When I began learning Rolfing, I wanted someone to give me THE set of techniques that would produce the change I experienced when I was Rolfed. Quickly I realized with Dr. Rolf’s perspective that I wasn’t going to be taught any techniques.
She would challenge her students with the question, “What do you want to be: a cook or a chef?”
We are led to believe that we can do amazing things if we have a set of techniques. Learning from books teaches us about a topic. Learning from experience teaches us how to use our knowledge.
I was confused when I started my training — Rolfers refer to the sequence of the basic ten series of sessions as The Recipe. If cooks use recipes, how were Rolfers to be chefs?
I realized the recipe was not a series of moves or techniques, but a sequence of principles built upon each other. Dr. Rolf saw that to create deep, sustainable change, you need to reorganize the body as you remove chronic stress in the myofascia. To do that, you have to work on certain areas in a particular order. She nailed the order.
Knowing how we are traditionally taught, she devised a way to teach ten basic sessions with little technique. Soon after finishing my training and starting my practice, I became concerned that I had missed something in my training. I found myself veering from The Recipe. When I attended advanced training, I quickly realized that the problem was my interpretation of The Recipe.
I focused more on the steps and not on the principles. The advanced training was all about the principles which set me free to learn how to be a chef.
Contradictory to tactics, hacks, and shortcuts, principles and themes are timeless. The story of Anne-Sophie Pic, the owner of the five-star restaurant located in Valence, France illustrates what it takes to be a chef. Working her way up, she learned through experience.
Chefs do not start out in a fast-food restaurant that requires no thinking or skills – just the ability to follow a set of predetermined rules. Chefs start out washing dishes in a premiere restaurant in which they want to be a chef someday. They watch, ask, and perform the manual tasks to learn the basics less in their heads and more in their bodies.
A chef on the road to mastery understands there is no endpoint – it is a journey with constant learning and serving. Like Anne-Sophie Pic, who brought back her family’s restaurant learning “the business” by washing the dishes, a chef is willing to do the grunt work because their goal is bigger than feeding people.
Like a young, impatient future chef or the young, naive Rolfer I was, we often start our journey to mastery in a hurry, missing the subtitles that are the keys to mastery. Slowing down to observe and apply the nuances requires focus on more than the immediate goal. If immediate success is the goal. mastery does not happen. If a deeper passion or purpose becomes the driver, you may have what you need to sustain yourself through the challenge of developing your craft.
I have Dr. Rolf to thank for teaching me the value of slow learning. The enthusiasm of a 23-year-old was not the passion of a man committed to a bigger purpose. Dr. Rolf’s and Anne-Sophie Pic’s approach to their craft is our approach at EVRYMAN.
Over the years of stewarding groups, I learned that the groups and the men in them travel this journey of mastery. We want the formula to creating a successful group. Getting the most out of a group or being a group leader requires developing a new way to learn. As subtle as that way is, once learned, you can apply that approach to other aspects of your life.
Watching men’s journey in EVRYMAN continues to be one of the most rewarding pleasures of my life. What I saw in groups, I now see in EVRYMAN – men are allowing themselves to be taught through experience.
Realize that the way in which EVRYMAN is set up is not how we were taught to learn. It is good that you feel frustrated, confused, and impatient. We all want a simple path to success, particularly when we have been told that we will succeed if we learn what is in the books. The closest book we have for EVRYMAN is the MELT Manual, and that is a book of principles and skills, not techniques.
How is your relationship to learning your craft a metaphor for other parts of your life?