Who Are We... Really?
By Brendan Howley

Big word, identity is.

What we choose to remember grounds not only who we are but also whom we take ourselves to be: for us mortals, there's always a gap between the perception and the reality.

And how we choose to resolve that gap reveals all manner of clues about the stories we tell ourselves.
It's a marker for how much we trust ourselves and how much we trust others.

Stories have three dynamics: they're at once

'data-with soul,' in Brené Brown's stunning formulation but they're also driven by emotions, themselves driven by the limiting case for story: conflict.

Identity, in short, is a network of contingent values around trust, peer and family influences, power structures and memory and context, a hot mess of emotion and conflict.

Identity is non-binary: far more a kaleidoscope than a set of data points.

We are, after all, here on this planet to work out our meaning and purpose, an emergent, complex quest. Our lives are messy, conflicted, ecstatic and anxious, loving and lonely, connected and mystifying, insightful and 'flying blind,' sometimes all at once.

Understand how these complex networks of story, context and conflict interweave and dance together, is, as the great documentary filmmaker Ken Burns observed "tantalizingly complicated… but that's what we (storytellers) like, because it's faithful to human beings.'

This is true of us as individuals, as hierarchies of individuals, collectively, in families or at work or play, in the marketplace or the quiet of a long walk alone.

Here's the paradox.

In designing HUME.works as a logic system to understand shared human story in a useful fashion, we've struggled to distill the power of a story analysis system unlike any other to something simple.

Until now.

Our colleague and CEO Akino Mcleish, in the course of a sizzling conversation this past week about our own
meaning and purpose, had this to say:

'All my life, as a Black person, an immigrant, I've struggled to live on a level playing field. That's why HUME is my life's work.

'I'd do this for free.

'Why?

'Because HUME levels the playing field.

'HUME takes you behind the face you see in front of
you so you can see and hear their story—and the values
behind their story.'

Four words: you see 'the other.'

And, as we build HUME out, we're beginning to see more: how our work reveals 'where your story's going next'—not the mirage of the 'predictive,' but the reality of what's coming at you fastest—and why.

Indeed, Identity is a kaleidoscope of trust, emotion,
culture, connection, and lived history. This is as true for a business as it is for as human beings.

And here's the kicker: once you begin to understand that once you see and hear 'the other', you begin to
understand yourself even better.

'Only connect,' as EM Forster, author of A Room with A View and Howards End, challenged us.

Perhaps in this harsh yet hopeful summer of 2021, that's something in we can all get behind, no matter who we are… or think we are.


Live and be well.

Photo credit: Gabrielle Henderson, Unsplash.