The Book

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This book is a personal statement. The ideas presented here were developed over a lifetime as an engineer, business manager, and entrepreneur. Endless hours were spent observing and attempting to solve problems in both my corporate and personal worlds.

I was drawn to study why some problems seem intractable and how people fail to communicate, even when both parties had their facts straight and their logic was correct. The resulting theories and methods are my opinions, but they are backed by solid research from highly credible authorities. Hopefully, what I write here may help others understand and solve some of their own dilemmas and conflicts. My goal in writing this book is to introduce a new technique of problem solving which I call the Area of Enlightenment method of analysis. It is my belief that the simple cross-axis figure of the Area of Enlightenment model can be adapted by the people who read this book and used to solve individual and personal problems whether they occur in the home or in the workplace, or in the larger spheres of community, politics and religion.

We are all, in some way, trying to eliminate problems in society. In this book, I hope to provide readers with insights into how they can take opposing perspectives and find common ground. Even if unanimous solutions cannot be agreed upon in particularly insidious conflicts such as abortion rights, use of the Area of Enlightenment technique with non-resolvable issues will illuminate the opposing viewpoints and expand the participants’ understanding. I hope to teach the reader how to explore a minimum of four perspectives when at first there seemed to be only one right way. This book proclaims “the Emperor has no clothes” in many areas held dear to both the politically correct and to the religious right, among others. I am hopeful that all readers will keep an open mind and complete the chapters before they become too upset, since they may find the “other side” takes a hit as well and the things they agree with are represented. So, please be patient and consider the conflicting perspectives.

Rarely are problems strictly black and white or the absolute I’m right and you’re wrong. Nor is the best answer necessarily found at some discrete place along the gray scale between the two extremes. Almost everyone can recognize that when an argument occurs with two extreme positions—mine and yours—the truth lies somewhere in between. In many cases, an unexpected universe exists on each side of that line, which explains why some arguments seem so tenacious. If the two positions are unknowingly not about the same attributes, then plotting them at right angles gives a new perspective.

When conflict is exposed using the proposed cross-axis model, separation of components becomes possible. It is in these added dimensions that answers multiply mathematically and the number of possible interpretations increase geometrically. With the unearthing of several previously hidden options, potential solutions increase and resolution becomes possible. The Area of Enlightenment method of analysis can take the most confusing and emotionally charged conflicts and in minutes determine additional options.

The solutions to all the world’s problems are not contained in this book. This volume was designed to show many examples of how the Area of Enlightenment can be applied to problems and thus, attempt to teach the reader how to gain perspective on the dilemmas and obstacles in their own environment. We cannot help the world unless we first take care of ourselves. So, if this book provides the tools to take care of yourself and the people around you, then your next step is addressing the problems of the world (^_^).

The inclusion of controversial subjects and examples is deliberate. I hope to stimulate thinking and allow people to become flexible enough to overcome cultural stereotypes and biases. The use of “bait and switch.” is also deliberate. I want to expand the way people think about things. Also, I firmly believe a person who brings up problems is obligated to provide reasonable solutions—otherwise they compound the problem. As a result, certain explosive topics, such as the implications of nurture and nature , may at first seem to lead to a politically-correct or a religious-right error. But I urge the reader to have faith.

Occasionally, the examples used in this book may seem extreme. This is intentional because the extremes of the Area of Enlightenment are very thinly populated and by citing examples at the extremes, I exaggerate for clarity. If there is disagreement with my approach, fine, that is everyone’s privilege. My readers’ choice of experts may be different than mine, even though I was careful in my selection. And of course, readers should form their own opinions about the validity and applicability of my conclusions. If the Area of Enlightenment approach helps to learn how to expand insight when resolving problems, then I have achieved my purpose.

This is a book for people who want to learn to recognize the bigger issues behind the arguments of a conflict. It is for people who want to solve business problems, social conflicts, and personal dilemmas by uncovering the hidden agendas, the unrecognized belief systems, and how, in many cases, a person’s genetic nature, interacting with their imprinted nurturing affects the results. This book will also be of use to the social workers in the trenches, therapists with real patients, and to the layperson uncomfortable with the advice of “experts” who I define here as people with great academic skills but no real experience in the field. Although many opposing forces might be offended by some of the opinions rampant in this book, I have tried to present solutions that go beyond simplistic, formulaic, or judgmental boundaries. This will lead the politically correct to jump to incorrect prejudgments of some of the chapters, especially those involving the effects of nature versus nurture . What I have tried to do is to provide solutions that do not involve the specter of the eugenics movement that (correctly) strikes terror into the hearts of the politically correct. The problem is that in denying the effects of genes to avoid the eugenics problem, the politically correct movement denies a large spectrum of solutions, thus harming some of the very people the politically correct wanted to help.

I have included a section at the end of the book on non-resolvable issues . Fact-based issues can usually be resolved and the Area of Enlightenment method of analysis will hopefully provide an unbiased tool to cut to the heart of problems. However, issues that are based upon conjecture beliefs or faith often cannot be resolved at all. The Area of Enlightenment will still be very useful in that its analytical structure will illuminate differences quickly and with clarity.

Please be sure to read the Introduction and Section I first, as they lay the groundwork for establishing nomenclature and graphics. Subsequent chapters are intended to stand on their own and can be read in any order. I am most appreciative of the help from my wife, Dolores, M.J. Cody, and from writer Carla Perry.

Norm Winningstad

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