Update on Writing Projects, Co Dependency and Protecting Your Personal Brand.

Today, I had the privilege to spend the good part of the day mentoring young adults at Grand Valley State University.

The subject of the day was “Your Digital Brand”. We covered many aspects of this topic. One part of the discussion dissected the rise and fall of the Live Strong brand and the Lance Armstrong story.

Many of these young people don’t recall the story, the legend of Lance Armstrong, the multiple wins, the obstacles he overcame and the icon he evolved into. The fall of his brand was epic, you don’t see yellow wristbands any more.
As opposed to other controversial brands, what I discussed with these students is that the fall of the Live Strong Brand was so harsh because it was built on a lie.

This collapsed when some of the participants in the lie started to come clean, when people began looking closer at Lance.
This was crushing to many who believed wholeheartedly or even chose to look the other way, we wanted to believe in the deception. We got validation through association with the false reality and we clung to it, even in the face of surfacing evidence.

A brand, even your “Personal Brand” can withstand great controversy. Chic ’fil a, Nike, any number of brands. But it’s very hard to survive purposeful deception.

Ironically, I have some experience with controversy and today I’ve had to deal with some issues involving a standing deception, relating to a personal brand.

Some days ago, I put up a gratitude post that listed some new projects I was involved with and was thankful for.
Two of these were writing projects. One involves the psychology of creating a successful organization (Organizational Behavior). The second involved the topic of Co-dependency/Cluster B personalities and a series of articles planned to help people dealing with the issues of this dynamic.

The irony is that today I received a letter and email from an attorney from some legal help center that was engaged by my very recent girlfriend/an ex-wife and supposed friend. Though this person had never been named in anything published, she felt threatened by the topic and I was promised harm and possible legal jeopardy if I wrote about any of my personal experiences.

This doesn’t sit well with me. Dishonesty doesn’t sit well with me. Though only a qualified psychologist can make a diagnosis of any individual (and sometime that is very tricky). A persons’ behavior and behavioral traits can be discussed and analyzed in an effort to dissect the dynamics of a relationship/individual. How many of the traits listed in the DSMIV- DSM V are encountered? What characteristics of Co-Dependency or “People Pleaser Syndrome” does the other party exhibit? Why are each party attracted to each other psychologically and so on.

My foremost question was what type of personality would feel so threatened by the publication of a project, that they would take such an aggressive and dramatic action. Maybe this validated the working hypothesis, it certainly is an interesting consideration and very hurtful and disappointing. What dawned on me was, it’s the effort to protect a personal brand. Likely highly crafted, certainly fiercely protected, though, to my embarrassment and dismay, possibly attained by an unwarranted tarnish of my own Personal Brand.

Dishonesty bothers me greatly. I try to live in a transparent way. Maybe more than some appreciate. I try to post positive content and shy away from negative stuff. This relationship has been a central and important part of my life, being married and then a fully monogamous relationship all through the divorce and continuing until just recently.

I never posted about this ongoing relationship, as I was told it would protect her children, whom I cared for very much. I went along with that, though it was very hurtful to me. Though I was spending significant amounts of money and putting in significant work and labor, I wasn’t allowed to see the kids and I am sure they weren’t made aware that I had been providing gifts and money to help out with constant financial struggles etc. or at the place often.
I am realizing this extended beyond the kiddos. I recently had to stay away for the weekend during a camping visit of extended family, for example, as I had been convinced it would help reduce stress and make my S/O happy. So I went along with it- even though it devalues me and bothered me not to be open about things, as I was under the impression I was putting in all these resources to build a reconciliation.
I now believe this was never the intention. This is an embarrassing admission, but also lends itself to my psychological profile.

This persons first name had recently been innocently named in a post about us raveling or not traveling, I don’t recall which… this caused severe anxiety, intense problems and contributed to the exiting of the relationship. This just didn’t make any sense to me. It’s not the intention to do a deep dive into details of this, and I may just be scratching the surface of the disconnect between the public branding here and the objective reality.

I’ve had to suspend disbelief on many occasions, (which is a topic for an article in the project) and I’m now one of those people that actively participated in a deception. (There is a history of deception in family systems.) I was convinced it was for noble purposes, but the truth is, I was concerned that if I didn’t protect the false narrative, I would be discarded and all the effort and resources I had been pouring into this would be lost. This is a shameful and embarrassing admission. I’m asked by people who are close to the situation why I would put up with many of the behaviors exhibited over the years? A normal person wouldn’t. But, I’m not normal. I need acceptance, especially by certain personality types and I continuously try and fix or please. I work to the point of exhaustion and have spent to the point of financial ruin in these types of relationships. That’s a pretty strong indication of a co-dependent type personality.

So, to continue with the project? Or succumb to the threats? I’m in no real legal jeopardy. I’ve published many things and all would stand up to defamation scrutiny. But this type of situation can be dangerous and problematic. More erratic actions could be taken against me personally and myself defamed.

But, I also think it can be extremely helpful to many people that are suffering and confused. They contact me all the time.

I’ll be further consulting with the resources I am utilizing, but I’m inclined to keep developing the content.

It’s not designed, nor meant to be a tell all- or hurtful. The purpose is to gather, distill and share information as a community, that can help others and in turn help ourselves.

I am open to input or if you have a story or situation to share feel free to email me and we will review as we continue to evaluate.

So the moral of the story is that a brand should be built upon a solid foundation (a brand, as I use the term, is the expectation of an experience).

I feel like my brand has suffered through this experience and I hope that it will recover through honest sharing continue to strengthen through future projects, actions and habits.

James J. Maioho jmaioho@hotmail.com

Author's Bio: 

Author is currently launching a new CASE Construction equipment dealership in Michigan, for McCann Industries of Addison, Il. Author, Certified Business and Tax Structure Consultant, Artist, Photographer, Musician and Mentor and Coach