Leave that ego at the door

The recent Tamil movie ‘Parking’ (currently on Disney Hotstar) is a brilliant showcase of how ego destroys relationships, unleashes anger, and can set in motion a series of destructions.

The word “ego”, which comes from the Latin word “I”, was first recorded in 1780–90. We identify with our ego as the ‘rational decision-maker’, our ‘self-esteem’, our ‘self-worth’, and/or our ‘personal identity.’

Our ego is always with us. It is an inseparable part of who we are. Because it also acts as our conscience keeper, we need to keep an eye on it, lest it becomes dominant and destroys relationships at workplace or at the personal level.

A typical scenario at workplace that is often experienced is of colleagues not open to sharing information and keeping it close to their heart. The thought behind this is – I have this knowledge because I made an effort, why should I share it with someone else, let that person make an effort. Or the game of upmanship –…if I share, s/he will also become as knowledgeable as me and that will cut down my chances of promotion…Here is another one – my manager hardly talks with me, why should I then talk with her/him? Or, in that cross functional project where everyone is supposed to collaborate – there is that one person who is putting every effort down.

Behind each of the above scenarios, it is the ego that is at play.

Often, the ego interferes at workplace because we allow our assumptions to come into play. What we see and feel may not be the truth! To get to know the truth, to truly understand your peers, to be able to make meaningful contribution at work – all these situations call for keeping the ego aside.

Here are some ways you can let go of your ego and improve relationships and your own performance at work.

#Focus on co-creation of ideas and goals

Teamwork is not about individual/personal recognition. It is about finding solutions together. It is about working in a rhythm with people who have diverse opinions and views. Finally, it is about being okay with your own idea not being accepted.

#Reach out and support

A friend I know selflessly supports others in helping them find jobs. She shares their resumes within her network. And then she follows it up. There is no personal gain for her. It is her value system, the way she was raised, wherein supporting others is considered as ‘normal’. Assess how normal you are when it comes to helping others. What do you let go off if you reach out to help someone? Your ego! What do you gain instead? Improved relationships and a sense of interconnectedness for sure.

#Be open to feedback

Feedbacks are often not received in the right spirit. With the ego rearing its ugly head, every feedback is taken in a negative way and can destroy working relationships and also lower your performance and morale. Growth happens when the ego is set aside, and feedback is seen as a powerful and enabling tool for continuous improvement.

#Be aware

Cultivating self-awareness can help you rein in your ego before it flares up. If you look into a mirror, you will see not just your physical self being reflected but also your ego, your desires, and your behavior. Just as a mirror shines if cleaned daily, so will your thoughts become clearer when you become self-aware and polish yourself daily. This will result in better actions and improved performance and workplace relationships.

When you let go of your desire to have more, to be superior, and to always be right, you actually win!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

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