A Productive Ego
Guess what? As human beings that are part of society, you and I have developed our Egos – it’s a fact of life and we all have one. The challenge we each face is how to keep our Egos “in check” so that we can be a positive contribution to our organizations and families.
Let’s start by defining what an Ego is and isn’t. An Ego is a reflection of what others think and is a societal artifact. An Ego’s sole purpose is to make us: look good, be right, be in control and to be safe in the broader sense of the word (i.e., physically, socially, emotionally). An Ego is not our true, authentic self – that person we were born into this world to be. In essence, our Egos serve as a defense or coping mechanism battling our fears and insecurities which again, we all have.
Where we get into trouble is when our Egos take over as our exaggerated sense of self-importance kicks into gear. This “overactive” Ego exhibits such behaviors as:
• Being defensive
• Being judgmental of others – if I am “right”, someone needs to be “wrong”
• Being closed minded to the ideas and opinions of others
• Being guarded or inauthentic – covering up
• Not generously listening to others
• Needing to be understood vs. understanding where others are coming from
• Not taking risks or trying new approaches
• Telling more than asking
• Self focused – “What’s in it for me?”
• Not taking responsibility – blaming others
• Taking the credit – being in the “lime light”
So, it is clear to see how an overactive Ego can wreak havoc on the productivity of a team effort!
Well, the good news is that there is hope for all of us, our co-workers, family members and friends alike. Let’s look at a few ways of “taming” that Ego of ours:
1. Be humble – strive for that next level of performance in ourselves. Come from a place that being our best self is a never ending journey.
2. Be a learner – genuinely seek out the knowledge and wisdom of others to fuel our journey.
3. Use “we” statements vs. “I” or “me” – inclusion of others takes the focus off of our self. It’s telling our Ego that all is “ok” in our world and it can “stand down” for the moment.
4. Delegate leadership to someone else on the team – take ourselves out of the “cross hairs” of attention if you will. Be an active contribution as a team member by listening, facilitating and supporting the achievement of the mission and goals of the team.
5. Build our self esteem by being in authentic service to others.
6. Take care of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self through a continuous cycle of getting out of our comfort zones (energy out) and then recovering/refueling (energy in). This rhythm of energy creates a strong “base” of resilience to face life’s challenges gracefully.
7. Use self affirmations to quell that private voice of ours that is calling our Ego into “active duty”. I recommend using a 3” X 5” index card and structuring them with the words, “I am a person who…..” Select no more than 5 affirmations and repeat them out loud three times per day saying each one three times each session.
Our Egos are with us for life. Every person in our families and organizations bring their Egos along with them to each engagement we are involved in. Being responsible is having a strong sense of the state of our own Egos first and foremost, and then making adjustments in our behaviors to keep our Egos from getting in the way of creating productive results in our lives and the lives of others.