Building a Foundation
In this method of problem-solving, we borrow ideas from a number of disciplines. Grasp the Monkey by the Tail, borrows an idea from the world of dance: the idea of the Basic Dance Step.
Dance styles are built up from one or more basic dance steps. Beginners start by learning the basic dance step, which they then practice to music—that is, in context. From the basic dance step, they progress to more complicated dance steps which are modifications of the basic dance step, combined in various ways. Learning dance steps evolves into learning to dance. With practice, the mechanics of memorized dance steps gives way to the free flow of personal expression.
Grasp the Monkey by the Tail is the basic dance step of our problem-solving method. More advanced steps are created by combining modifications of the basic step. Finally, as with dance, rigid stepping gives way to the free flow of personal expression.
As with dance, the true purpose of our problem-solving method is the free flow of personal expression.
Grasp the Monkey by the Tail begins with a brief description of a problem. Sometimes, people find problems too negative, so it’s okay to state a goal instead. Goals are positive restatements of problems, as problems are negative restatements of goals. Neither is good or bad. They are almost—but not quite—interchangeable.
Still, comfort is important. If problems are too uncomfortable, goals work well in their place.
Next, we invite a small amount of negative thinking—just enough to not be too uncomfortable. It’s like yoga. Stretch enough to feel better than you started, not so much that you feel worse than a moment before.
Step two is to think about what you don’t like about the problem. Step three is to think about possibilities for improving what you don’t like.
Steps four and five are to think about what you do like about the problem, and possibilities for making these things even better.
Step six is to think about alternatives to the problem. How else might you want to use your time and energy other than to work on the problem?
Finally, we cap the sequence with a special modification: First Little Steps. The purpose of First Little Steps has more to do with rhythm, in the musical sense, than steps toward accomplishment. These are things that pop into your head as something you really want to do, please don’t forget. They aren’t things you have to do in order to succeed. Fail to do them and you fail.
As in dance, timing is everything. How you step through the steps of the workshop establishes rhythm. It is an art that you learn by practicing. First Little Steps continues the rhythm you set, and carries it out into the world.
As First Little Steps becomes ingrained in your body, you will find yourself following through on commitments as if they were the most natural thing in the world. Rhythm.
After one or more Grasp the Monkey by the Tail workshops, we recommend taking a full Getting the Monkey Off Your Back. While there is nothing wrong with starting with Getting the Monkey Off Your Back, people seem to find it easier after they have learned the basic step of Grasp the Monkey by the Tail.
Getting the Monkey Off Your Back consists of two opposing Grasp the Monkey by the Tail steps, followed by an Eyes on the Prize step, and capped off with a First Little Steps.
Getting the Monkey Off Your Back is a like a dance. After building dynamic tension between What Is and What Might Be—two basic steps—the dance resolves into a surprise: The Prize. The basic step was learned in Grasp the Monkey by the Tail, but the outcome here is very different.
Our other workshops delve into specific trouble spots that are common in our society, including time, money, community, career, etc. Each workshop delivers a special surprise. The surprise of knowing how you want to handle the subject. And more. The surprise of actually being happy about it.