An approach to challenges that is:
1) Action focused
2) Through performance of specific tasks
3) To achieve functional stability

Involves three important steps:
1) Review the information provided.
2) Reflection: this is constant and ongoing by the individual involves accumulation of information and reflecting how it is consistent with the results that they want.
3) Reinforce that direction and goals through repetition of appropriate task.

These steps are dynamic and not static, the results you want may change (see the chapter on change) from moment or over an extended period of time and so these steps may change as circumstance changes (hence the need for constant reflection).

It is ironic that the introduction is actually the last chapter that you write in any project but it makes sense actually - it is only after you have put things down in a manner that finally makes sense to you that you can write the chapter that hopefully helps make sense to everybody else.

It has been quite a journey trying to put down in words, concepts and tactics that I am very familiar with, but for me existed only in my mind I had come to know these things intuitively but did not have words for them - in my mind they are organized the way they need to be and make perfect sense. Articulating it in a manner that it would make sense to someone else has been a challenge and continues to be an evolving process - writing the books (My Handbook & Your Workbook) and creating the website are the first steps in trying to make what I have discovered, useful and understandable to someone else other than myself.

I tried to write the book the way I think and talk (trying to keep it authentic) but as one of my friends who read the draft copy pointed out they were frustrated by my lack of proper punctuation marks and grammatical structure! So I will not be submitting this for an English thesis but would simply point out that the manner in which it is written is deliberate and not accidental and as you start to look beyond the grammar you start to appreciate the subtleties inserted to help change your preconceptions and perceptions.

My son pointed out after reading the book (2 years after I had written) and applying the principles quite successfully that it may be found useful only by individuals who are seeking such an approach and stumble upon it and that for most people it may be difficult to understand or relate to. I appreciate his feedback and understand that this approach will not appeal to everyone my challenge is to make sure that this is not because of my inability to articulate these ideas and it is simply the individual’s choice to try something different.

The ‘hungry person at a buffet’ is an analogy I use to try understand how I can be a better facilitator. Earlier on in my medical career if a patient presented with a psychological challenge I started to think of how best to help them manage it or resolve it and I would often get frustrated by a lack of success with some patients. What I came to realize is that some people like to be hungry at a buffet - they will tell you how hungry they are but will completely refuse to realize that they are at a buffet and even when you succeed in making them see the buffet you still can’t make them eat. Not everyone is looking to resolve the challenges that they have even when they say they are.

This book unfortunately is not designed for a pre-contemplative individual or someone who is ambivalent about their need to do things differently. There are many useful books on the topic of motivation to change (Prochaska & diclemente 1983 are leading authorities on this) and I would advise that if you are pre-contemplative or unmotivated that you put the book down now and don’t waste your time!!

I have a lot of experience and expertise in counselling patients but often have difficulty in articulating this approach in a manner that resonates with individuals within a ‘thriving society’ (real life is not pretty and people who grow up here have been taught to expect and demand beauty)

If you throw a rope to someone who does not realize that they are drowning they would look at it and wonder why you are bothering them - this method resonates with someone in a survival reality or at least perceives a need to know more about surviving before they thrive.

If you find your self still reading despite my warning above then there is a good chance that you are more motivated than you think you are or belong to group that is actively looking for ways to get the results that they want. Indulge me while I make a case for why this approach is worth trying.

Perception is reality, it does not mean that everything we perceive is real however everything we perceive influences how we see and understand things. When my patients get sick they ask me how or why it happened? When you perceive yourself as healthy or when you perceive your environment as friendly that is the question you ask. The reality however is that we exist in a hostile environment (something is always trying to kill us - even our mother’s immune system would have disposed of us if we came to close) and the real question they should be asking when the become sick is why or how it has not happened until now. Dying is a lot easier than we think, living is the hard part. It is incumbent on anything that wants to exist to make every reasonable attempt to survive.

This is the method I have used to approach challenges (getting me from the unknown to a place of knowing) and though that does not guarantee that it will be useful to you I hope that by telling my story and sharing my challenges you would consider the possibility that it holds some of the answers that you seek.

The most important lesson I have learned is ‘Survive first and then thrive’

I introduce the idea of ‘Change’ as something you interact with and propose that this interaction can produce only two results :
1) The result you want or
2) The results that you don’t want (this includes results that you are indifferent to).

Becoming familiar and comfortable with the idea and process of change is an important first step.

If however this concept and my attempt to explain it are too abstract for you simply remember that anything you do can only result in two possible outcomes - the outcome that you want or the outcome that you don’t want - that is all that this chapter is trying to tell you.

Direction is within the context of the handbook is best defined as where an individual is headed at any point in time, it is not where they are facing or think that they are headed but determined by the alignment of their, thoughts, verbalized word and actions as outlined in visualize. I have proposed that the primary direction should always be “survive first and then thrive”.

All you need from this chapter is that you have to do the things that keep you alive (survive) before you can do the things that make you better (thrive).