Human beings love change. Newness is our aphrodisiac. We get excited by a new relationship, a new car, a new dress and a new baby. Today we’ll explore one of the most appealing newnesses(1) of all; the secrets hidden within your personal name, and how you can refresh your entire life – work, personal, physical, emotional and spiritual – by getting in touch with the essence of your name.
What is your name? What is the name you like to be called by? What are your other names? We might have a first name, e.g. “Marigold”, but we all have other names depending on personal and professional relationships, e.g. “Mum”, “Aunty Marigold”, “Dr Marigold” – we are complex beings, made of many different but complementary parts.
Branding Ancient Egypt
In his seminal book On Brand, thought leader Wally Olins explained how a company’s name and logo is so much more than a group of randomly-chosen letters and visual images. He traced modern brand logos back to Ancient Egypt, considering how one of the Pharoahs effectively rebranded the entire country through the use of symbols and hieroglyphs.
A company’s name denotes something of its essence, and the brand is created through the way that other people relate to that name. We all have clear associations when we hear the names ‘Coca-Cola’, ‘Mercedes’ and ‘Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC’.
The ancient Kabbalistis agreed with modern brand experts. They recognised the importance of our name; that it denotes our very essence. They even condoned a tradition of rebranding a person who is facing a life-threatening illness. They believed that that by taking on a new name, it could change someone’s fate, as if the illness was meant for the ‘old’ person. This may sound irrational, but it’s not that different to a company facing bankruptcy; they’ll quickly reform with the same people under a new entity (e.g. new name and new bank accounts) and thereby change their fate!
Have you considered the depths of your personal name? What is the name you go by? What does it mean (in any language)? Do you have any other names that you don’t use (e.g. middle names, spiritual names), and what do they mean? My English names are Marcus Joel Freed, my Hebrew name is Matisyahu Yoel Baruch and there are various other things I’ve been called by ex-girlfriends...
Discovering the depths of your name may take some research, but when we find the roots of our names – in whichever language – we discover more about both our essence and our potential. Try seeking out a name dictionary, ask around, and consider where you are not currently living up to the potential of your name.
The Jacob/Israel Rebrand
One of the first recorded rebrands takes place in Genesis 32:29 and 35:10 when Jacob has his name changed to ‘Israel’. His new name signifies an expanded potential which he earns after undergoing a personal trial; the new name means ‘he who has struggled with the Divine and men and overcome”. The person who was to found a nation needed a strong name signifying leadership, rather than just ‘Jacob’ which means ‘heel’. From now on he was to be the head rather than the foot.
Your personal rebrand
How can you rebrand your body, your career and your life? How you can you reach deeper so that you are able to become an even better you? There is a two step process: 1. Identify the meaning, depth and potential hidden within your name, and 2. Step into your potential!
We have huge untapped potential within our body – to stand straighter, to breath more deeply, to move with more grace – and one aim of a yoga practice is to increase our discipline so that we can stand at our full height and use the totality of our body.
Consider the fullness of your potential, and step into your glory!
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How to use this in the boardroom: What is your company name? What does the name mean – or why was the name chosen? What is the potential of your organisation that can be achieved right now – e.g. we are called Freedthinking – we need to continually consider where we can be thinking ‘out of the box’, and acting more freely. What is your equivalent?
How to use this on the yoga mat/meditation cushion: Where are you not using the potential for your body and mind? Where do you need to be more disciplined – or more playful? Make a list of three areas you would like to improve – e.g. stand more upright, sit with more stillness, focus your mind more accurately – and start pursuing them!
This was based on Parshat Vayishlach, with the stimulus being Jacob’s renaming after he spends the night wrestling with an angel.
(1) Yes, I’m making up words. It’s not that the English language is deficient, but rather that it lends itself to playful creation. Shakespeare made up new words all the time. Try it! Unleash your inner Bard.