Sometimes, the problem isn’t the problem and solving for X won’t get you to Y … or, why.
Finding the right solution takes care. Care to question linear thinking, to step back, observe, process information, allow for imagination, trust your instincts, and try to connect dots. Then you have to be so bold as to trust yourself for what you came up with and run with it and make adjustments in the field in real time.
About ten years ago, I got a call from a friend who was working with a client and said he gave the guy my cell phone number, because he was looking for someone to work with his daughter and after listening to him, he thought of me. Of course, I started asking questions and he said he’d rather let the guy explain it directly to me. Um … okay?
So the guy called and told me about his daughter. She was fourteen years old and 5’,1”. All of her friends at school were taller than her. And then, he says this: “Can you make my daughter taller?” Yeah, I know. Before I responded with science, I stopped myself and asked if we could all meet. Not sure why I did that. We met at his home, which turned out to be a multi-million-dollar mansion. Not too shabby.
He greeted me at the door and as we entered the living room, there was his lovely family. Awesome people. I sat on one sofa facing the other where his wife, daughter and her older brother sat, while he took the chair to the right.
It was abundantly clear that they loved their children very much and just wanted their daughter to be happy. They told me they saw doctors, nutritionists, and personal trainers, but now out of desperation and a chance phone conversation with my friend, here I am. Reasoning with her and reassuring her wasn’t going to work. We humans are emotional creatures. Even though we process logic through the neo-cortex, what drives us, comes from the limbic system and that part of the brain doesn’t give a shit about your logic. Sorry, Doc.
So after about twenty minutes, her father looked at me and asked, “Can you help her?” That was the question; “Can you help her?” The word “taller” wasn’t in the question. I paused, looked at his daughter, then back to him and his wife and said, “I think so.” We scheduled our first session for that coming Saturday morning.
As I drove out through the guard gate, I thought, “What the hell did I just get myself into? Why did I tell them I could help?” On the way home, I just stared out the windshield. When I got home I pulled out all my books and notes from my martial arts training, my textbooks on kinesiology, physiology, nutrition, and athletic training, as well as articles on puberty and how that affects hormones and growth. I even had a book on yoga at that time, but I was no yogi. Still not.
I sat there for hours on the floor, surrounded by books, science, and logic. Then for no real reason, I picked up one of my martial arts books and as I skimmed through it, it hit me; “This girl isn’t short. She just sees herself as short.”
I put together a routine that incorporated ancient martial arts exercises with whole body and mind functional training. Lots of breathing and concentration. I approached her as a human, not a project or a problem to solve. It was more about her interconnectedness, mind, body, and soul.
Even though the training wasn’t easy, I kept the atmosphere light with wit and humor. I’m a comedian at heart. She began to open up more, engage in what we were doing, and ask questions. She even smiled and began to joke around as she applied herself more and more. Ah, there’s a person in there and she’s pretty cool.
We trained out back by their pool. An amazing setting. I would always park in the driveway and carry my mats and gear around the side yard to set up. But one evening, as I was unloading my gear, her father came out to meet me. This was unusual, as I normally just met everyone out back. As he spoke, he got a bit glassy-eyed. He thanked me, handed me a bonus check, and said that they’ve seen some incredible changes in their daughter; that she seemed happier and more confident. Not taller. And he hugged me. Did I mention these people really love their kids? Awesome.
I ended up training the whole family and they enjoyed having that time together in one space. They were busy people. And as far as her getting taller, time took care of that naturally.
Sometimes, the problem isn’t the problem and solving for X will not get us to why.
Photo by allef.viniciusa on Unsplash.