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EP 011 / 23.12.2020


Farah Nanji: 0:00


You're listening to the Mission Makers show, a podcast that inspires humans to get into the mindset of success. My name is Farah Nanji, and I'm the founder of a business in the Motorsports industry that explores leadership lessons from things like Formula One. I'm also a DJ and music producer in the underground electronic scene, and a public speaker on key topics like resilience, building high performance teams, overcoming learning difficulties and stimulating creativity. And to tie it all together, I love writing thought provoking content as a journalist for these industries, which is so unique in themselves. On this show, I'm sitting down with some of the most inspiring and driven people I've met around the world to talk about their processes, their failures, the lessons they've learned, and how they're truly making an impact for this world.


So guys, today is the final episode of Mission Makers, season one. So my guest today had to be someone really, really special. So I decided to invite my sister onto the show, not only because it's Christmas, and it's all about family, but because the mission she's devoted herself to so selflessly is around unlocking children's potential through the Montessori method. And this magical method is centred heavily around consciousness and observing what children naturally gravitate towards, and then guiding them to achieve, as my sister says, the inner secret mission that nature has given us. The early years are so pivotal in our development of who we become that 90% of who we are today, is formed by the age of five. And these form our values, they form our respect, our empathy, and our foundation. And this is so important in who we become. In this episode, we talk a lot about such a deep and personal subject of unlocking our childhood, and how best to nurture the future generations. Just before we begin, if you're interested in watching the video version of this podcast, head over to YouTube and type in Mission Makers, Sabeen Nanji, to see the show,


How are you doing today? Thanks so much for doing the show, we're really excited to have you on.


Sabeen Nanji: 2:20  


I am so happy to be here. It's such an honour that you want to speak to me and I can be a part of this. So excited for you. Thank you so much. 


Farah Nanji: 2:30


There will be loads of people that will be so excited to hear from you, not only as my sister, but as somebody who is really inspiring in achieving her own mission in life, which is centred around children in growth mindsets. So I think there's a lot that our listeners are going to learn from you today. So let's dive straight in. Tell us, how did your passion for working with children begin? 


Sabeen Nanji: 2:59


So it's actually really interesting, because this wasn't something that I planned in my life. And I was finishing up my degree at university, I studied psychology with philosophy. And near the end of my degree, I had a really strong interest in child psychology. And I wanted to make a difference to children and learn more about it. So I thought I would probably go on to do a master's and a PhD and become an educational psychologist. And then at the same time, our parents, particularly our mom, were telling me, Well, why don't you give the Montessori course a go? because that is an amazing way that you can make such a difference to children's lives. Yeah. And because I was really young, I was 21 at the time. And you know, I wasn't exactly sure which path I would be going down. So mom suggested I do this course, because it was at the moon at that time, it was over three summers, rather than a whole year. So I didn't want to. And I was free to make a different decision in my life. So I went and I started about two weeks after my finals at uni, and I sat in that room and something just came over me which I've never felt so strongly in my life, this deep sense of purpose and just this deep respect and appreciation for this woman who's created such a revolution in education. And since that moment, this love and desire to work with children and to be in Montessori has just become stronger and stronger over time. And it's at times as long as all consuming how much I love doing our work and be a part of it. So that's sort of where it began. But at the same time, the story actually goes much further back because when I was doing my course it made me start reflecting back on my childhood experiences. And I was particularly lucky because when mom did her diploma, she did it Institute enhanced it and they at the time had the children's house downstairs. So I was lucky enough to go to Montessori as a child, and, and I remember when I was doing my course, I started just feeling so overwhelmed that I had this experience in my life and how much it shaped the rest of my path. Because I was lucky enough that when I left, all of my experience in education went really, really well. And I was, and I really loved learning and I love being in school. And I loved everything about being around other people. And I know how much space just sets me up for success. And that's sort of where it began for me.


Farah Nanji: 5:33


You've already alluded to it there, with dad and mum. But do you think that it chose you or you chose it because we do run a family business in Montessori today?


Sabeen Nanji: 5:44


So I think I definitely would have found Montessori at some point in my life, but I don't, it definitely wouldn't have happened at 21 years old. I think it would have happened much later on. Because it's a sort of mission that is so deep, and it's so big, that you have to be really ready to go into it and to do it authentically. So I think I would have found my way eventually, but maybe 10/20 years later, I think and I particularly like my parents when I did my course they were much older, you could see that they made such a conscious decision and made many sacrifices to be able to do this work. So yeah, I think it's a bit of both of them. Yeah, very interesting. 


Farah Nanji: 6:00


And so for those listening today, who may not be aware of Montessori, could you tell us a little bit about who she was and what her vision was in life? 


Sabeen Nanji: 6:10


So I think to summarise, Montessori is honestly one of the hardest things because it's something you have to see in action, and you have to see it in a place, which really is authentic. And so to capture it, I think the essence is that every human being kind of similar to this podcast, has a mission, an inner, an inner secret mission that nature has given to it. And that mission is within that human being that potential is unlike any other animal because we could be born in any country in the world, and absorb the qualities of that culture, that time and that space, and we have the potential to become anything that we wish to be. And for that potential to be unreleased, to be released, and to unfold in the way in which nature intended. You need to have a supportive environment around you, that's to flourish. And so to summarise some discoveries to really enable the human being to unfold as nature intended, and to be in an environment, which gently guides that potential out of that human being. So really deeply understanding who is this unique human being? Why are they here? What is their mission, and you can see that at age three, these qualities that personality traits come through so strongly within that person. And when you're following that life, in a way that's in accordance to the inner drives, that a human being feels so deeply supported, so motivated, so eager to learn, it's incredible the things that they can achieve. And like my age, and a bit about Montessori herself, so she was an Italian educated, born in Rome, almost 150 years ago. And she was a Pioneer Woman at a time because she completely wanted to challenge the status quo of the educational system. She was one of the first Italian doctors, which was not an easy task for her to get onto that programme. And then after some time, she started working with young children. And she was given an opportunity to set up the school for young children because the workers in this complex and into development, the children were sort of running wild. And somebody approached her to ask her to just make a place for children. She has been quite widely known about her work, particularly in the special needs children. And from there, she opened at what we call the children's house for Cassidy bambini. And she didn't know what she was going to expect. But because she had this really strong scientific background, she was so deeply driven to number one in a different space for children to what was expected at that time, she was just thought of something, and you know, to just be to just be looked down upon. And, and so she wanted to really, really understand what it is to remede. And so she created this environment, in which incredible things started happening and slowly the whole world knew about her and her mission and what she was creating. And this was the back end of time, a lot of technology, just the essence and the authenticity of her mission and then started spreading around the world like wildfire, and it's incredible to see how it travelled and how she threw all the challenges she had in her life. manage to spread this message that children have so much potential, these early years are pivotal in their development. And we can do so much in this time if we support that human being. And gene one is a poor condition. Yes, absolutely. So when she wanted to study medicine, and it wasn't allowed Korean at the time, she fought with the Pope, because she really felt that it wasn't bad. I mean, hats off to her to women really standing up to so much authority and societal pressures.


Farah Nanji: 10:32  


Yeah, absolutely. You mentioned just how pivotal, this idea of defining who we are and figuring out our purpose in life. Could you elaborate a little bit more on that? Something like 97% of the brain is forged by the age of three right? 


Sabeen Nanji: 10:52


it's something that is in the early years, we almost want to scream at the top of our lungs, which it is not just because we see it, we feel it, we believe it. But now all the scientific knowledge is out there. And this is something that's really interesting, because Montessori already could see it and have theories of child development, when so hand in hand, which what later emerged when we have access to MRIs, or our understanding of the brain develops over time. And what we know now is that 80% of our brain develops in the first two years of life. This is that child is an unconscious being absorbing and, and creating themselves in that time from the experiences around them. And 90% difference by five, the last 10% of your brain development happens within the next 20 years of your life. So by about the age of 25, then your brain is fully formed as a human being. And it's just so powerful to see 90% of what's happening inside my brain that's being created is happening in those early years. It's, she calls it like a bowl, that the root of the personality, the root of the human being happens in those early years. And not just in terms of the brain development, but in terms of personality development, in terms of our our ethos, our values, our respect, our mannerisms, you know, are we the type of people who hold the door open bothers, do we have that consideration that that higher empathy, that social consideration that love for others that love for nature, all of those messages, and that mindset get started and jump started in the early years? So it's absolutely so crucial to us? 


Farah Nanji: 12:30


And so if the foundation goes wrong, because the environment around them is toxic, or they're not supported properly as a child, how difficult is it to undo that damage done in the early years? 


Sabeen Nanji: 12:45


Well, childhood trauma is something that is just so deep a topic, and it's so much dezful. I think the first thing to say is that as human beings, we are incredibly resilient. And it's a testament as well to people's strength who've gone through so much adversity in childhood, had people in their lives who really didn't support them. And I've seen it firsthand, sadly, there have been children with us at times, who you can see and you know, had horrible life circumstances. But I think, you know, we are all types of creatures that we just need one person perhaps in her life, who shows us a different way of being and loves us. And if we are lucky enough to just have one person in our life, it doesn't have to be our parent, it could be an uncle, or a teacher or somebody in our life who shows as a different way who hears our two sees us, that can be incredibly grounding and routing blocks in our lives. At the same time, you know, when you've gone through childhood trauma, it is incredibly and so deep within you and at times, perhaps are not even aware about the extent in which sometimes even the brain works in such a way that you won't even have memories, and for many years in your life. So you know, there's a lot to explore there. I think just we have to harness a resilient nature of the human being able to cope with adversity. But also make sure that there are people around, you can really support that person in some way. And we can all make a different company to people who we don't know so well or the times before a relationship with people who may need somebody in their life. So it is yeah, it's huge. It's a huge thing. And part of it is really, as you said about being open and honest, vulnerable enough to accept and know that something did happen. And that might be the first step towards recovery. Yeah. And yes.


Farah Nanji: 14:45  


And so how do you personally define success? 


Sabeen Nanji: 14:50


Well, for me, it's interesting because you know, I grew up in a very society based definition of success about you know, doing really well in school. We go down a more corporate path in life. And I had sort of that vision in myself about somebody who would, you know, achieve well and do well. And I think for now, where I am, in my understanding is that being authentic within myself is a huge part of the puzzle. And I think the other part of success is, is when you feel like you made a difference to this world, you know, I think with this whole COVID thing, it has brought things about, okay, God forbid, something happens to my life right now. I think if I look back and say, you know, it's the end, for me, I will feel happy, and I feel successful in my life, because I made a difference to a small community in whatever way I have. And that, for me, feels like success that my life on this earth has been successful. But maybe my definition may change over time, I think it is very, you know, fluid at times, it depends where we are in our life, what we can do. And I think really being authentic within that human being about who we are. And what we want to do in this life is super important. 


Farah Nanji: 16:10


Wow, that's so powerful. You mentioned an outcome driven society. And we do live in a very outcome based society. Even from the very early years. You hear stories of parents who, even before the child is born, they're already trying to get places for them in school in the hope that they succeed. So living in such an outcome based society, and how do you raise children to be self motivated? 


Sabeen Nanji: 16:43


That's a great question. And so I think the first thing to remember is that I think, ultimately, all parents will succeed. And, and all of us have been, you know, part of this culture about really not being afraid at times, but definitely driven to want to enable children to have all opportunities in their life. And, but I think we need to start sort of from scratch there as parents. And as educators, we have to number one, remember that parents are the most primary educators of a human being in their life, they're the most influential people in a child's life, they will be with them, hopefully, throughout that whole journey in life. And so recognising, that comes with a double edged sword of responsibility, because we have to then look back at our childhood, we need to start thinking, what were the messages given to us as children, and maybe they weren't the right messages as well, maybe they want which could have been different about what success really means. And as a human being, acknowledging, you know, effort, and how hard people work, rather than just being focused on the outcome. So I think and that can be quite painful as well, when you look back in music, actually, yeah, you know, what, there were times in my life where I didn't feel heard, I didn't feel valued. So starting from that place of self understanding, and as a team, with your partner, really talking and discussing this special miracle that's come into my life, what do you really want for that life force? You know, are we really watching it and letting our fall because that's a separate entity from us. And they have their own inner mission and their own drive. And so to really, really be in that moment with that human life, and, of course, you know, do everything in our power to give them a high quality education that is absolutely so powerful, the right place at the right time, can do wonders for all of us. And I think really be present with that, with that life force to understand them. I think that will really be something that can sustain and, and always, you know, guide and motivate. Very interesting.


Farah Nanji: 18:43  


Very interesting. As an early years educator, you are helping to develop the next generation and the future of mankind, so what responsibility do you feel that you have as an educator? 


Sabeen Nanji: 18:52  


oh, it's huge. You know, as you know, that's my sister, this is this job, it's not a job for me, this isn't this is my whole life. And it's something that keeps me up at night, because I cared so much about the lies and mildew. And this, you know, they come to me, and I see them as babies, because then about two and a half, three years old when they come to me, but we have an infant community where most of them start around one and a half, two years old. And I see them as tiny little babies who come in and I think there's just that maternal instinct within me. It's just, I feel such tremendous respect and gratitude of holding that space for them. So every day for me, it's almost like I have to before I even start my day, I have to meditate. I have to be in the right headspace to give wholeheartedly the right emotional environment for these children who enter my space, because that affects everything. Just one comment, one, one, you know, one thing that sake, shatters somebody's self esteem. And I'm so conscious about raising children who feel so strongly themselves. So not so supported, that it takes a huge amount of energy, internal energy to really ensure that I'm giving them the right messages, my team's giving them the right messages each day. So it is, yeah, it's a huge responsibility. But it's something I feel so grateful at a young age that I can do in my life. 


Farah Nanji: 21:48


Particularly now that we are locked down, this has had a terrible effect on children. Being prevented from social interaction, seeing people wearing masks and crucially, not having access to education. I mean this is massive. So what are your sort of thoughts on getting through this crisis for children and parents who are at home with their child? 


Sabeen Nanji: 22:08


Well, I think we start from an actual understanding of the human being and what their needs are as a young child, that will help guide our approach during this exceptional circumstance. And number one, we are social primates, we need each other, we're the only species in the world that rely on another for our survival, we'll move on, we're not like any other animal who can survive. If something happens to their parents, we won't survive without a human being. We need love from our parents, we need a secure attachment for my primary caregiver. And so we are socially prime, we grew up in hunter gatherer tribes, we were always around people and you know, big, big eclectic mix of different personalities. And over time anyway, with modern technology and modern life, I was living in cities that have already been quite removed from us. And with this pandemic, it's now in its extreme, the first of all, understanding that we need social relationships in our life. And that's just it's such a huge part of my life. And particularly in childhood. You know, I think most of our memories, most of my memories I have from my childhood are being with my friends or being with, you know, you, it's, it's such a socially driven time for children. So we have to understand I'm coming to the technology part, children need movement in three hours a day, Leo years, to really have that brain develop optimally. And and, as we will, we will, we will always be outside, we barely sat down. And we lived in a time that we didn't have much technology, particularly in these early years, you know, the most we did was watch maybe 20 minutes of some TV, not even every day, most of our days active. We've now transformed in the digital revolution in living, you know, a lot more insular life. So as it was, it was difficult enough. And I actually did a big project with an occupational therapist. When we looked at movement because a researcher called Dr. Magnus Portwood discovered that most three year olds, physical development was already really, really behind of where we wanted to be announced, ready by freezer, that's going to impact so much of our later development, their literacy development, how they hold a pencil, that their mathematical development, every element of our being is impacted by the way in which we've evolved as a society. So I think using technology has to, particularly in the areas where children really have a job to do, they need to move, and for that development, we have to be so mindful about what we create. And obviously life isn't gonna be perfect. We don't all have gardens, we don't have access to outdoors as much as we need it. We have to be creative in our approach about how we go through this pandemic, and what experiences we can get to and I think the most, the more we can get to actively rather than passively, the better because what they learn from an iPad is absolutely not the same from what they get physically inactive. So my advice is that I'm constantly remembering what my child does. What does this human life need in childhood? And if, you know, you really, really need active learning, so that's my strong belief system and message. 


Farah Nanji: 25:06


I mean, when they get towards an age where it's okay to have some digital kind of tools, then I guess it's all about setting boundaries. 


Sabeen Nanji: 25:20


Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, once they're on both sets, It's a different, it's a different mind, monster, he says that then we go through four stages of human being. So the first stage of infancy from birth to six is the most crucial part of our personality formation, then from six to 12. In childhood, it's a relatively common same period of our life, but it has different needs to the needs and had as a child. And by that age, most of us can grieve, we can learn. So only our intentional relationship with technology has changed. As a young baby, as a young infant, we have no idea we're just pressing things for stimulation for you know, addictive, almost reasons, as a six year old, or seven year old, who can read who does understand what things are saying on the screen, they can use it for educational purposes, for research for understanding the world around them, and in great depth. That's fantastic. It's a fantastic resource, you know, in our life, but again, it needs any strong badly set about what's appropriate, it needs really, really strict parental supervision on terms of what accessing, because it absolutely is beyond shocking, how easy it is, for a perpetrator to come in and long these days. And, you know, do all sorts of things without anybody even realising just one message to me that opening a can of worms of something from happening for a child, and we just, you know, childhood trauma, as it is so, so toxic and damaging. And having that route open digitally, is terrifying. You know, we go through a huge amount of safeguarding training and courses, and it's unbelievable how much is in our technology, whether it's from a YouTube video, which when you're clicking, something can just pop up without you even knowing and sending a message to that young child's brain. So you know, everything needs to be like super, super monitored. And even as they get older, I think it's so important to have very, very strict parameters about it. And so it's worth serving that human being in their life. And also, there's the other part about being addictive knowing that it's an addiction. So why give something to someone from such an early age that you know, they're enhancing their cognitive ability to have children that don't have self regulation. And you know, at three years old, you're not going to be able to stop yourself from, you know, bingeing on technology. It's just so addictive in its nature. So why introduce it into that young child's mind doesn't have that capacity yet to understand the parameters and the gravity of what it is. And so, gentlemen, so your time, absolutely introduce it, we all need it to survive in this modern world. There's no two ways about it, but it has to happen at the right time for that human being for it to really be used in an optimum way for them. 


Farah Nanji: 28:37


Absolutely. And so going back to Montessori and it being more about the experience learning as opposed to the tangible outcomes of learning. Is there something intrinsic about the Montessori method that hasn't enabled it to be rolled out on mass ? It is of course present in all corners of the globe but they are all pretty much private Institutes. So why is it that the state hasn't adopted this method of learning? 


Sabeen Nanji: 28:52


Yeah, and I think this if Montessori was alive right now, I think she she was still she would feel probably quite sad how how little progress our educational system has made since her time, because when she was alive, she felt how backwards our system because education is the only industry which hasn't revolutionised and in the ways in which all other industries in the world has revolutionised in the last 100 years, 200 years, really, since the Industrial Revolution. And we are still living in a top down model of education, sadly, where we've sort of used that one teacher has most of the knowledge and will impart that to the class of children in the same way. But what we know is we all are different, we all have a special in a way that we absorb them, that our needs are particular to ourselves at that moment. And those need to be unlocked. And that's the essence of Montessori is flipping the model on its head of it being, you know, a bottom up approach to learning. So, for it to be rolled out nationally and globally and in all schools, we need to invest so much more in our systems, our systems are breaking at the seams in the education world. You know, it's self funded, it's so particularly in the UK because you really would think it would be a pioneer and a leading country in the world about how our educational system is. It's really not, you know, particularly that in the state schools. They are soon Seriously Seriously struggling to cope, really, because the challenges, and the resources just aren't enough. So as it is, it's a really challenging system to run, then if you try and make it change from a top down approach, and bottom up, it would require so much more investment, and a lot more understanding of childhood. And I really don't mean, we are horrible. We know, we know how important the ideas are. But we're not there yet, in making sure that children have high quality areas, and education and experiences. Even though the research is all there saying, this, this makes or breaks a human being. And we haven't, we haven't listened. I think we're yet to message. It's that. I think that's more political leaders, and the people at the tops of power, they're not, they're not investing enough in education, to try and get it on par to what we want it to be. 


Farah Nanji: 31:23  


I hope that's not a conscious choice from our leaders, but we don't know, right? I mean the reforms and the support system for the educational industry is shocking, as you say, and it's breaking at the seams, which is really sad. I wanted to ask you about the tremendous variation in the way that the Montessori method is adopted globally. I don't know if it's down to a lack of regulation but there seems to be discrepancies in how providers implement the Montessori method. Do you find this problematic? Or do you feel like the more people adopt this method the better it is?


Sabeen Nanji: 31:30  


Yeah, no, I actually do feel it's really sad. The discrepancies in quality because, you know, quality early is education and experience is everything. And it will go to be a Montessori, you need to do authentically because she has self worth so beyond and hard. And she, she dedicated every single element of her life to this, even her last, her last memories. There was an interview by Sunbury Montessori with her and and he was saying that in her last moment of her life, she'd been an artist after school Africa, and she was quite old boatswain and he was saying how old are you? Are you a little bit old now to try and serve another school. And I want to go and go to go and go to do it. Even in the last moments of her life, she had this stills this drive, there's more to do, there's more work to go. And, and whenever she gets out like she did it in its authenticity in its entirety and get everything within her to create that quality experience. Because Montessori isn't a trademark anytime dictionary can open it. And we do have quality, accreditation programmes. So for example, in the UK, we have something called Montessori education UK, which is an organisation is a charity which accredits Montessori is which are of a quality and you need to go through an inspection for that. But most parents don't know that that exists. And that's not a global, that's just a new system that you get there all the programmes in the world which have the same, you know, accreditation. So as a parent, you wouldn't first of all know that you may have about Montessori, that's an amazing way and experienced young children that perhaps you don't know that, that there's such discrepancies. And you know, you've walked in, I walked into places before in the UK, where they just have a few materials. And they think that's a long story. And I'm really sorry to say but it's not because the Montessori philosophy is not just the materials, it's the understanding, it's understanding that every single thing in this room has been scientifically designed, it needs somebody trained, is like looking into a science app. And I'm not using the equipment with any training, you wouldn't be able to use it to its full advantage. And it's the exact same message and understanding within the materials and supply. It's that understanding is understanding how John is each child's potential; it's a huge amount of training. And so yeah, I think if you're going to do it, you have to do authentically, because just as a testament to her and what she created, then it has to be a reflection of that.


Farah Nanji: 34:23 


It's quite sad because you have this mission and you spend your life devoted to something in order to leave a legacy but at the end of the day you leave that legacy in the hands of others, it's so difficult, isn't it? 


Sabeen Nanji: 34:30


I think what's amazing though with Montessori is how much truth and power was in philosophy that it's still sustaining itself to this day and I think it's going to, you know, hopefully be unshakable in the wild. Because so many parents have experienced the beauty and the magic of it. I have parents in tears at times for me, because we meet, I meet with the parents one on one, three times a year for at least an hour, each family each session. And, and we go so deep as a partnership and understanding that human life is within us. It's such a moving experience, I think for families to have a space, we should really understand that child life was such a deep understanding and respect to it, that's probably why it's been sustained as well, because we felt it out. You know, even on a small scale, I felt how powerful this method is philosophy. So I think, you know, hopefully it will just sustain itself over time.


Farah Nanji: 35:49  


Yeah, definitely. And so what would be your advice for new parents? 


Sabeen Nanji: 35:51  


Well, having children in itself is just such a miracle in itself, the fact that as human beings, we can create another life force. It's such a huge deal, you know, and I think we need to start thinking, when we're preparing our environments, when we're preparing ourselves as well mentally, with this experience, to understand first of all, what was our childhood like? Because that comes with a lot. And I know for me, and I follow my child, it was a beautiful childhood in many, many ways. There were challenges, of course, but it was, you know, I was extremely lucky to have amazing people around me in my childhood. And not everybody has that experience at all. And so first of all started from that place, what was my childhood? Like? What were the messages that my parents gave to me? What are the messages around me in society, and trying to understand how these messages that we want to get to my child, and because the messages that we give to children form that inner voice, that voice inside of us, our inner critic, or that their voices is, is looking for blame, or comparing ourselves that started from the messages we've given as a child, and the attachment that we have with our primary caregiver, if we can all be ready to always meet the needs of that child, and also enable them to have independence and autonomy to grow their own human being as their own life force in a safe way. So we have to first understand the gravity of the mission. And when we start understanding that and we start thinking, Okay, this is what I want for my child, this is how I would like to be with them. That then you need to further understand how I actually do that? What are the needs that I need to meet, whether it's in as a baby one nice, or to me? What's the right way in which you know, I can prepare myself for this experience. And so you need to start doing research and understanding about what the actual needs are for a human being. And then you have to start thinking, well, how can I create an environment in which that life has everything it needs to thrive and survive, and there is a lot now available for parents saluted on one scenario at home. And, you know, this isn't just something that children access in a classroom, and it's certainly not something children just experienced in the early years. Montessori is a way of life, it's a way of being. So definitely parents can access now, so much more information and understanding before they even have a child to really understand what we can do as human beings in our power to do our best for that life in the right place. 


Farah Nanji: 38:10


Yeah, absolutely. It's really important. Whether or not a parent chooses to put their child in Montessori, the most important thing is that they're looking into that setting when they are making a decision, because that child is going to spend hours of their day in this environment. So what are some of the things that parents should be looking out for in an early years setting? 


Sabeen Nanji: 38:33


Well, often I have parents who don't know much about Montessori and their prospective parents. Firstly, I'd say to them is the feeling you get when you enter a space tells you everything. You have to trust your intuition. Because ultimately, it's in the hands of the people who run an institution that makes it what it is. Is that a space where children are really duct, is it? Do you feel that warmth when you enter? This is a place where my child is going to feel the same amount of love as they do at home? And is that a space in which children have freedom to be themselves A space in which the people who are involved are high educated, and have dedicated, you know, a huge amount of energy to create a beautiful space for that is a space, which is ordered, has clear messages given to children, is it a calm space is a space, I would like to be. And I am curious about this space. And, and I think that intuition within us is so powerful. And so you know, and that, you know, I didn't have a sales pitch ever with any family or walk in the door, I'm very honest, that you have to feel the trust, you have to really fully trust the space. Because otherwise it's not going to work. And, you know, intuition is so powerful. So I think that that energy that you get when you walk into an environment, and you feel it's optimum for a human being, or a human life, this miracle has come through, and is everything. So that's why I would say it's my advice. I mean, that I mean, I think that applies to anything, any situation, any room that you walk into being the energy and having that intrinsic intuition that just hits you have a lightning bolt in a vault in like one second, you can't ignore that I know is speaking to you, and is trying to kind of send the message to your signal. 


Farah Nanji: 41:45


How important is nutrition in children? We know, of course, that it's absolutely everything in adults. But how important is it for fueling a young developing brain? 


Sabeen Nanji: 41:55


Oh, this is huge. And yeah, I mean, for me, my philosophy is that quality nutrition is everything, as it is in our environment is laden with pesticides, antibiotics in our milk, and we already are living in a very toxic environment. And now the COVID there's such a cleaning products being used in that environment, I think it's even more of a reason for us to be conscious about where we're getting our food source from, and how these animals or vegetables, fruits, grains, how they're being treated, we have to as much as humanly possible, because it's always going to be practical, go for high quality products for our children, and you know, with the least amount of pesticides and cider, and we still don't know full damage the full extent to what's been given to us, and how it affects our, our whole being. And so, I would highly recommend a very, very rich diet full of whole grains full of fruits and vegetables, and introduce those tastes as from the moment of weaning and just continue to expand that palette from the earliest moments. And because you know, there's nothing more challenging than a bus eater, it's so tough. Once those habits set in childhood, it's so difficult to break when children get a taste for pre highly processed food, it's gonna be a tonne of water to bring them back to a very nourishing diet. So when they see weaning is the most important time for you for a family to really evaluate what they're eating and how that's going to be transmitted and you know, taken on by their child as well and also prenatal as well. And you know, I think there's a huge huge power in you know, as an expecting mother to really nourish every cell of your body with goodness and I think it's so important my own mental well being as well it's something we talked about a lot at home because we knew we knew what our mom so you know, whether through when she was you know, on her journey or pregnancy and and obviously a very very conscious choice and she will always joke that you know, she ate so much spinach during my injury and when I was being formed that you know, it's just made me so strong you know to even today I feel the impact and she even went you know to a specialist at that point you evaluated all of her like I think her hair and like all of these things and they and they kind of said all of these are the things that really work for you and and it and it really it really what it is and it's a miracle how much it's like growing apart if you put it in toxic soil, it's not gonna it's not gonna flourishes in the womb is that space for that human life for that embryo is available to me so I do and then you gotta just keep going forward with that as much as you can of course we're not perfect but definitely the best we can we shouldn't we shouldn't give and remove you know, sugar and addictive substances as much as possible.


Farah Nanji: 44:53  


Yeah, it's like why allow that addiction to start from an early age. I mean we're not perfect. You know that I had a huge sugar addiction growing up as a child, and I'm still fighting that, with my internal voice in my head, resisting that temptation, it's so difficult. I mean, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of my favourite films growing up. The way the sweets and sugar could be so magical, it's really tough. I just feel like when you're younger, you would have people around you to stop you from those bad habits. Now as an adult it's a lot harder. 


Sabeen Nanji: 45:38


I think, you know, we have to obviously have pleasure in our food, but ultimately in childhood with all the habits that as a human being we're going to have in our life, why started an unhealthy chain reaction? Yeah, I think that's the message as much as humanly possible. Enable success without harming the human being, 


Farah Nanji: 46:00


You've taught us so much about nutrition and it certainly isn't seen even in the school, the efforts and the lengths you go towards having more of an Ayurvedic approach or more holistic approach towards nutrition. As children, we just never know, when something's sweet. It's actually got from the form, like, the right sorts of the pancakes that used to be for example, in that case, nobody would ever know, you know, that it's, it's, it's made from that source. So that's really interesting. Who is a teacher that has had the strongest impact on you? 


Sabeen Nanji:  46:40


Such a great question, because I really feel that when you have that experience in your life of having a teacher, who you've never forgotten, and it's often about how they made you feel, it's life changing. And often when I reflect back on the people in my life, the way they made me feel was hard, valued. They supported who I was, they believed to me, and I was really, really fortunate that one of my biggest educators in my life, aside from our family, from our parents was women who parent peers, who when I was a child, she was running the children's house in the Montessori in Hampstead, and mom was training upstairs and getting her to go over. And, having peers was an amazing person, because not just her knowledge of child development, but the way in which interact with children. I've had the fortune now to learn from her as an adult, because she runs a course called the observation course. And she's gone on to create two other people, the first Montessori and lesson communities, they have a programme which goes all the way from bump to age at age of 18. And it's always inspiring to see a Montessori environment later on. But when I reflect back, why I experienced and known her so powerful in my life, it's the way in which she was with me. And I still feel overwhelmed. Appreciate appreciation to have somebody in my life, you gave me a space where I felt loved. I felt devalued. I think it's just so so powerful, 


Farah Nanji: 48:32


was an incredible I mean, it's an absolute Rarity to be taught by somebody at such a young age, and then to them from them and still have that connection with them and access to them much they joined life. And I think even yesterday, we're talking about, you know, some of the stuff about the outcome based society and how we sort of allow self how we kind of encourage self motivation, self regulation, children, I think, also something you said that was quite interesting was like how we saw torture children achieve something, do we just give them a pat? Or do we just say, Oh, well done, or orange, we talked about the journey that they went through and how that made them feel. 


Sabeen Nanji: 49:01


Yeah, so parents are interested, or you're just genuinely interested about this, an amazing woman who can clap, she has an amazing TED talk, and all of the growth mindset. And what she discovered is that when you praise the outcome, verses praising the process, it's a completely different experience for a human being. So if I just said to you P waves, you know, you had a result as well done a job. That's fine, you know, you're going to feel good about achieving something. Whereas if I say to you, you worked so hard, you tried your best. I love the way in which you thought about this, that then starts a different reflection about what your experiences were. Because it's saying, working hard, trying to best, most meeting yourself, keeping on persevering. It's not attached to an outcome. And that's going to sustain you no matter what experience you have. Because every time we can experience failure in our life, it's part of emotion, and we should, absolutely, is the process of learning. But when the praise is just focused on the outcome, it's so damaging, because all I feel valued for is achieving. And when I don't achieve, it's been directly related to my self worth. And I think this is something As parents, we have to be so conscious about our language, about how we speak, and how we encourage those habits to Formula human beings, and how we encourage self motivation. Because you can sustain yourself if you achieve setbacks. And you know, that's part of the process, you know, if you have that resilience from a young age to keep you online, and keeping on time, and one of the things in our environment that's really special is that all materials have something called a control of error. So when something's wrong, the child can see, clearly there's, there's something wrong, they don't need an external person to say, That's not how you do it, they can already see it. And that's a huge, huge part of, you know, process of learning as well as self correcting, and keeping on going. And so I think just the way in which we can praise the process of learning is so powerful for us. 


Farah Nanji: 52:12


And also, like, you know, when you get nine out of 10, you then set a better set of benchmark and it's so difficult because then all you're attached to is constantly getting that in fear of not getting in, and and then actually new, the joy of getting to the outcome is the journey that 90% of the fulfilment and happiness. And I actually think you know, this, the way that you talked about it is not just for children, but is in relation to chatting like even when it's with your partner or your best friend, like actually making them feel like you understand their journey and what they went through towards getting towards that outcome can lead to a much more sort of fulfilling and more richer relationship with a new around you dissolve my relationships, and what was it like being my sister, 


Sabeen Nanji: 53:00


I've learned so much I really feel because you know, I'm younger than you. And you have been such an influencer, my life. And because your journey and your story has been so powerful for me to experience, those people listening won't know how drastically different I experienced in education. Maybe you're guessing from what I'm telling is that I had quite a stable, enjoyable experience in my education, but you definitely didn't. And that has been always a huge point of reflection for me is your system because I've seen you suffer through it. And I've seen the messages you were given as a young child. And even though I can understand that, at the time, it is full gravity. It made me think, learn compassion, because seeing you so down at times, and so like outcasts from an environment. And I feel like I in my heart was like, this is just not how it should be, you know? And I felt this almost anger, like, how can they not see you particularly now as an adult and have gone through this experience? I'm just thinking, how does that okay, you know, how does that the message you would give them as a child, like, that's just not okay. And then you know, your experiences with dyspraxia as far as not being diagnosed and most of your life, I think that was also a huge point of learning for me, because, you know, when we figured it out, it's like, that made so much sense and why can nobody see that for you, it's a really comes back to understanding that human being and understanding how they learn and how they interact with us, it was obviously so hugely influential in your, in your experience of learning. And I think the other part of being your sister, that is even an amazing thing is that, you know, your energy is, is so exciting and so much fun. And I think, you know, the reason why you have such a big network of friends is because people just gravitate towards you for your energy alone. It's, I have so much fun being around you and we go into crazy adventures that I definitely wouldn't have had with him or night without you. And I think that that's the it's so powerful for me as a human being to have somebody in my life who can, you know, read out that bond side with me and


Farah Nanji: 54:44  


definitely, I mean, especially maybe it's not easy running a family business and you know, we're constantly we're always surrounded by by a family and you come home to that environment and and so I guess I'm just always like, I just even despite why My experiences and all that stuff like, I don't know why we like it's never changed for me, there's fun, always playful side, you know? And enjoy our family businesses, you know, how do you have you set the boundaries within working in family mode because it is quite difficult when you you know, some of us who do work in our family environment, you know, you don't switch off, you can't you go to work, you come home, and you still be talking about it at the dinner table. 


Sabeen Nanji: 55:55


So yeah, I think if I talk about this more hypothetically, in the sense that, say, for example, I have a child and in their life and their mission, they decided to become a monster, I think the first thing is that that person needs to feel autonomy, they need to have made a conscious choice to be that. Because for me, I was extremely fortunate that, you know, this was never forced upon me, I made a choice, I gave it a little go. And I absolutely fell in love with it. And that love for this work has sustained me through all the challenges that have been there, because it has been like, it's, it's been the biggest challenge in my life without, you know, a hesitation. So if I had been forced in that situation, it would not be the same experience for me, if I didn't love this work, I would not be able to sustain myself, I think I would just be really sad and miserable. If I had to go through this. Yeah, because you know, this has to be if you're making that decision, it has to be coming from within you. And then I think, you know, there has to be a strong system in place within an organisation. Because I think the systems within an organisation carrier that I think takes off most of the burden, one less strong systems, and a strong culture, within the organisation of respect and standing support supervision. I think having, you know, strong supervision, having a mentor or somebody within that organisation to support that human being who's going through that journey, or being in a very different environment, and very different set of clear parameters and having a very clearly defined role is so it's so important for it to going successfully. 


Farah Nanji: 57:21


And also just having, you know, obviously, when your family, it's a very important relationship. So when you go to work, you need to have some professional boundaries, and you need to create almost a space where you know, every few weeks, you're reflecting and recreating that very intentional professional space, right? Yeah, definitely. So what I'd like to ask you Next is talking about legacies and missions. What footprint? Would you like to be like? What would you like to be? What would you like to be known for? 


Sabeen Nanji: 58:00


Well, I think COVID, this is sort of may become even stronger in my mind. And where I'm at right now is that I want every single child who's been in that space to feel that they'd be locked in somebody on this earth and cared about them, to the nth degree. And if that's all I achieve in my life, I will be beyond my throat. Because for me, that experience of having children who who know how much they cared for and how much they're loved, and how supportive they are is so moving at times, when you see how much it changes everything how that that person just opens, gates, competence, self esteem, motivation, perseverance, kindness, concentrations through that relationship, and through that experience. And if that's the footprint I leave on this app in my community within this space, I will be extremely thrilled with that, that that's definitely enough for me. 


Farah Nanji: 58:55


And something I like to ask all my guests, as a closing sort of question is why? And it's a very deep question, of course. But in a nutshell, what's your intuition on why you think we are here on earth? 


Sabeen Nanji: 59:00


I really feel like it's to make a difference. Whether it's a small difference, or a large difference, I feel we have to leave this better than how we found it. Yeah. I feel like it's a conscious collaborative effort to make a difference in our own way, in whichever shape or form we can add to others. Because, for me, it's been the most powerful experience of my life, making a difference, not seeing this as a job. And with this as my inner mission in life. I feel like we all have our own mission. And we all have something unique that we can give this asset somebody else perhaps couldn't. And to find what that is, and to do it in our own way is, I think, the biggest the biggest joy in life who can 


Farah Nanji: 59:56


Do you think there is something after this? 


Sabeen Nanji: 1:00:02


I think that, you know, I think there is definitely like, a shared consciousness. And I think we sort of go back into that realm at some point after death, but I yeah, I don't know. I didn't know how it would unfold. But I feel like there's a strong spirit within each one of us. And there's something that conscious element within us, it didn't come from nowhere. That thing that is uniquely ours, and I feel like it, it definitely lives on after this line. So as Deepak Chopra said, No, we're not human beings having a spiritual experience. As we are aware we're having a spiritual experience as a human being. Right. Yeah. 


Farah Nanji: 1:00:45


And so final, final closing remarks. Is there anything you'd like to ask me? 


Sabeen Nanji: 1:01:10


What was it like being my sister? 


Farah Nanji: 1:01:13


Oh, gosh. Yeah, I mean, um, you know, I'm so grateful that I have a system because I know that not every only a lot of people come to see our bond. And, and they're, they're very admiring with it. Because, you know, they definitely see you as my living Ninja, my sidekick. And I know very well that not everybody is so lucky to have such a close relationship with their sibling. But it's a very conscious thing that we've developed. It's not something that you know, it's just like that. 


Sabeen Nanji: 1:02:00


It's such an easy question, because I think it comes actually as the best moment in my whole life. And then you know, what it is, is when you did your TEDx talk, That's about, I can't tell you what that experience was like, as your sister, and particularly your youngest sister, it was, it was the best moment of my life, because it was already a very challenging experience, because you didn't have much time to prepare for it. And you, you have so much going on at that time. And I arrived the night before, and the transformation from that Friday night to the Saturday when you did it, and you smashed it. I had tears in my eyes when the auditorium was clapping because I've never, I've never felt just more joy in my life to see you just achieve your goals and dreams. And I can't really describe that feeling to see you just, you know, deliver what was inside of you. And it was a beautiful experience in my life. 


Farah Nanji: 1:03:45


So thanks for being there. Because you know, as you said, like I didn't have much time, it was about six weeks, and I was in six countries that week. So nothing in there for six weeks. And it's not something, you know, a lot of people sort of spend almost a year developing. I've had crazy statistics, like, people spend one hour practising just one minute of speech. And because it's just so daunting being up there. And it wasn't really about you know, the brand and what can come after it was really the point of paying yourself up on stage and being vulnerable and sharing your story. And knowing also that it can get scrutinised by 1000s of people, and it's quite fast I think is the hardest part of it. And also not the question to ask is, when did you feel like us our relationship while our sisterhood evolved? You know, because it's one thing you know, being young, being children, and then being teenagers and being young adults. And I think in our earlier years, we actually didn't have much fun. And so it's interesting how we've really developed a very close bond


Sabeen Nanji: 1:04:27  


So for me, there's a very clear, defining moment in my life. And this happens. And it's when I really needed somebody in my life, and I didn't have anyone. And I was 15. And I was in my room. And I was crying because some girls might have been very kind to me. And I didn't know how to cope. And you just walk into my room and you see me really upset. And you the way you were with me with something I didn't expect. I thought you'd Yeah, I didn't know. I didn't know what to expect. And you just came to me like, What? What's just No, okay. And I told you everything and you like, that's, that's just not on campus, go to school, like, like, No, I'm going to take you with my friend. You don't need these people. It's like, Okay, and so you take me to the natural history, ice skating Museum, and the ice rink and you were really cool friends that were like older than me. And it was a school night and I just had the most amazing experience just being completely in a different headspace. It happened so quickly. And I just felt so just soon loved through you by you and just so supportive. And I think that from that moment, our sisterhood was defined and I actually am grateful for that experience happening in my life because it led to our friendship just evolving so much faster and deeper. And since then, like we've just sort of been inseparable and always there for each other Which I'm so grateful for. 


Farah Nanji: 1:06:25  


Yeah, it's funny, I think like, Can people see us and they think we're twins that, you know, you are a younger sister. And I think that, you know, particularly at that age, I would say, I must have been, what, like 18 around the age or something. And I think, you know, just been diagnosed a few years prior to that with dyspraxia and I'm very introverted, I certainly did not know how to communicate, I found it really tough to communicate. So you probably didn't know just how much I valued and treasured you and just how overprotective I was because I wasn't really communicating that tool. But the second that, you know, a threat came in our environment, it was like, No, there's no way anyone's, you know, passing my little sister. And I think like, even our friends, you know, today will probably last because they do know how to protect you. Even to the point where, you know, boys are scared. Because like, there's about a key ninja to go through before they can get to you. And, you know, that's definitely, that's definitely interesting how a positive or negative experience can actually transform into such a positive, longer lasting experience. I've been really lucky to have you as a sister. So thank you so much for coming on the show and doing Mission Makers of being our season finale. 


Farah Nanji: 1:10:01


I had goosebumps all the way through filming this episode. One of the first things that my sister said in this episode was that unlocking our childhood is such a deep and personal uncovering, that we really have to be ready to go into it authentically. And it's so true, because it's not an easy thing to go through. Because we really have to evaluate whether the messages that we were given early on were the right ones. And it's so interesting, because both me and my sister were raised in the same household. And whilst we had the right messages coming to us from our families, the external environments of our schools were completely juxtaposed in the messages that we were given. And as a result, you know, one of us has gone through a hell of a lot more, a lot more trauma than the other. And so it's absolutely critical to kind of go into that journey in order to be able to put together those pieces of our lives puzzle. And think then how we want to nurture and grow an incredible new life force. And it's funny, because as the years have gone, you could probably tell that the relationship between me and my sister have kind of done a role reversal over time where it actually feels like she's my older sister, because she's so profound in her understanding and guidance of human beings and of our family as well. And there were so many things she said in this episode that I do hope resonated with you guys. Some of the things that really stood out to me is how she says that the feeling that you get when you enter a space tells you everything. And I think that's so true, not only when you know making the life changing decision of where to send our children to school, but for everyone when they enter a space to really feel with all of their senses, if their energy is positive, and if we really want to be there. And I also thought it was so true about what she says about praising the process and not the outcome. Too often in life, we are measured completely by our outcomes. And that has a huge effect in how we view ourselves. If the process of learning is encouraged more from a young age, we learn to love that journey more and become more resilient and fulfilled as a result of our efforts. And the power of just one person loving and believing in us can be all it takes and can be so profound in grounding us towards true happiness. Finally, I've also learned a lot from my sister about setting myself up into the right headspace before starting my day. As Sabine says, she's going into a highly stressful environment where just one comment can shatter a child's self esteem or one second of not noticing if a child is doing something dangerous, could be fatal. And that requires a huge amount of internal energy, not only from herself, but from the team as well. And that's something that was really stuck by me in all of these years. And I find that when me and my teams are so much more equipped when we take the time to meditate and look after our minds and bodies before starting our days, and after ending our days in order to be our best selves for those around us. So I really hope you guys take that away. And I hope that you guys really enjoy season one. Thank you so much for tuning in. And thank you so much to all of our guests who came onto the show and shared their amazing stories and insights. I really hope it's left you with some really, really incredible inspiration to put this year into perspective and to start 2021 with a renewed energy to get through this crazy pandemic. Season Two we'll be back in March, but we will be sharing a few bonus episodes in January. So do be sure to tune into that and from all of us here at Mission Makers. Wishing you and your families Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.


Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to listen to this episode. I hope you're leaving with some great inspiration that can help you with whatever you want to achieve in your life. If you enjoyed today's episode, be sure to subscribe to your favourite podcast platform so you can be notified when a new episode is posted. It would also mean the world to us if you could rate and review the show and share it with your friends so we can reach as many people as possible. If you want to reach out to me as well you can get in touch directly @DJ.N1nja on Instagram and Twitter. That's @DJ.N1nja and also @MissionMakers on social media. Thanks so much again for listening. Until next time, Mission Makers stay safe and have an amazing week.

Lessons To Fuel Your Mission
  • Praise the process, not the outcome

  • People respect authenticity above talent

  • Every human being has an inner secret mission that nature has given it

  • When children get a taste for highly processed foods, it will be a tug of war to get them off it

  • 90% of who we are is created by the age of 5. The early years are pivotal in jump starting our mindset

  • Deeply evaluate the messages given to us in our childhood and be ready to confront them knowing it is essential for evaluation for our own peace and for nurturing a new life force


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