The phone rang one day at my office where I coach people on empowerment training and effective communication skills. It was a referral from a longtime client who had merged his company with another one. He called to tell me he suggested to his new partner they hire me to help the employees “play well in the sandbox together” so they could get better results.
When I went in for the initial consultation, the new owner spent most of the time telling me his frustrations and how his people were letting him down and not adjusting and performing as fast as they should. Then, like so many of my clients, he asked, “Is this something you think you can fix?”
My answer to him was the same as it was with all my other clients looking for a solution to their workplace woes: “Well, let me ask you this: if you are part of the problem, which you probably are, are you willing to take a deep look at yourself?”
I got a blank stare for a second, a look of fear, and then a quick response, “Well, of course, but I don’t see myself changing much. They just have to step it up.”
This is the phone call I often get from business owners, asking me to “fix” their people, which frequently has to do with two (or more) EGOs colliding. Unfortunately, most people think it is the other person who needs to be “fixed”—they don’t see how they have the power to change the dynamic by shifting out of their big or little EGO to their Ego-strength and connection to their Intuitive Self.
I look at the EGO as having three mindsets:
1. The big EGO, which is driven by fear, but masked by superiority and grandiosity. It pushes for its point of view and needs to be met and is often unrealistic about its goals. It does not engage others in the collaboration and innovation process or get the buy-in needed to succeed.
2. The little EGO, which is also fear-based, masked in self-doubt, it tends to flee from conflict and differing points of view. It uses more passive-aggressive ways to get its way and often focuses on the negatives instead of the possibilities.
3. Ego-strength which is our secure and authentic Self, where we are able to speak up regarding our position. It also stays open-minded and collaborative with others as it considers possibilities to reach the goals and make the changes needed to succeed.
As you can see above, I refer to the big and little EGO in all caps, to remind us how it can Edge the Group Out, because we are overly-consumed with what “I” want and need, and we all know there is no “I” in teamwork. The big and little EGO can also Edge our God-like Self Out—which I call the Intuitive Self—guidance within that is beyond logic.
The word EGO comes from the Latin word “I,” meaning our sense of self—how we think, feel, and sense our will power. A person’s EGO is a perception of himself or herself that is separate and distinguishable from others. It is important for us to have a healthy sense of self if we are to contribute to others and feel safe that we will not lose our self in a relationship or job. A healthy EGO also allows us to be strong enough in our self to compete and collaborate with others, without feeling crushed or defeated when someone strongly disagrees with us or rejects us. I refer to this state of mind as Ego-strength, and do not use all caps, to remind us that this state of mind does not edge the group out or God out. Instead, it allows us to be resilient to meet the changes and challenges life has to offer, while collaborating with others, as we explore possibilities open-mindedly.
When we operate from our Ego-strength, we are able to work well with people, overcome obstacles, and see possibilities we otherwise could not see. This does not mean we do not have mild judgment, fear, disappointment, or sadness from time to time. It’s just that we get beyond our own experience, practice curiosity, compassion, and eventually gain wisdom to realize we were operating from a place of fear. When we shift from fear to curiosity, we are able to create a life—and business—that can collaborate and be more innovative towards our purpose and goals. We are also able to personally keep our passion, power, and peace amidst difficult situations because we are more open-minded and less attached to the outcome.
Ego-strength, as you can see, is the preferred ego approach. When we are in our Ego-strength, we have a resilient nature. However, Ego-strength alone still lacks an intuitive connection that aligns our authentic self with wisdom beyond logical explanation. Because our Intuitive Self connects us with our God-like Essence, we are able to peacefully continue to move towards our goals, even when it appears our dreams are not coming to fruition. As a result of this trust, we feel passionate, even under difficult circumstances. We also receive the power to respond to difficult circumstances and people, instead of reacting impulsively because we have a deep sense of knowing we are on purpose. While we need our Ego-strength to stand tall when facing obstacles; we need the connection to our Intuitive Self for guidance to overcome the obstacles and to supply us with our purpose, passion, power, and peace.
When we do not make this connection to our Intuitive Self, fear can seductively shift us out of our Ego-strength to our big or little EGO. Suddenly we are thinking fearful and limited thoughts again. It becomes extremely difficult to find solutions to complex problems and people when we are in fear—as fear causes more chaos than collaboration and innovation.