Solving objective math problems back in junior high school was so much fun. It was about the relationships of one set of numbers to others. Now I am enjoying solving subjective, people puzzles or human instead of number relationships.

In my huge junior high there were future doctors, lawyers and prisoners. No surprise. These pupils gathered together from wide ranging socio-economic and ethnic cohorts. Now I interact happily with a similarly diverse array of high achieving or high conflicting students.

I was still fascinated with making sense of algebra equations during my high school years. I had relinquished the passing dream of a related Civil Engineering career, on which I’d reported some years before. I was still destined though to be a builder – a relationship builder and a metaphorical “bridge builder.”

In high school, I found pleasure in hanging out with some incredibly intense coaches and ball players. Often those coaches were teaching with an old-school, fear based communication style. The critical, screaming coach taught some players to

  • develop new habits,
  • mesh with team mates and
  • see the court or field with greater awareness of self and other.

By the practicing of new and evolving habits, I noted many of the players could learn poise in their own skin. Some could also maintain equanimity in relationship with others.

It was much later that I began to understand the releasing or limiting impact (on performance in any situation) of the old relationship patterns. I speak of the patterns practiced with or modeled after one’s family of origin system. Not everyone could prosper with equanimity — without a lot of extra, personal, neutral coaching, and again, repeated practice.

As a cub reporter for the ProJo and sports editor for the school newspaper, I loved asking the hard questions. One must get the relevant answers in order to report on successful and not so successful combat. I started to learn then how to be gracious and confident in interviews. Exceptional journalism requires expert asking and listening, just like therapy and coaching.

No surprise that I now crave decoding, restoring and rebuilding relationships for and with combatants that are tired of the same old recurring arguments. I help them replace shame with pride. I help them reduce unbearable tension with serenity. It is such a privilege to ask the right questions, with the necessary respect and neutrality. And to be able to do so with a wide range of earnest clients!

That makes every day exciting and different.

Some just want to return to effective functioning. Others, including couples, parents, managers and other leaders, seek extraordinary team work. Fifty years after Mr. G’s problem-posing geometry class, I am still thrilled with the process of finding solutions to challenging, fascinating problems. There was never an equally interesting career. It is fun for me to artfully elicit the best from the human equation.

I am so lucky to become part of my client’s spiritual journey from pain to joy, as each client co creates more effective conversations with the ones they love or lead.