Saturday, December 26, 2009

Everything I Know is Wrong



Lately I've been looking at a few things in my life and resetting my ideas about what I should do about them. Two sterling examples come to mind.

We have been running a part-time home-based relationship program for my son, Andy (12 years old) for about two years now. Prior to that I spent about two years moaning and gnashing my teeth and complaining to anyone who would listen that I can't help my son because I split his time with his mom (my ex) and she insists that he go to school, so I can't run a full time home program for him.

(For those of you who read Teflon's blog about miracles you may recognize this as a prime example of obsessing about what I can't do as a way of totally blocking the way for what I can do.)

Well, I'm happy to say that I got over that and started a genuine part-time relationship based  home program for Andy with the help dedicated, loving and wonderful people at a known organization.

Then, a few weeks ago, I realized that although I was running a program for my son that was doing him a lot of good, I could do so much more for him if I kicked up the intensity of our effort from creating a good program for Andy, creating an exciting, outstanding, no-holds barred race to the moon aimed at Andy living a whole, beautiful and blessed life of his own choosing.

I quickly realized that if I were to create this in the shortest time possible, I needed help, and for the first time I seriously considered seeking help from a company that I have helped to found, Relate to Autism. I spoke to Kat (RTA President and Director of Programs) with the idea of asking her if she could recommend someone to me that I could hire to work intensively with me to look at all aspects of our existing program, set us up and at the same time train me how to set up, run and maintain my program and develop my team to perform at peak level in the playroom.

I was overjoyed when she told me that she would take on the job herself and we moved to discussing how soon we could get started. We are currently in the process and I find that, although I possess the knowledge to effectively manage people (Thanks, Dad, for 15 years in your companies grooming to take over one day ) I don't do what I know (which means I don't really KNOW it).

Also, I have been so immersed in my own private struggle to assume proactive leadership of Andy's program that I have spent far too little time on the meat of the program, i.e. what can we do with Andy in the playroom to help him develop as fast and as far as he is able to. I often would talk others about our program with Andy and remark that, actually, it is the adults in the room who are the limiting factor on Andy's progress. I have yet to see any of us challenge him to grow and have him be unresponsive or unwilling to take on the challenge. In fact he stretches himself well and readily, the problem is coming up with what to invite him to do next. I also realized that the way I had been running my program, it was more important to me that I be the one who recovers Andy than that he recover.

Time for me to recalibrate my thinking

I am beginning to appreciate my true talent for ignoring the obvious. Part and parcel of that is religiously avoiding asking myself obvious questions, like "If most of your time is spent trying to figure out how you can run Andy's program, how much time are you actually spending trying to figure out what Andy needs?"

And most of all, I have reassessed my conviction that I have to be the one to figure all this out. I am willing to call in outside help without feeling that I have somehow abdicated leadership of Andy's program. I have simple gone from being an under-equipped and ineffective leader to one who is in the process of implementing constructive and much needed change with the help of qualified people. Change which will re-focus our efforts to where they can do the most good for Andy.

Remember that I said TWO examples??
Okay, thanks for staying with me. Who knows, maybe I can give Mark a run for his money!

The other example that comes to mind is my long standing (and often sitting) battle with obesity. While I have lost a few hundred pounds in my life, I bounce around a lot (no pun intended).

Some time ago Mark started teasing me that if he were my diet doctor (i have one) the last thing he would want to do is advertise the fact that I'm his patient. Initially I took umbrage at these playful, albeit sincere, remarks. I felt that such criticism was unjustified since, when I actually did follow my doctor's program I lost weight well and quickly. Then I began to realize that my weight management skills were much like my people management skills. Although I know what to do, I don't KNOW what to do.

Shortly thereafter I was in the playroom with my friend Tristan, a 14 year-old young man who is on the verge of emerging altogether from his history of autism and whom I sincerely and gratefully refer to as MY personal volunteer even though I volunteer in his playroom once a week. Tristan observes a special diet to nourish and sustain himself in the best way possible given the qualities of his digestive system.


This diet has been laid out in a book by a Dr. Douglass N. Graham entitled "The 80/10/10 Diet". It is essentially a raw foods regime that maintains that the optimum food mix for the human animal is 80% carbohydrates 9mostly from fruit), 10% protein and 10% fat. I won't go into the details of the program here but heartily recommend that you buy the book and check it out if you are interested.

Since I play with Tristan on Mondays from 12 to 2 pm, I always get to see him eat his lunch, which consists of large quantities of fresh fruit such as 10 bananas at a sitting or 3 or 4 sugar baby watermelons. I have often flirted with the idea of trying this myself and Tristan and I have had many a discussion where he has proved to be a knowledgeable and enthusiastic proponent of Dr. Graham's ideas.

On the heels of my decision to shake things up in our home program, I finally decided last Monday that maybe a change would suit me well on this front as well. On Tuesday I went out and bought bulk quantities of various fresh fruits and have been reading the book and enjoying what I like to call "The Gorilla Diet". I don't know if Dr. Graham is right or if I'm just enjoying the adventure and novelty of attacking an old problem with new tools, but I'm certainly feeling great and having a good time of it.

Well, what can I say? It has been liberating and invigorating to let in the idea that my best efforts may just be wrong anyway. An old friend of mine used to say "looks like it's time for a 180 degree mid-course correction" (RIP, Andy) and I always loved the way that he said that, even if you do a complete turnaround, you're still on course.

How about you? Any long overdue U-turns in your future? Is your future now?

Love Always,

Mark

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