Interview with Ron Doades

Why did you decide to create a new genre book--self-help fiction?
I will start by telling you that I am not a fan of traditional, non-fiction self-help books. I have read parts of many such books, but have found none them sufficiently engaging to read from cover to cover.

Generally, those books are often authored by gurus who attempt to repackage self-improvement ideas into their own branded approach and terminology. The books are usually written from a point of view of telling the reader that following the author’s formula will produce life-changing results. Moreover, those gurus’ basic premises are often conflicted. On the one hand, they are asserting that each of us has the power within us to produce the desired improvements. But, it only takes a few pages into many of these books for the author to reveal where the real self-improvement source lies. And, it is often some magical or mystical source outside us that has the ultimate difference-making power. Those gurus try to convince us that we can have it both ways—feeling empowered, but ceding the ultimate power to another/higher power.

You might counter with examples of people you know that have changed their lives from following the advice of some self-help gurus. I know some of those people, too. But, those changes were often short-lived, as the person typically lapsed back into their previous bad habits.

Those are the reasons I chose to not follow the conventional course. Rather, Realizing You, is aimed at engaging readers in the lives of fictional people who are becoming aware of and dealing with their bad habits—showing readers how they, too, can improve themselves, rather than telling them how to do it. I believe this is the best approach to helping people openly accept their personal bad behavioral habits, confront them, and commit to changing them. In approaching personal behavior bad habits openly and more non-defensively, I believe that readers will achieve permanently happier, more fulfilling lives—on their own.
What brought you to authoring Realizing You?
I began thinking about writing a book on best business management practices back in 1994, staying with the conventional non-fiction genre. The book was to be based on lessons learned from meetings with Fortune 500 companies in my management consulting practice. I led hundreds of these meetings with my energy-company clients. I pared down a list of over 80 significant lessons learned to a short list of ten that I thought would be very helpful to businesses and their employees in improving their management skills and corporate results.

While I consider myself to be a pretty good business writer, my consulting practice was so successful that I knew I didn’t have enough time to devote to writing the book; so, I hired a professional writer to translate my knowledge and drafts into a coherent book. We worked for several weeks on a formal book proposal that we planned to send to established publishers.

At that point in 1995, I lost interest in writing the book. Who would want to read my book? While I thought that I had a lot of new insights, the idea of a best-practices book seemed like I was not really adding much mind-gripping knowledge. For one thing, it would be similar in concept to the highly successful In Search of Excellence, written in the 1980’s. Moreover, I would have to go through the painstaking task of getting permission from the various companies cited as examples. It just seemed like too much work to author a book that was not an original concept. I was not at all convinced that the book would have much of an effect on changing people’s lives in their workplace. So, that idea of a conventional non-fiction book died a natural death.

But, I continued to think about and add to my knowledge of best business management practices. I continued to lead meetings with my energy-company clients, taking away something new from each and every meeting. I continued to talk with and interview family members and friends about best practices in their particular fields of endeavor. I continued to make notes and file them away. But still no breakthrough thinking on what a unique approach looked like.

Then, one night in 2008—14 years after my original book thoughts—I woke up from a deep sleep, thinking my book should not be non-fiction, but fiction. It should be story about imaginary people struggling to improve their lives. It should be a book that would engage readers in openly and non-defensively examining the ways some of their behavior habits are obstructing their own opportunities for happiness and for those around them.
Why do you think a fictional self-improvement book will help people more than a non-fictional one?
The original idea came from the learning method I have long applied in my management consulting practice. The method—proven to produce lasting change in people’s lives and those of the companies they work for—is based on the premise that the most effective and lasting learning is achieved through showing people models of success, instead of merely telling them about those models. My consulting firm’s long-lasting success derives from facilitating meetings where our clients learn first-hand what those highly successful companies have done and are doing to achieve success—how they manage their resources to achieve the best possible outcomes. After all, that’s what people in their private lives are striving to do—to make the best of what they have in meeting their individual happiness objectives.

So, after years of pondering the best self-improvement learning method, I realized that I need only apply the approach that has been so successful in my firm’s consulting business—show the way, not tell the way. My illuminating, break-through insight was on its way to becoming a reality. I was absolutely convinced that a fictional self-improvement book would greatly enable people to change their lives for the better. I had been living and breathing the answer to the quest of my book idea for 14 years, but didn’t recognize it. I was resolutely convinced that showing people the way to greater personal happiness would have the greatest, sustainable impact on their lives.
Is that a sunset or sunrise on the cover of Realizing You?
It all depends on your point of view. That point of view is the lens through which you lead your life—through which you experience living. You should be acutely aware of your point of view before cracking the book’s cover.

If you see the cover picture as sunset, ask yourself why. Perhaps it’s because that’s the way you lead your life, and the way you may view your future. Is the sun setting on your life? Do you view the future as if the best part of your life is over—as if you are just playing out the remainder of your life? Do you spend a lot of your time thinking about the past, instead of what’s going on in the present, and what you can do take to make your future as happy and fulfilling as possible? If you believe this does not describe your view of your life, and then move ahead. But, if it does, please keep that perspective in the front of your mind as you read Realizing You. Observe how some of the main characters wrestle with the “sunset” view of life, and what they do to let the “sunrise” view of life prevail—to let the sunshine into their souls. Engaging with those characters will help you to get maximum value from the book, and should make it a more fun reading adventure.

If you see the cover picture as a sunrise, ask yourself why. You might affirm yourself that you truly are looking forward to a bright, sunshiny future. If that positive, optimistic point of view is really who you are, keep that perspective in the front of your mind. It will help you to empathize with many of the characters and to learn many positive things that will help to motivate you to rise to greater heights of joy in your life. And, by opening yourself to letting even more sunshine into your life, you may discover things about your behavior that are blocking greater sunshine.
Where do Ideas come from?
I think ideas come from letting your subconscious mind freely interact with your conscious mind on a playing field of experiences and possibilities. If that high-sounding statement has not turned you, off, stay with me.

You may know that Disney’s creative sessions are based on the premise that there are no bad ideas. While some ideas are not really good ideas, even apparently bad ones—hysterically laughable—even the most incredulous ideas can open people’s minds to let in really game-changing thinking. Just imagine the thought processes of Steve Jobs and his associates in conceiving and designing Apple’s operating system, incorporating the visual characteristics that Mr. Jobs learned in a college art class.

It seems to me that authoring books follows the same ideation process. Really successful authors have the abilities to go where others dare not go. They are not afraid to risk looking foolish by putting their new ideas into books. We have examples galore of such successful writers. Are really successful writers good writers? By what and whose standards? While many successful writers may have learned grammatical rules in school, most of them have distinct writing styles that violate various rules.

For the purposes of this interview, I would like to conclude by asserting that successful writers are able to free their minds to create new ideas, while not being preoccupied with always getting the grammar right (at least in the creative writing phase). I believe that perfect grammatical expression is not their goal. Their goal is to express their creative thoughts in ways that engage and touch readers. Their ideas come from the freedom they give themselves to take creative risks
Where is the ideas in this book come from?
Those ideas are a blend of my business and personal-life experiences.

My consulting focus over the decades—mainly as head of my own firm—has been on helping organizations and their people to deal with change openly and constructively. The lessons I have helped my clients learn—and I as well—are basic to the book. Corporations must have an understanding of what makes them unique, developing a vision for their future, promoting leaders with the passion and courage to fulfill that vision, and executing strategies and action plans for moving down the pathway to success. As individuals, we must know what makes us unique, have a vision of what we want to become, and have the passion, courage and plans for accomplishing our vision. Simple, but difficult-to-put-into-action concepts, as we move forward with our personal lives.

My personal life has provided me with countless—and, often, uninvited—opportunities to identify behavioral issues that are at the heart of Realizing You. Even though this is my first venture into authoring a book, and even though I employed a writer to express my thoughts, I understood that I was revealing my soul to you, the reader. So, I think I understood that I had to be willing to do that. I think that authors of both fiction and non-fiction books are revealing their inner-most self to readers. In many ways, all books have an element of being autobiographical, either explicitly or implicitly.
Published 2014-01-13.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Realizing You
Price: $7.75 USD. Words: 77,910. Language: English. Published: January 7, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Personal Growth / Success
Realizing You is a unique self-help book—a novel from beginning to end. For fans of self-help books, empathic engagement with the genuine fictional people in Realizing You provides new insights into accepting and changing destructive behavior patterns. For fans of fiction and drama/relationships, Realizing You is a page turner. For fans of both types of books, it’s a double win.