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Three Little Engines

From Bob McKinnon comes this modern retelling of the beloved classic, Little Engine that Could, that asks young readers, “How does your journey differ from others?” It also serves as a thank you letter to all the parents, teachers, role models, and even strangers, who help to clear the storm or pull the tree trunk from their track.

Available in your favorite bookstores.

The Work of
Bob McKinnon

This website features the work of Bob McKinnon. He is a writer, designer, podcast host, children’s author and teacher. What unites all of his work is the desire to help others move up in life – just as others have helped him. Learn more about Bob and his work in the About section of this website.

Three Little Engines

I think I can, I think I can, I think I… can’t?  What’s an Engine to do when even believing in yourself won’t get you to the top of the mountain? In this modern retelling of the beloved The Little Engine That Could, The Little Blue Engine and her friends attempt to reach the town on the other side of the mountain, but they quickly realize that not every engine is on the same track, and they all face different obstacles in their journey. In Three Little Engines author Bob McKinnon asks young readers: How does your journey differ from others?

While paying homage to the beloved classic, author Bob McKinnon acknowledges that although positive thinking and confidence are important, they are not always enough to help you succeed. In many instances, success requires a helping hand. This book is a gentle introduction to the idea of socioeconomic mobility and inequality in America. Heavily inspired by his own experiences, McKinnon teaches the youngest of readers how to recognize opportunity and inequality in the American Dream, and, most importantly, how to extend a helping hand to those on different tracks of life. At its heart, Three Little Engines is a thank you letter to all the parents, teachers, role models, and even strangers, who help to clear the storm or pull the tree trunk from your track.

Three Little Engines is now a New York Times best seller!  Order your copy today from your favorite online bookseller or your local bookstore:

 

See “The life lessons of Three Little Engines” featured on CBS Sunday Morning

What is Your American Dream Score

What is Your American Dream Score?

Spend five minutes taking this quiz, and you’ll find out what factors were working in your favor and what you had to overcome to get where you are today. At the end, you’ll receive an overall score and a personalized summary of the results (and probably a big dose of pride and gratitude).

Blog

Negotiation

It was Thanksgiving Day. My daughter wanted apple pie and asked her mother to get it for her. My brother-in-law noted that he had read some parenting advice from Esther Wojcicki that suggested children should be encouraged to do whatever they can for themselves.

As Wojcicki had raised two CEOs and a doctor, the joke became – future CEOs get their own pie.

For the next three hours, no one budged. My daughter was threatening to not go to bed until she got her pie. My wife refused to give in.

There were attempts to negotiate. Other people offered to get the pie. But the offers were refused. A threat to get the pie but have it be just the tiniest of slivers were rebuffed.

Eventually, after most people had gone home, my wife made her move. She cut the pie but did not bring it to her, instead leaving it on the kitchen table. So technically she did not bring her the pie.

My immediate response was frustration. What started off as something silly had turned into what I perceived as my daughter’s stubbornness winning – reinforcing a behavior we’d like to see less of.

I read the situation as a failed negotiation which my wife had lost. But upon further reflection and a little bit of research, I realized that I had completely misread the situation.

I looked up the definition of “negotiate.” It means simply to “find a way over or through (an obstacle or difficult path).” or “try to reach an agreement or compromise by discussion with others.”

Nowhere in the definition does it imply that negotiating is about “winning or losing.” Yet for many that has become the ultimate goal of any negotiation.

To ask who won or lost is shortsighted. If the goal is “to find a way” or “to reach an agreement” then why would we want any negotiation to end with one side holding ill will?

In labor disputes, like the one I’m currently involved in, I hear language that talks about keeping up the fight, or “we have to win this,” sides cast aspersions saying the other side is evil or assuming the worst intentions of every move.

What gets lost in this vitriol is the purpose. To come to an agreement that all parties can feel good about.

Both my wife and daughter wanted to be happy. No one wanted to end Thanksgiving with a fight.

So my daughter got her pie, but still had to get up to go get it. Everyone got a little of what they wanted.

Sometimes in a negotiation, we simply need to take a step back and ask ourselves, “what would make both sides happy?” Instead of “how can I win this negotiation” wonder “how do we find a way through this that both sides can feel good about?”


See all posts from Moving Up Mondays blog

Monday Morning Notes

Delivered to your mailbox each Monday morning, these short notes offer an opportunity each week to reflect on who and what contributes to where we end up in life. Readers tell us it’s a great way to start their week on a positive note. See the latest note below:

Negotiation

It was Thanksgiving Day. My daughter wanted apple pie and asked her mother to get it for her. My brother-in-law noted that he had read some parenting advice from Esther Wojcicki that suggested children should be encouraged to do whatever they can for themselves.

As Wojcicki had raised two CEOs and a doctor, the joke became – future CEOs get their own pie.

For the next three hours, no one budged. My daughter was threatening to not go to bed until she got her pie. My wife refused to give in.

There were attempts to negotiate. Other people offered to get the pie. But the offers were refused. A threat to get the pie but have it be just the tiniest of slivers were rebuffed.

Eventually, after most people had gone home, my wife made her move. She cut the pie but did not bring it to her, instead leaving it on the kitchen table. So technically she did not bring her the pie.

My immediate response was frustration. What started off as something silly had turned into what I perceived as my daughter’s stubbornness winning – reinforcing a behavior we’d like to see less of.

I read the situation as a failed negotiation which my wife had lost. But upon further reflection and a little bit of research, I realized that I had completely misread the situation.

I looked up the definition of “negotiate.” It means simply to “find a way over or through (an obstacle or difficult path).” or “try to reach an agreement or compromise by discussion with others.”

Nowhere in the definition does it imply that negotiating is about “winning or losing.” Yet for many that has become the ultimate goal of any negotiation.

To ask who won or lost is shortsighted. If the goal is “to find a way” or “to reach an agreement” then why would we want any negotiation to end with one side holding ill will?

In labor disputes, like the one I’m currently involved in, I hear language that talks about keeping up the fight, or “we have to win this,” sides cast aspersions saying the other side is evil or assuming the worst intentions of every move.

What gets lost in this vitriol is the purpose. To come to an agreement that all parties can feel good about.

Both my wife and daughter wanted to be happy. No one wanted to end Thanksgiving with a fight.

So my daughter got her pie, but still had to get up to go get it. Everyone got a little of what they wanted.

Sometimes in a negotiation, we simply need to take a step back and ask ourselves, “what would make both sides happy?” Instead of “how can I win this negotiation” wonder “how do we find a way through this that both sides can feel good about?”

Attribution with Bob McKinnon

Attribution is a podcast, where people from all walks of life, reflect on who and what has contributed to where they ended up. Our hope is after each episode, you feel a little more inspired, grateful, or supported, then when you first hit play. Check out the latest episode below:

Episode 19: Acceptance w/ Emi Nietfeld


Emi Nietfeld is author of Acceptance: A Memoir. Her essays have appeared in New York Times, Longreads, Vice, and Boulevard. This was an incredibly moving and important conversation – one I hope you’ll listen to in its entirety as the ending is particularly poignant.

This episode contains descriptions or mentions of eating disorders, mental health issues, and sexual abuse which some listeners may find disturbing. Listener discretion is advised. If you or someone you know might be experiencing any of these issues, please reach out to the appropriate local resources/authorities. Here are some national organizations also providing support.  National Eating Disorder Association., National Alliance on Mental Illness, RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network)

Links to learn more about:  Emi Nietfeld, Acceptance, Horatio Alger Association