Ever look around and wonder how on earth the ego ended up so damn inflated?
You are preparing a presentation for Monday morning, while wondering if your new haircut really suits us as much as everyone seems to be saying - albeit with raised eyebrows.
You listen to gruesome tales of conflict from the Middle East while pondering how to improve your CV while wondering what your followers think of our latest Instagram post – and oh, it was a good one.
Of course, having an ego is natural and, by all accounts, what makes us quintessentially human.
Without it, we would all have been devoured by sabre-tooth tigers long ago… but for real, self-awareness is at the crux of what separates us from other animals, and means that WE are the ones sitting in boardrooms nowadays, not koalas.
It has a marked evolutionary benefit, to have a concept of the “self”, of “I” and of “me”. We are fed ideas about our strengths, weaknesses, our role and position in the fabric of society and, most importantly, to understand other’s behaviour.
For most of us, it is impossible to even imagine a borderless life without self-awareness. Now, our identities are at the heart of everything we do: we see the world through the lens of “I”, a social invention. We treasure them – our identity is like gold dust to us.
So it’s no wonder that the word “ego” is tossed around nowadays more than the whitened leaves of a Caesar salad.
In business, women blame men for having egos that are simply too big, while men proclaim the opposite: that women leave their egos at the breakfast table before coming in to work.
The truth is, all humans have egos – now, how that bad bitch shows up is a different story.
Here’s how the ego effect plays out.
Men often confess that their ego screams at them: more money, more things, more wins, more, more, more. Their ego manifests as something competitive and completely linear.
The ego aligns with socially defined constructs like power or success, but in doing so, they neglect their needs as human beings.
The outcome is a barren checkbox tundra, sucked dry of emotion and purpose. This cold, detached business climate then only serves to feed the cycle of more, more, more: businesspeople forcefully grinding themselves into a one-way tunnel of imminent burn-out.
Women’s ego tells them “I’m not good enough” or “I need to do more in order to be worthy” and lures them down a lonely, shameful, self-sabotaging path. As opposed to Men, this ego leads down a steep spiral of enervating emotional excess. That excess will inhibit empowered action and confidence.
When you overthink, you end up drained, depleted and just done with your (oversized) emotional baggage.
The excessive behaviours do not get you what you want.
Women see Men as aggressive, pushy, uncaring, cold.
Men see Women as incapable, incompetent or lacking confidence.
But are Men and Women really as different as they appear?
You might not know it, but you have an existential kink ¹. We all do.
Our biggest fear is, in fact, our biggest desire.
While men can appear uncaring and cold, they are yearning for warmth and care. Women, who play the part of incompetence, long to show the fibres that they are really made of.
We live in conflict because we are acting out our biggest fear.
So, when Men tell Women to speak up, mean it.
When Women tell Men to care, allow it.
These misunderstandings and misperceptions of each other lead to boundless friction in the workplace, including:
An urge to judge
Your ego would rather know wrong than know at all. It perpetuates itself. When you judge you leave no time to process and understand the root cause of the behaviour.
The desire to be right
Your ego cannot discern the difference between being right and getting what you want. It chooses right under the guise that it is getting what you want because you have not normalised changing your opinion when presented with new information and embodying the new activities that exists with the change, so you chose to be right.
Fear of the unknown
You attach previous outcomes and patterns to an identity that offers security, self-image and a way of being. You challenge the ego when you introduce a new route, an unknown path, yet to be explored. It’s not an easy option.
While the ego effect creates inner conflict, it also paves potential: a beckoning pathway to live out your desires and become the version of yourself that you’re ready for the world to see and a more profound impact your business can make on and in the world.
The Global Collective is the ecosystem that can propel your business into the sweet spot of collective competitive advantage and healthy, sustainable working climates for both men and women. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
¹ Elliot, C. 2020. Existential Kink: Unmask Your Shadow and Embrace Your Power