The opportunity to learn comes at any moment and from any situation and person. Even from the smallest ones, the kids. You just need to be aware and keep your eyes, ears and heart open. This concept might be relatively easy to understand but difficult to perform. To illustrate the idea, I’d like to present you a real example where observation and awareness made me learn something about life. At this point I’m going to share with you the life lessons I learned recently from my 2.5 years old son, Daniel.
Six days before starting our summer holidays we were at home, as daycare was already closed. TV was on and in a certain moment there was a cartoon where a bear was jumping on a trampoline. Obviously Daniel was in the sofa and started jumping mimicking the bear, although with worse consequences. After the third jump, during the descent he hit the back of the sofa, making the inertia project him forward in an acrobatic motion, and after a perfect 270° front-flip with rotation he landed on his arm. The result of the stunt was the left collarbone broken. Here comes the first lesson: don’t mimic what others do (especially on TV/YouTube) unless you are sure what you are doing. Respect the “don’t try this at home”!
Jokes apart, you can imagine the drama. The poor kid broke a bone right before our summer holidays! How terrible! Why this happened to us! How are we going to tell the news to the grandparents! Etc, etc. Meanwhile Daniel was crying only due to the pain, ignoring the possible extra consequences concerning holidays, because kids live the moment. While we the adults were concerned about the possible and horrible negative consequences, he was just adapting to the new circumstances. Soon he learnt to keep his arm still to avoid pain. Next day he was acting normally, just using one hand to do whatever, and asking help from the adults if he couldn’t do something by himself. He wasn’t complaining, he simply conformed and enjoyed life under his new context, without regrets for having fallen or concerns about the future.
Coming back to adults’ point of view, here is when coaching comes into action. Let’s introduce an idea: at any situation presented as negative (you may call it problem if you want, but calling it problem makes it a problem automatically) you can basically have three approaches.
- The first would be to focus in the “why this happened to me”, something that doesn’t add any value and can be very dangerous, especially if the situation has been labeled as a problem. You may enter in a spiral of negativity difficult to leave behind. Adults we normally focus on this blaming and on the multiple terrible putative consequences of the situation, which in 98% of the cases will never become true (this percentage is a rough estimation, but trust me, I’m a doctor!).
- The second would be to ignore it, but that’s not what a coach would recommend, as it doesn’t add any value either, although at least it’s not dangerous. It’s just boring.
- And the third way, the recommended one, would be to be aware of the situation (even crying if necessary), accept it, adapt to it, and try to learn from it. Let’s call this response “the kids way”, although often they tend to forget the learn from it part.
Kids are specialists in this third way. They don’t plan the future, that’s why in Daniel’s case he wasn’t even worried about the summer holidays in Spain. He lived the moment, he was aware of the pain coming when using the left arm. He accepted the situation, with no complaining (only in case of real pain), regrets or blaming (I’m sure some adults would have blamed the cartoon bear for their fall and then regret that they jumped mimicking it). He learnt to keep the left arm still and use the right arm instead for everything, and what is more important, he learnt to ask for help in case of need. That’s another powerful lesson that we adults tend to reject. Be like a kid, ask for help if needed. And then is where having a favorite coach might help.
TL;DR (too long, didn’t read): if you have a problem, forget the “why” and focus in the “what now”.
PS: I’m proud I finished this post without mentioning Viktor Frankl.