You know the situation- you start a discussion with the sincere intention of exploring what the best solution would be, then, a few minutes later, you find yourself digging in deeper and deeper to defend an opinion, a position, that you didn’t even know you held two minutes before!
Or do you recognise this? You are having a ‘heated’ discussion with your partner – your ‘nearest and dearest’. Suddenly, a voice in your head says “Aaagh! He’s/she’s right! I’m totally wrong!” Do you immediately stop and say, “I’m sorry, my darling – you are completely right and I’m completely wrong …”? Or do you try and bluff it out until you can find a way to get out of the hole you’ve just found yourself in?
Amazing, isn’t it? Here is the person who knows me most, whom I love more than anyone else in the world, and who can most probably see right through my pretences, and I’m still trying to defend my … what?
My ‘ego’, of course. And what is that? This false construct of who I want to think I am. This fragile self-perception that I find myself defending when even I know I’m being ridiculous! This self- delusion of my own creation that subtly and suddenly imprisons me in its own interests, and thereby blocks me from having the open, positive relationships I want; from doing what I really want to do; from being who I wish to be, who I truly can be …
It has been said that the ego is a socially-necessary construct by which we relate to the people and social environment around us. All too often, we forget this, and the ‘mask’ takes over.
We forget that we really are a ‘becoming’ – a unique being constantly learning, growing and evolving through our experiences. We can never really know who we are because we are always changing – and it is that that so frightens the ‘ego’, because it wants to ‘know’ who it is, to be ‘right’ and have access to ‘the truth’ … because if it doesn’t it might have to admit that it doesn’t really exist – it is just a temporary construct meant to serve a higher purpose.
In leadership, as in personal relationships, it can be deadly, as any one of us who has suffered an insecure ego in a boss can testify! All that time, energy, money and humanity wasted defending the indefensible – and doing exactly what we know we don’t want to do …
So, the next time you find yourself digging that hole, building those defenses, desperately trying to ignore that inner voice of true perception, just ask yourself:
“What am I serving? My ‘ego’ or my true purpose?”