My Personal Branding Story: Introduction and Why

A book I am the process of reading called “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi makes the assertion that “People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives” and “as long as we respond predictably to what feels good and what feels bad, it is easy for others to exploit our preferences for their own ends.”  I find both of these statements if true to be truly transformative.  Recently, a friend of mine posted to twitter her realization that she had become so comfortable with the drive to work that she barely even noticed it any more.  I have noticed the same effect in my life so I began researching the causes of this.  What happens to us when we ‘Space Out’?  I have always assumed that when a task becomes automated we are able to spend our cognitive energies on other things.  In the book ‘Incognito: The Secret Lives of our Brain” the author David Eagleman states, “awareness of your surroundings occurs only when sensory inputs violate expectations”.  I have read other books that seem to indicate that our conscious does not start to ‘spend our cognitive energies on other things’ but in fact goes below the surface until some else requires its input.  I found this quite scary.  My belief that our consciousnesses has 80 some odd years worth of value and then blinks out of existence could not be resolved with the realization that the majority of that time would be spent below the surface waiting for something requiring its intervention.  Since reading “Incognito” I have set alarms and invented triggers to force self awareness on things that in the past I would consider beneath notice.  Specific shades of red, certain words and an absolutely annoying application that pop’s up an alarm randomly on my work computer became triggers for forced initiation of self awareness.

All of this is leading somewhere, I promise.  With these fears in mind and my haphazard attempt at resolution I began asking myself “Why am I the person that I am?”  Why do I enjoy boxing when most people react negatively to being hit in the face?  People exaggerate how much it hurts, but that does not mean its not still somewhat painful.  Why do I love long conversations with knowledgeable people on the concepts of Quantum Physics?  I am not a Physicist.  Therefore it is quite likely that I could spend the rest of my life with zero knowledge on the subject of Solar Fusion and not have the slightest negative impact.  Yet I expend what is a biologically and cognitively a huge amount of energy on stuff that doesn’t matter in my life.  Now certainly every once in a while something pops up in my extracurriculars that becomes applicable.  The concept of ‘Opportunity Cost’ in Economics for instance.  Yet when I began my Economics class from Wharton via Coursera, I had no expectation that this would occur and only knew that it was going to cost me up to 12 hours per week.  So I asked a simple, “Why?”  After a good deal of soul searching, I realized that I had no means to answer this question, but I figured out who did;  Western Capitalism!

Businesses in many cases integrate thousands of people across disparate fields of study.  They do an amazing job at aligning and enabling every individual in the organization to move towards the same goal.  How do they do this?  It seems logical to assume that Finance wants to get costs as low as possible, Executives want to control messages, Marketing wants free reign to push the business, IT wants all the cash in the world to experiment with toys after the business needs have been answered.  How is it that these organizations do not Spaghettify*  under the constant pressures pulling them in multiple different directions at the same time.  These were the same questions I was trying to answer for myself.  It seems that business has the answer.  ‘Policy Documents’, ‘Mission Statements’, ‘Vision Statements’ and a host of other control mechanisms.  These items tell everyone in the organization how to answer questions at different levels of abstraction and specification.   The ‘Procedure Document‘ might tell you how to tag a file for backup, but why back it up?  This is answered in the ‘Guidelines Document‘.  The ‘Guidelines Document’ determines its requirements from a ‘Standards Document‘ and our ‘Standards Document’ is an outgrowth the ‘Policy Document‘.  None of these things matter without a good ‘Mission Statement‘ to give us the details and measures the company cares about.  Without a ‘Vision Statement‘, outlining the reason for the company’s existence, how can you know anything?

I think this holds some answers for me.  I have decided to go through the process of working these items out for my life.  While it is possible that I will go through this process and realize in the end that it is pointless, I seriously doubt I will be less complex** for having done it. I will be blogging the process.  As i said in my Inaugural Post, this is mainly so I can keep my thoughts in order through the process.  It however is possible that like the ‘Opportunity Cost’ knowledge from my Economics class, I will stumble upon something important and useful for my life and others lives.

In the original posting I forgot to mention that as part of this process I am going to learn enough about logo theory and science to design one of my own.  I am totally going to have capes made!

This word Spaghettify comes from the best possible end of life scenario.  If you are interested in Black Holes, check this article out.  Also check out ‘Death by Black Hole and other Cosmic Quandaries  by Neil deGrasse Tyson  I promise it is worth it

** I use the term complex as it is a primary point made in the book ‘Flow’.  The author claims that Complexity should be a primary goal in our lives.  Two quotes he makes on the subject, “Complexity requires investing psychic energy in goals that are new, that are relatively challenging.” and “more complex because it involves greater challenges, and demands greater skills”.



Micah Norman

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