“Solving the Rubik’s Cube”: Applying Patterns to Get the Results You Want

About 90% of our staff at NCG/GK had the wonderful opportunity, provided by the company, to attend National Congress in San Jose this past weekend. Additionally, we were given tickets to see the Olympic Trails! We had a great time and the amount of information that was available to soak up and apply back at the gym was insurmountable.

As we were flying home late Sunday night, one of our staff members, Coach Gary, randomly pulls out a Rubik’s Cube. I begin to watch him as he begins to change, switch and move the different sides of the cube. His adjustments are quick and I begin to notice the sequencing he’s applying. Oh my, he’s figured this out before and he’s about to solve it! I start to get a little excited as I’ve never seen one solved live before. With a few more turns and changes, all the colors are all together on each side as clearly the puzzle is solved. We both have headphones in; I take mine out to tap him on the shoulder and say….”How the heck did you do that so quickly?”

He removes his headphones and begins to explain that after many attempts, he figured out the pathway/sequence for each step after starting from the core. He wrote out and made a “map” as his main goal, he said, was to be able to teach it: “I haven’t fully mastered it until I can teach it to someone else.” Always wanting to learn myself, I happily offered to be his first student. He brought out the map he had made (yes, he brought it with him) and started to show me where to start and how to solve this infamous puzzle for the remainder of our flight.

Obviously, I am still working on solving the cube, but being a metaphorical thinker whom analyzes everything; I believe this is a wonderful example of skill building to solve any problem you may encounter. Whether it be in your gymnastics world or your personal world; developing thought patterns, behaviors, and action plans to tackle the puzzles you are trying to solve promotes confidence and you are therefore inclined to take on greater challenges and risks. You begin to realize that you have a “tool belt” with which you store your techniques, systems, and skills with each obstacle you overcome. You start to realize that following these particular patterns often gets you the result you are looking for. This particularly applies to working within a team which, like the Rubik’s Cube, the goal is to get every side the same – get your team on the same page. Then, just as Coach Gary says, you want to be able to teach another the skills that helped you so much. You’re not a master until you’re a teacher.

As with overcoming every/any problem, challenge, obstacle, etc; you must start at the core of the issue. There are immovable blocks within the center of the Cube and any path must go around those immovable blocks. What are your immovable blocks? What cannot move and what pathways are you allowing to find other avenues to achieve your goal? For example, if you find your butting heads with a fellow gymnast on your team, are you going to move your block of showing good sportsmanship just because this teammate does not exemplify what should be a common and shared side? Figuring out what you are not willing to move first (knowing your limits) often allows for more creativity in finding ways to confidently find what will work for you in the long run.

After figuring out your immovable blocks; what is the first step of movement to achieving the goal? For example, you know you need to attend practice on a regular basis regardless of harmonious camaraderie with your team. The thought patterns at the moment may be, Gah! I don’t know why this person doesn’t like me and is insistent on making my life miserable in practice! Perhaps making the change in your thought pattern of, What if this person is going through a really hard time in their own life, they are not sure how to deal with it, so they are acting out? What if it has nothing to do with me? See how your day goes then just by changing something you can control.

Our lives, from the moment we are born, are large puzzles. Puzzles that will be solved in pieces of time, experience, and constant awareness. Take the time to celebrate the victories, meditate on the fails and works in progress, and never stop trying to find more pathways to get to where you want to be. Where there’s a will, there’s a Rubik’s Cube way!

“Solving this thing is like a metaphor for life. It’s like Mt. Everest: it looks impossible, but you just go one little step at a time.” -Coach Gary