Meta-Processes: This article was originally written by me and posted in October 2000, as a plain-text essay for the website of my friend Richard Wanderman. It is still hosted there at Richard's LD Resources site.

When I wrote the article, neither of us envisioned that my idea of "the process that comes before the process" would develop into so many pages and layers of experience and reflection.

This version is the unchanged text of that posting, reformatted in styled text, and framed for convenient browing. It is a large article. Styling, numbered points and a scrollable index of key paragraphs have all been added to aid visual navigation. There is a lot to think about in the article, and it was never conceived to be easy sledding.

It took five months, from a June draft to the October posting, to compose the article. There is very little that I would change today. I've always been aware that some of us are easily intimidated or put off by long articles.

The Web HTML mark-up format is ideally suited for organizing larger writing projects into recognizable blocks. A web format should offer viewers the ability to pick out high-level patterns at a glance, something that comes from a plain text document only with much coaxing and note-taking.

One of the issues that originally concerned me about my article is that it could be confused with chest-beating. I draw upon personal examples from mountain climbing, piloting aircraft, motorcycle racing, computer programming -- all very trendy stuff that happened to be the topic of the day to me, at the time I was gathering the experience I would one day try to write about.

To paraphrase a quote attributed to one Lord Balfour, nothing I have accomplished in life should matter very much to others, and few things should matter very much at all. I have few regrets about learning everything the hard way, but, at a younger age, I must have said, "why didn't anybody tell me about these things?" I'm sure they tried.

The narrative device of using the first person singular can be very delicate, but it is an old method I learned in peer group discussions. It doesn't put anybody else on the spot. It doesn't posture as a world-class philosophy that anybody with any brains needs to buy into right away. Properly done, it merely relates what the speaker has learned through first-hand experience.

"I", for all its faults, avoids excessive presumptive use of "they", "you" and "we", which leave open the rhetorical trick of asserting that I shouldn't have to explain what I mean, because you should already know what I'm referring to. This would not be a good article for people who affect the air of being an authority on all things, without explaining anything.

"That's just the way I see it" -- like "that's just the way I am" -- is never an acceptable answer at

It is not clear in my article whether the intended audience is the very young - those just starting out on the great adventure - or those who have been around the block a time or two. I don't think it makes any difference. Most of the lessons in life that I consider important to me, I learned relatively late in the game. I don't think it has to be that way. The article stresses that it doesn't matter as much when in life we learn a given lesson, as that we remain open to doing so.

Personal growth is not a topic restricted to the young, or to those undergoing mid-life crisis. It is not some vapid emotional frenzy that many, comfortably in the prime of life, avoid as "touchy-feely" new age stuff. Personal growth is about the nuts and bolts of planning and building a happy, successful future. I hope the article makes the distinction clear.

Alex Forbes
July 28, 2001