The Core Question - A reflective journey
Favorite Quotes 
Things do not change; we change.
Henry David Thoreau

Introduction to "The Core Question"

During the course of our lives, we struggle for identity from the time we are born to the day we die. Discovering our true identity or answering the question ”Who Am I?” is very common for so many of us. While some of us have a better sense of this than others, a second question arises that is perhaps more challenging, but related to the first. We also seek to understand what our life purpose is or another question we struggle with and muse about is “What do I want to do when I grow up?”

We all have a sense of uniqueness that is truly our own experience as we spend a lot of time actively or passively pursuing answers to these questions. Looking deeper into these questions highlights one of the bigger dilemmas of human nature — to understand our identity, or in other words our purpose, has become a pastime that can be frustrating as well as consuming.

We strive to understand things in our life that do not make sense or just don’t fit together. After all, we didn’t come with a manual. It is this point that I have dwelled on in great detail, as this question has bothered my problem solving mind for some time. Developing my problem solving mind has been greatly enhanced by my career, which was to design and develop large-scale computer systems for many Fortune 250 companies for nearly 20 years.

Starting young as a jigsaw puzzle builder, I was able to complete a 1,000 piece puzzle in a day as an eight year old — when I put my mind to it. Yet even then life would sometimes get in the way in a family of two male and three female siblings, totaling six, that were raised Roman Catholic to a man of modest income in a Northeastern city known for cold, snowy winters and beautiful summers.

Where my problem-solving nature came from is not completely understood by me, but it is somehow otherwise inherent in who I am, like it or not. In many ways, it has been a blessing and a curse like all things powerful we don’t completely understand, as it can easily become a doubleedged sword. My double-edged sword was further compounded by the inconsistency of information and events around me. Things didn’t always seem to be what they were presented as and the difference confused me.

When I was young, it seemed in some way that I was trying to do one jigsaw puzzle that was actually several sets of puzzle pieces all mixed into one. It appeared as a very complex problem, when in fact it was several sets of problems. As I grew older, the trick, I discovered, was to separate these mixed-up puzzles and their pieces to be solved individually.

If you have ever tried to solve a complex problem, you know that you have to break the problem down into smaller and more manageable problems and begin by solving those first. This is also the nature of solving, and then building any large and complex computer system, which is what I did as a systems developer and computer programmer for many years. For me, all of that practice was a lot of fun yet challenging as it brought so many variables into play. The challenges it posed were in some ways very similar to the challenges of growing up and understanding the variety of variables that went into those questions around Who am I? What do I (really) want to do with my life? How do I get there?

The challenges around my double- edged sword growing up were compounded when, at the age of twelve, my seventeen- year old older brother was killed in an automobile accident. If the pieces were all mixed up before that, things really started to get confusing for me now. It happened one cold night in December just before Christmas where he was here one moment and gone the next.

Death is a difficult thing in itself to comprehend, but, to a twelve year old already confused by all the misinformation in his life, this added levels that deeply compounded the nature of that core question — Who am I?, — into a scope that would take many years and perhaps a lifetime to resolve. I say a lifetime because the confusion or misinformation does not necessarily stop with a single traumatic event and additional elements as such will further compound or deepen one’s core question.

In my case, it was compounded seventeen years later with the passing of my other brother dying of AIDS at the age of thirty-two. Add this to the misinformation around sexuality, religion, and one big confusing pile of stuff — all that defied explanation, much less resolve of any kind. In these depths of not only despair, but bankruptcy, homelessness and isolation came some answers that I stumbled across or sometimes hit me over the head. These answers and how I got to them is what I will share with you, and keep in mind for now, the key word here is how.

I’ll come back to the importance of how later and say that this material comes from a deep and inherent understanding of problem solving and formal training in computer science, computer programming, systems development and a touch of artificial intelligence thrown in to boot. I tell you this now because if you didn’t know or think about it, we humans developed computers after the way we think. In essence, we think like computers because we created them to do repetitive and other tasks that we didn’t want to do. My understanding and depth were strengthened as I used a variety of different programming languages as well as taught some of those programming languages in classes at several universities.

In addition to my programming background, I had formal training around psychology, counseling, nutrition, and some less traditional fields like hypnotherapy, yoga, NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), guided imagery, and even handwriting analysis, to help me understand the human side of the equation. We do think like computers but the biggest difference is that computers do not emote whereas we humans do.

We all like the story of the phoenix, the mythical bird that magically rises from the ashes when all looked lost. My book is a bit like that except I will demystify the rising or, in our case, what the rebuilding is all about and more so how it is done. We didn’t come with a manual, but I do strongly believe this book can give you a framework of what that looks like for you.

This is not a book telling you to do as I did, which may be a difficult idea to comprehend in the world of self help help books. It is however, about learning to become aware of who you are, understanding how you think and creating or being able to manifest change in a way that suits you by allowing you to create your own framework and manual that makes your life very user (self) friendly and fun. You also know that once you are in that state, it is easier to share that with one another, relationally speaking or with many others, neighborly or globally speaking.

When it comes to personal growth, I suspect that for many of you, this is not the first book you have read on this subject. One of the things that is different about this book, however, is that it doesn’t tell you what to do, but creates a pathway of learning based in your own personal experience. Each of our personal experiences will vary wildly, so you should know that yours is different from mine and from the person standing next to you or across the planet.

This book, however, will take you on a journey of your own experience and allow you not only to understand that better, but assist you in letting go of some parts that no longer serve you as well as reframing that information into something that does work for you. The whole model is essentially based on the three steps or phases of awareness, understanding and manifesting.

That may sound simple, perhaps over simplified, but it really can be as easy as 1-2-3 because the premise to simplify one’s mindset around personal growth and refinement is not only valid, but makes the whole process more attainable. With this in mind and like the phoenix, let our (your) flight begin!