Breaking Restraints with Chris Treacher

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November 4, 2020

Breaking Restraints with Chris Treacher

As the Te Ara o Tākitimu students near their fourth semester, many are preparing for their transition into the workforce and apprenticeships. In anticipation, Māori & Pasifika mentor, Chris Treacher, took the time to share some wisdom with the students. His kaupapa was centred on the impact of restraints and how we can work to overcome them. He accompanied his kōrero with an awesome activity as follows:

The exercise started with each student holding a long piece of string.

Chris asked, "I need you to tell me about the word, "Restraint". What does it mean to you?" The students rattled off different answers including, "something that holds you back", "getting your rights and privileges taken away", and "a barrier". He then asked "What is an item that causes restriction?". More student opinions where shared until they came up with the final answer of handcuffs.

The students where then instructed to tie the long pieces of string around their wrists, forming handcuffs. They were paired up, and the cuffs were linked together, causing the string to restrain their movements. The objective of the exercise, was to free yourself from the restraints without breaking the string or slipping it off your hands. The hall erupted with confused laughter as the students struggled to untie themselves.

After a time, the room was asked to stop and show the hands of who had successfully escaped the string handcuffs. There were only 2-3 groups, who then shared the technique and helped a few others. The majority were still bound.

Chris then shared what he referred to as the "method to his madness". Too many people were stuck looking at the strongest part of the restraint, which is where the cuffs are linked or bound. Trying to unlink the strings via the strongest part proved inefficient and was near impossible to solve. The students that were successful had looked at the restraint as a whole to find the weakest part of the problem, the wrist. When they attacked the problem at its weakness, the restraint was easily overcome.

Too often we aren't looking at our problems through the right lense. Often we stay stuck on the wrong aspects of a problem, without analysing situations as a whole. To further his point, he shared a great method of analysing called The 3 Perspectives.

He used his experience as a jump ropes inspector to explain the perspectives:

  1. The Big Picture.
    How: Look around completely unobstructed.
    Example: Viewing the jump ropes course as a whole. This perspective is great to see the problem as a whole, but it's hard or even impossible to focus on the details. You will need to use a closer perspective to get a better idea on how you could resolve your problems.
  2. Tunnel Vision.
    How: Hold your two hands on either side of your eyes, blocking your peripheral vision.
    Example: Viewing a single course. This method narrows down your perspective to what is right in front of you. You can focus on one element of the problem.

  3. Focus.
    How: Cover one eye and make binocular hands over the other eye.
    Example: Viewing every detail of the single course ie. ropes & joints. This is the perspective you need to be able to understand and tackle the big problems. This is how we identify the weaknesses, as opposed to only viewing the bigger picture (the strongest part).

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