A lot has been learned about the dolphin brain and behavior since Dudley Lynch and Paul L. Kordis wrote Strategy of the Dolphin: Scoring A Win in a Chaotic World. A friend recommended the book over twenty years ago. It taught me a lot then and its lessons for human functioning in an organization are still valid regardless of any advances in biology.

At the time I first read the book, I was working in shark-infested waters. I’m not a shark by nature but I didn’t want to be a carp or hang around with any bait-fish. So I had to learn the strategy of the dolphin. “(T)he dolphin (human variety) changes the nature, the rules, perhaps even the playing surface and the players themselves. Dolphins enjoy, exploit, explore, and experience to the fullest of their faculties the ability of the integrated, highly social (internally,) fully involved human brain . . . The result is often an ocean of ideas. A maelstrom of possibilities. An awakening of potential. A suddenly visible way out of the shark pool . . .” (p. 16). I discovered the pool was bigger than I’d thought, and before too long I swam on to a better job.

Panel 1 of stained glass triptych with ocean theme

“In For the Swim” left panel

After a decade I recognized a few sharks in that pool and read the book again. At the time I was releasing creative potential outside of the job through stained glass window design. It occurred to me that I could create a work of art that encoded my practice of the strategy of the dolphin in the workplace. Besides helping me work through some of my issues, designing “In for the Swim” engaged a playful sense of humor because of its hidden meaning. Nobody but Jay and me would know that I was freeing my own inner dolphin, nor whom the carp and the shark represented.

I started working on the design for “In for the Swim” with a target finish date that would allow us to feature it in a big April show. The design was still an idea when we went to S.A. Bendheim in New Jersey to buy all the glass we needed for months of work. When I saw Youghiogheny’s rippled stippled “Water Light” glass, I knew I would use it. However I didn’t anticipate how my design concept would change and the Youghiogheny glass would become the primary glass in the triptych. The beautiful glass is difficult to cut and there was barely enough for the three 33″ x 33″ panels. If even one piece broke the wrong way, there was not enough time to return to Bendheim’s for more glass and complete the project before the Philadelphia Furniture and Furnishings Show. Jay was equal to the task and cut every piece perfectly despite the stress.

Panel 2 of stained glass triptych

“In For the Swim” center panel

Panel 3 of stained glass triptych with ocean theme

Right panel of “In For the Swim”

The blue, green, and pink-highlighted Youghiogheny glass creates a backdrop for three types of seafaring creatures executed in three types of clear glass. Three playful dolphins are made of clear mouth-blown glass with large bubbles; a shark is in reeded glass, and carp are made of another textured clear glass.

Every time we’ve exhibited the triptych it has evoked accolades. In 2003 it won a First Place in the Scranton Summer Solstice exhibit.

Stained glass triptych with ocean theme

In for the Swim

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