October 1, 2010

For that, you have to be Superman!

Jan Kuipers told me a nice example of a solution-focused conversation he had had with a young school child. Paul is boy who has driven his teacher to despair by pushing all the light buttons every time he walks out of the class room. The teacher has told him time and again not to do that, but he just keeps on doing it, claiming he can not leave it.

Jan met Paul and asked him whether he had an idea about how he could walk out of the classroom without pushing the buttons. Paul thought for a second and answered: "That is so hard, for that, you have to be Superman!" Jan smiled and thought for a second. Then he asked: “Oh, is that right, can Superman do it? Can you show me how he does that?" Paul answered: “I can't, for that I need to have Superman with me!" "Aha, I understand”, Jan said, "and do you have Superman?” “Yes, I do!” said Paul enthusiastically, “Shall I get him?” “Ok, do it”, Jan said and Paul ran out of the classroom.

When Paul returned, one minute later, Jan asked: "Hey Paul, what did I see just now? You ran out of the classroom without hitting the light buttons.... How did you do that?” Paul smiled a big smile and proudly held a small key hanger with a Superman puppet on it in the air. At the end of the conversation Paul walked out of the classroom. Slowly he walked past the light buttons. When he was right next to them he lifted his Superman puppet in the air and proudly he walked past them without pushing them.


  1. Thank you Rodney. By the way, may I take this opportunity to wish you a happy birthday?

  2. As a teacher and counselor I love those stories. Once a young girl came to me, she wanted to get rid of the frequent thoughts of failure, not knowing anything, daring nothing etc. I asked her if she knew people who think a lot, but mostly "normal, nice" things. She didn't. We both went on thinking. Suddenly she smiled and said: "COWS!". As a daughter of a farmer I liked it a lot. The girl trained herself in having "cow-thoughts" as we called it. After a week she mailed me: At school I have good feelings and good thoughts now. I have already made three dances of joy with my friends because of the little steps (thinking good thoughts) I made. It even feels pretty nice to dare some things!
    Having "cow-thoughts", who would think of that as a solution??

  3. That's the nice thing, isn't it? Clients often come up with solutions we realize, once we hear them, we could never have come up with


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