges” on relationship patterns. That was a lot for a 2-year old to chew on. I told Umpah to put it back in the cooker and see what it looks like when it is done.
As I progressed in my second year I spent a lot more time playing. I was gradually able to use my muscles more exactly to do what I wanted done. That led to an interesting discovery. I noticed that if I moved a toy one way, it played music. If I moved it another way, nothing happened. I told Umpah about this. He said that I had discovered experimentation—another tool. It is a way of figuring out what is going to happen by trying it on a small scale. I told him that I’d keep it around but now wanted to learn how to make things work without having to test them each time.
Chloe wrote in her Growing Up with “I Opt” blog that she used Umpah’s spontaneous RS strategy in her first year as a way of surveying her environment. I did the same thing. Really it is the only way you can figure out the scope of the world you were born into. What I did different from Chloe was to try to figure out the building block tools that it generated the style. Now I wondered how these tools would help me get to the second development phase that she reported—the methodical LP strategy.
The answer came as I progressed through my second year. I found that things held my attention longer than they used to. I wondered why. Umpah said that it was probably because I was actually using the tools that I had discovered. He said my neural network was growing (more big words!). Bigger networks just take longer to navigate. He said I was able to focus on things longer because I had more things to think about.
I thought about Umpah’s speculation. I think he is right. I can now figure out when something is really new to me. I have ways of figuring out how to get it to do what I want. I can use things that worked in the past. A little experimentation can tell me if I’m right or wrong. Putting these and my other tools to use—the stuff; Umpah calls causation, generalization, experimentation and so on—means I have more things to think about. Umpah says that big people call this attention span. He said it is not something you teach. You get longer attention spans because you have use for them.
Okay, but what is that use? The only use I can think of is that these tools help me to both predict and affect my future. That means I can arrange things so I get more of what I want. And the things I want right now is to know how to tie my shoes, feed myself without help, open things by myself and put on my own clothes. I have the tools. I have the attention span. All I need is to learn the sequence of actions— the procedure. Umpah says that that is why I’m going to be using the Logical Processor style in my next phase. It’s going to help me get what I want when I want it.
And I think I’ve figured out a way to get a jump on the game. Umpah got me a Lego set with a boy and girl for Christmas. He also got me a figurine of Dora the Explorer and her pet Boots. I knew about Dora from TV and I’ve been to the playground with other kids. So I kind of knew how little people behaved. So I started pretending that Lego Boy and Lego Girl and Dora were playing together.
Aunt Shannon—that’s what I call our CEO—made me a little playground on her window sill. She used plastic spoons to build a teeter-totter, the pull-string tied to the window handle as a swing and kind of a bowl for a merry-go-round. I had great fun pretending that my toy people were playing at a real park. I asked Umpah why this was so much fun.
He said that I was testing out things that may happen in the future. He said I was figuring out how the new things I discovered—the stuff he called interactions—worked together. He said that big people call this simulation. It’s kind of an experiment without the need to actually do the stuff. He said that I was testing the procedures I might use in real life. Playing let me test a lot of things faster than by actually doing them. Playing is really just practicing stuff.
A lot of things are beginning to make sense to me now. I like Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer and cartoons because they tell simple stories. They are teaching me structure—how “objects” in my world relate to each other. The duck game I played with Umpah now makes sense. He would give me a stuffed duck; I threw it down; he picked it up and gave it back. I threw it down again. He picked it up again. He was teaching me about patterns of interaction.
Coming to work with Mommy taught me that that where you are matters. The rules were different from those at home. You have to use different structures—different patterns of activity—in different places. The TV shows, coming to work with Mommy and playing “duck” with Umpah were all preparing me to develop the procedures. I figured out that procedures are just purposeful forms of structure. I will be building on this in my next phase of growth.
There is one thing I’m still puzzling over. When I was very little I would hear music and rock in a particular way. Everybody at work got real excited when I did that. They called it the Fiona Shuffle. I liked the praise. I repeated it. In the process I got pretty good at it. I asked Umpah if this would have any effect on the kinds of things I’m learning about in “I Opt.” He said maybe.
Umpah told me that all of the tools I had learned about were just ideas in my head—he called them mental constructs (more big words). He said that the same idea could be interpreted with words, pictures or by how things felt to my senses (he called them visual, auditory and kinesthetic just to show off). He said that words tend to be precise and definitive—kind of like formulas that give you one result. Pictures tend to be expansive—he said that you can look at the same picture and see different things at different times. Kinesthetic understanding kind of combines words and pictures. You get to use more variables than are available with words but fewer than are contained in pictures. How much we stress one or the other will affect the kind of options we’ll consider in addressing life’s issues. He said everyone uses all three of these approaches.
Umpah said he did not know how much I would come to rely on any one of these modes. He said he did not know how much getting praised for the Fiona Shuffle would affect me but he thought it would have some effect. I guess big people do a lot of things without really knowing what they are doing. We little people just have to do the best we can with what we get.
I thought I’d conclude this blog by trying to extend Umpah’s theory. After all, I am an apprentice organizational theorist.
There is a picture above Mommy’s desk of an alien that I really liked since I was little. Below it is a framed statement of Umpah’s Alien Hypothesis. It claims that “I Opt” is universal. It does not say why.
I got to thinking about the stuff I discovered in my first two years of life. It seems to me that any living creature would have to learn about the tools I discovered just to live. They have to learn to define objects, generalize, abstract and cause things to happen. The only way anyone can use these tools is through Umpah’s basic “I Opt” process—method (input), mode (output) and process (linking). Successful strategies will tend to be repeated. “I Opt” styles are merely patterns of behavior that repeat. That means that—in one form or another—styles will automatically appear. This means that we will find the principles underlying “I Opt” everywhere that we find life anywhere in the universe. The only limit is that the laws of physics that we understand has to apply. “I Opt” may not work in a multi-verse where causation is not applicable
When I grow up and can use big words I just might try to explain exactly how this works. But that will have to wait. For now I’ve got to work on how to tie my shoes—first things first.