Navigating: from Latin, navigare (navis – ship and igare or agere – to drive)

We use navigation when we travel (maps, GPS, radar).   Along the route we look for signposts, familiar coastlines or islands, lighthouses, etc.  The ancient mariners used the North Star.  What is your North Star?

Principles, Strategies, and Tactics

Principle – a fundamental truth, a proposition that serves as the foundation for belief or action
Strategy –a carefully devised plan of action to achieve a goal, the art of developing or carrying out such a plan
Tactic – the means, methods or steps to reach a short term goal

Be passionate and clear about your principles. These are the values you hold most dearly.  I believe that people with disabilities must have opportunities for independence, inclusive lives, and valued roles.  Your principles are the framework upon which you build; they cannot be compromised.  Although we all believe we are independent, we are also interdependent, because we all rely on others for some help with some things.  As we look at our lives and those of our loved ones, how do you define happiness, success, fulfillment?  What are your visions or dreams?  If you have a child with a disability, what do you want his or her life to look like when he or she reaches age 21?  What do you want your life to be like as you age?  In life and death situations, what are your most deeply held convictions?  Who touches your life and whose life do you touch?  Having strongly held principles defines what you ask for as well as what you do.

Strategies are the plans and ways we achieve long-term goals.  Develop them with careful thought and consideration.  Build a community of support around yourself and your loved ones, a community that shares your principles and agrees with your strategies for achieving or maintaining the dreams you have.

Tactics can be changed to meet the situation.  Cultivating a range of tactics as well as a hierarchy can be helpful.  In conflicts I ask, “please help me understand this issue.”  Using the honey over vinegar approach, “Here is an alternative to try.” Is there a way for an opposing side to save face when both you and they know that they are wrong?  When can you compromise and when do you have to dig in your heels?

Systems are like bodies of water, some deeper and stormier than others.  Some are smooth sailing until you hit a certain age or event.  Sometimes you have to deal with multiple systems simultaneously.  Your principles, strategies, and tactics are applicable in any system.  Each system has its own language or jargon to master.  Mastering the jargon helps you communicate within these systems.   Follow the money in a system and you’ll find the services and supports, but it takes time to recognize what the money holders consider ethical, legal, or practical.  Your principles, strategies, and tactics are your North Star, ship, and sails as you navigate through the multiple seas of various systems.