Patterns, and the Dancing of Neurons

I get a weird thrill out of spotting patterns in life. I love when I get to learn about the same concept in two or more different domains, especially when the two domains seem completely unrelated. There is something about “making the connection”. I wonder if there is literally a jolt of electricity between two disparate neurons in the brain when someone makes a connection between seemingly unrelated things like that. What if some of us are “addicted” to the feeling of two neurons connecting, like new lovers from faraway countries who met and became infatuated with one another?

The Incredibly True Story of Two Neurons in Love

I’m not going to look up the science right now, because I’m working on my compulsion to always validate with evidence. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting I’m going to stop generally validating my assumptions with evidence. It’s the “always” that I’m working on. Sometimes it’s ok to guess who sang a given song, and not be sure if you guessed right. Sometimes it’s ok to wonder for at least a little while. I want to wonder, damn it. I want to “not know” even when I could know, sometimes. I want to wonder whether I’m actually addicted to the long-distance love story between two of my neurons, one of whom is now named Fred. And I want to “not know” if Fred is secretly catfishing Marcy because he likes the electricity between them but is already married to another neuron.

Damn it, Fred.

I’ve never written about this before – it feels good to explore it with words.

Anyway, when I am lucky enough to have that experience of seeing a pattern across two or more disciplines, it makes me feel like I was given the gift of getting to have a kind of personal relationship with that concept and its application.

Here is an example:

The Concept: Measuring something based on a standard tends to inform what that something is or will be.

  • In medical education: “Assessment drives curriculum” – there is the concept that the license exams drive what is taught during medical school and residency. It is seen by many as an “unspoken reality” – something many medical educators find offensive, but accept as true. So, measuring physician learning based on a standard tends to inform what they will be taught.
  • In software development: “Test-driven development” – there is the concept that software developers should write the test of the code first, and then develop the application bit by bit until that test passes. So, measuring whether the resulting code will pass a unit test (the standard) informs how the code is written.
  • In HR/organizational management: Pick one of the organizational alignment/goal-setting approaches. For example, there’s the “Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)” framework where you set goals and track performance against them based on specific metrics. So, measuring departmental progress against organizational objectives informs what the departments will be doing.
  • In Scientology: The “E-meter” and auditing sessions are used to measure and facilitate the process of “going clear”. I am not exactly a fan of Scientology, but they popped into my head as an example, so I had to include it!
  • There are of course tons more, and some that are way more obvious than the ones I included. These are just the ones that gave me the “connection feeling” recently.

It is everywhere, this idea that in order to get the thing that you want, you need to know the thing that you want (your standard), know what you have now, and then know about the gap between those two things.

In equation form:

Desired State = Current State + (Desired State – Current State)


What I Want = What I Have + What I Need
where What I Need = What I Want – What I Have

To me, this kind of conceptual stuff is very fun to think about, though I could see if someone else thought it was all very obvious and not all that interesting. To each her/his own! For me, this sort of thing makes my neurons dance among the lightning.

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Respectful yet skeptical hysterical eccentric with spectacles.

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