Why plusaf and A.S.V.I. ?
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Why "plusaf" ?

The story started when I found myself at the bottom of a nasty depression. A real one.

Chemically induced by my own body. Research depression for your own benefit. Here's one way it works: Your body produces serotonin. Serotonin is a "feel good chemical" for the body. When there's enough of it floating around, you're happy. If there's a shortage, you feel blue. Above and beyond [or below and beyond] what your everyday life presents you in terms of happy or sad occasions or environments.

In addition, your body's natural processes both create and destroy serotonin. It's a very natural thing. Part of your body pumps it into your bloodstream; another part removes it and flushes it away.

The balance between the creation and destruction is critical, and if the two processes are out of balance, extremely happy [manic] or extremely sad [depressed] feelings result. Just as no two people are identical, everyone's body chemistry is different, too, and in some people, the "serotonin uptake" part of the process gets ahead of the "creation" part, and the result is depression. And you know what the results are if it gets bad enough. That doesn't happen to most people; they're somewhere in the "middle range."

It was a long time before I discovered where I was on that scale and did something about it.

Back to "plusaf."

I'd been working at Hewlett-Packard for about ten or fifteen years, and had plenty of the normal "ups and downs" that come from working for any large company.

I'd also done a variety of flavors of psychotherapy and several "personal growth" things [I was living in California, y'know...] and had developed quite a good level of "self-awareness" and intellectual understanding of "what was going on" in my life.

But at the time, one thing kept hammering me: my manager was an "assertive woman" and I'd never done really well reporting to an "assertive woman" before. And this was no exception. I finally reached the point that, if she so much as walked down the aisle by my desk, the little voice in my head would start asking, "ok, what am I doing wrong that she's going to nail me for???"

Crappy way to live, and I was hating it.

"Then, one day," as the saying goes, I noticed that, in that day and age of hand-scribbled notes [email hadn't taken over our lives yet...] I had fallen into the habit of signing my little notes with a dash, followed by my monogram: a combination of my initials A and F.

So every note I wrote, and even emails, too, would end in "-AF".

I looked it that day and realized that I'd been associating negativity -- the dash -- with me ... the AF part.

Crap! Why am I soaking my mind in negativity and literally tying it to "myself"?!

Well, what could I do to fix that? I needed more "positive" in my life! I'll change my "sigfile" to read "+AF" instead!

It worked.

Around the same time, I was also playing with "Creative Visualization"... the concept that you could use the power of your mind to "make things happen."

Heck, if my boss was such a problem for me, maybe I could "get rid of her." Of course, powers like these should only be used for "good" things, [right?] so there could be no "picturing her being hit by the proverbial beer truck on the way home" or anything like that... Just positive "get her out of my life" [or at least out of my "food chain" of an org chart.

I concentrated on that for several weeks, and then the miracles happened: I was feeling better already, thanks to the + replacing the "-", but the second miracle made it hard to not believe in Creative Visualization.

Several of my friends from my group were chatting in the aisle when one of my manager's "best buddies" trotted up. She was all aglow with news and had to share it immediately: "[My Manager] had just received a wonderful promotion and was going to take over one of the groups in Europe!"

The four of us smiled and passed our congratulations back through the "buddy" and watched her bounce away to continue to share the wonderful news. Just as the "buddy" got out of earshot, the four of us turned to each other and said, in the same breaths, "Not Far Enough!", "Not Soon Enough!" , "Good Riddance!" and "Pity the poor Europeans who'll be reporting to her!"

And then, again in unison, we cracked up with laughter.

And life got better.

A few years later, I realized the real truth about the trick my body was playing on me and went to my health care company to see if I could "qualify" for antidepressants. After speaking with a psychologist and a psychiatrist, the verdict was "20 milligrams" [of Prozac®]. Within a month or two, the dark cloud that followed me around for literally decades had lifted, and my psychiatrist began to refer to me as her "Poster Boy for Prozac®."

Life continued to improve. My self-confidence grew, and interpersonal relations got a lot better, too. Managers [and people] were less intimidating. I'd graduated again.

OK, So What The Heck is A.S.V.I. ?

All ASVI refers to is my own description of how I "solve problems."

Some people solve problems by taking all of the steps from the Problem, at point A, to the solution at the other end... Z. I know a few people who can actually do that. They're very valuable to their organizations.

I don't do that; never have, never will, and probably couldn't if I wanted to. It would drive me crazy.

My process might be A -> G -> M -> T -> Z.

The next time it might be A -> L -> W -> Z.

Or more or less steps. I realized that my thought process was really one of Analyzing the situation (taking it apart to see what the key elements are,) followed by Synthesis, where I'd map the parts of the problem to other things I was familiar with, including prior solutions that seemed to be connected, and then apply my mysterious Vision to see how they fit together, and finally Invent a solution.

Analysis, Synthesis, Vision, Invention.

It just happens that way. I don't question it. I observe it and enjoy it.

It drive linear-thinkers crazy. Some demand that all of the A-to-Z steps be described and documented. One of my lifetime best-friends can do that and he's extremely valuable for having that skill.

Of course, management hated him, too, because he would have documented every step in a project, including which decisions had been made along the way and why they were made the way they were! ... Made it hard for moron-coworkers and -managers to lie about what had happened or why.

So like other folks in my work life, I was a great problem-solver, but lousy at framing the explanation in a way that the "Linears" could receive. As if I were transmitting a nice FM signal and they were all equipped with AM receivers. Y'know what comes out of an AM receiver which is bathed in an FM signal?................... NOTHING. It can't process it. It doesn't "hear it" at all.

Such was a large part of my "life in Corporate America" [not to mention my dealings with bureaucracies, too.... ]

There'll be more in my autobiography about those experiences, too.... and names will be named... :)