I just finished listening to the audio version of  Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography, the founder of Apple Computers.  The biography was filled with name dropping: Microsoft and Bill and Melinda Gates, Xerox, Disney and Michael Eisner. The list was extensive and it appeared that the biography alluded that, Steve Jobs worked with successful people and well respected businesses that supported and backed the high tech revolution.

I read an article this week involving the Salem Courthouse Square and the white collar titles of those involved in the poor design, building  and structural integrity of the building. County commissioner,  facilities builder, and mayor are titles that speak volumes with power and influence. No one questioned the process or checked the details of those involved because they were in trusted positions.

I notice the importance we place on name recognition in career positions and titles. Our society has  high standards and we tend to give high recognition to president, CEO, doctor, and  attorney. When someone  says “I am hiring an attorney,” our eyes bug out.  I see the  same response when I hear ” I am going to see a doctor,” we assume the worst.  I like to keep connected on LinkedIn (a business networking web site) and read the career titles and  job descriptions under the names. Again, creative rhetoric gives new meaning to what is deserved and what we read into the actual academia and meaningful accomplishments. There was a time when the names of  Schering, Merck, and Pfizer  were associated with high quality pharmaceutical companies and pharmaceutical representative was a highly respected profession.  Today, the names are either gone or stand for Big Pharma and have a negative connotation. Almost looked upon as bad as a politician.

Schools also like to get involved in this name game. You are no longer a teacher when working in a college or university setting.  Professors, department chairs, and coaches become role models. We are in awe of these titles we have given them and the power they yield. Penn State in the news this past week is a good example.

Where did title recognition come from? I believe in my case it was rooted in my parents and grandparents. I look to those who gather in the houses of worship and hold the leaders in high esteem. We have been taught those who have studied  theology are to be held to a higher standard in our eyes.

Senators, Congressman and legislators  are voted into our state capitals and into Washington, D.C. If we have a deep-seated concern, we are told to contact our Senator or Congressman.  Unfortunately, these lawmakers can only introduce a bill or take a stand on an existing bill up for a vote.  Our expectations of the them exceeds their authority. Sports figures or athletes also gain our  attention and respect greater than they often deserve.  We are in awe of their athletic ability, and hold them up as role models. I never understood why.   When we score good seats to a sporting event we talk about it for years. I wonder what the athletes think?

This is not intended to be critical of  well earned or deserved titles. Just a reminder to give yourself equal credit for your own accomplishments. Some of the titles as noted could be inflated egos.

Allen Prell lives in Keizer.