Character Chats

Using Resilience to Solve Problems

Using our resilience to solve problems.

Here at True Balance Karate, we have a social emotional learning program called True Character. I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio.

And this month we are talking about resilience.

Problem-Solving Skills

This week we’re talking about how we use that resilience to help us solve our problems. And I’m actually reminded of a time when I was teaching math class to a group of sixth graders and the co-teacher and I, we were demonstrating how to solve a math problem. And it went something like, you have 430 something gallons of milk and you sell like two thirds of them, and of the third that’s left, you need to order 60% or something like that. And it was a complicated math problem. And it’s took us the entire hour. We were demonstrating, “we tried this, it didn’t work. We tried that, it didn’t work.”

And at the end of the math lesson, one of our students raised his hand and he goes, “When am I ever going to need to know this?” And the short answer that we gave him was, “Well, solving this particular problem, probably never. But you do need to know when you’ve got a solution that makes sense. You do need to understand when your answer makes sense in the problem and when your answer doesn’t.”

And that’s what we’re talking about today when it comes to our resilience. When does your answer make sense for the problem and when does it not? And in order to get to that point, we need to start by recognizing what is the problem? What is the problem that we have right now?

Finding Solutions

So let’s take for example, we are seven years old and we’re learning how to ride a bike and we keep falling down. What is the problem? Well, the problem is we keep falling off of our bike. Great. We’ve identified the problem. We know exactly what it is. We have to come up with some solutions. It could be practice more, it could be put the training wheels back on. It could be take a break for five minutes and come back. It could be don’t pedal, just practice the balance parts. It could be having somebody help hold it more, a little while longer.

That’s five solutions right there that we could try. Five different ways. We could help ourselves solve the problem of falling off of our bike. And then we pick one. That’s what we do. We pick one. We try each solution and we figure out which one’s working best to help us get to our goal, to help us get to the point of where we want to be.

Riding our bike is kind of an easy example. The math problem I gave is not as easy. I must have shown those students five different things that I had tried and explained my thinking so that they knew that I knew the first answer was wrong because of this reason. I knew the second answer was wrong because of this reason, so that they could understand the logic stream along the way. And when I’m talking with my almost college-aged student, now she’s graduating this year, we talk through, okay, how can we solve this problem? What else can we do? You need to get this and this and this accomplished. What do we need to do?

Prioritizing Problems

To an extent solving problems using resilience is a little like prioritizing. Which solution do we think is going to help us solve the problem that we’re faced. For many of us, not all, but many of us facing problems and asking that first question of what is the actual issue? That’s a really daunting, difficult task because if you’re like me, you have difficulty recognizing that there is one. You’re like, I’m just going to fix it. Well, what are we fixing? But I’m just going to fix it. But what are we fixing? And so I wind up personally becoming somewhat stubborn and trying to fix it without taking a moment and identifying what it is that needs to be addressed, what it is that’s causing an issue, a problem, a situation, a feeling, whatever that may be.

Once we’ve identified that piece of it, then we can start listing out all the different ways we could possibly go about solving it. Does it involve getting more people in for help? Does it involve passing the task on to somebody else because it’s a work related problem? Does it involve taking a break? Does it involve sitting down and working through it in a different direction? There’s lots of different ways to solve a problem. We just have to then figure out which one it is. And from there we look at all of our possible solutions and we prioritize which ones are we going to start with? Which one are we going to start with? Which one are we going to do second? And we keep learning and growing from those experiences of trying to solve the problem.

And when we learn and grow from those experiences, that’s when we wind up practicing our resilience. That’s when we become the rubber band that has bounced back and learned and grown outside of our comfort zone. And that’s what makes resilience such an important tool to helping us solve problems.

Thanks, and I’ll see you on the mat!


True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here