The nuclear option

As a corporate instructor, amongst many things, I was responsible for traveling the world delivering high-end, instructor-led, information technology courses to customers, partners, and internal employees.

One such huge assignment had me travel to Beijing, China. My employer trusted I’d get the job done. Lots of money, time and resources were allocated to ensure success.

Once the project was finalized, I purchased my airline tickets, and secured hotel reservations. All was set.

Several months pass. It’s now time to travel to Beijing, China. The first leg of my flight was from Newark, NJ to Tokyo, Japan. The second leg was from Tokyo to Beijing, China.

Upon arriving in Tokyo, I needed to check-in at the China Airlines ticket counter. As I approached the counter, the attendant requested to see my airline ticket, passport and visa.

I presented my airline ticket and passport. The attendant says, “May I see your visa please?” I said, “Excuse me!” The attendant repeated, “I need to see your visa!” I said, “I don’t have one.” With an assertive voice, the attendant then said, “You won’t be entering China!”

She further went on to say the fastest I could acquire a visa was in 3 days. That was just not an option! I‘m supposed to deliver this course in 1 day! There was just no way I was going to call management, and tell them I screwed up! Me dropping the ball in this manner was totally unacceptable! Dependability is a hallmark of my DNA!

Because of this, I had to invoke the nuclear option! Nuclear option means do whatever is necessary (legally) to solve a problem! Period!

Through my conversation with the counter attendant, I figured out a way to enter China without a visa! I found a loophole! From Tokyo, I purchased a ticket to Hong Kong, with a stopover in Shanghai, China. With the stopover, I was granted a 24-hour visa, which allowed me to enter China!

Upon my arrival in Shanghai, China, I purchased a one-way ticket, and flew to Beijing, instead of catching my connecting flight to Hong Kong! I stayed in Beijing for 5 days to deliver the course. I must say, I was scared to death because I knew my presence was illegal!

Once the week ended, I returned to Beijing’s airport. As I approached the immigration counter, they looked at my paperwork, and then hit the “red” button! Two immigration officers immediately grabbed, and took me to the back room!

They began interrogating me! I knew they wouldn’t understand, or accept what I did. My strategy was to simply play dumb, and act like I didn’t know what was going on!

I repeatedly kept saying, “No! I don’t understand (in semi-broken English)!”

The immigration officials eventually gave up. They physically motioned they wanted money! I pulled out my American Express card. They said they wanted cash, and escorted me to the local ATM machine. They forced me to take out the max amount of money (approximately $400), and sign paperwork written in Chinese.

Eventually, I was allowed to catch my flight home.

In hindsight, I went too far to enter China. But the point of the story demonstrates my mentality to solve a problem, or resolve an issue!

At Youth Hoops Basketball Camps, I encourage kids to become great at solving problems. As they say, one who consistently solves problems will likely be the most successful in the game of life.

Encourage your kid to be problem solvers, and never give excuses! In other words, have them invoke the nuclear option, if necessary!

About the author 

Coach Berry

John Berry (a.k.a. Coach Berry) has been a basketball coach and skill development trainer since 1993 and has coached hundreds of games and instructed 1,000’s of kids. Coach Berry is, and always has been committed to helping youth in life and on the basketball court.