Setting Our Egos Aside

Have you ever been stuck in your head? Maybe you’re replaying or reliving old stories. That tape can cause so much stress. I know I can go deep into stories that will never happen! When we get stuck in our head, we are useless to anyone and dead to the world. To stop doing this, we need to put aside our ego.

Putting the Ego Aside

Putting the ego aside is not easy. Our ego can make wrong decisions and sometimes huge mistakes. At times, it doesn’t want us to give up when everything is telling us to call it quits. Other times, the ego is brilliant and works to our benefit, such as when we compete in sports and need that ego and confidence to finish a race.

We must also find the balance between ego and heart. Recognizing which should run the show is not always easy. I can say without a doubt that meditating, sitting in silence, going for a walk, or just taking ten minutes to regroup is so beneficial these days. I learn not only from my mistakes but other people’s mistakes as well, which is why I read a lot of nonfiction—to learn from mistakes others have made and be inspired. With any luck, those books will leave clues for me on how the authors turned their lives around toward success.

My Journey of Setting Aside My Ego

We are all learning and growing. Putting our egos aside and tapping into our hearts frees up space in our brains to accept new information. Sitting in seminars or even in virtual meetings, I can see who is leading with ego and who truly is absorbing and open to new information.

I wasn’t always able to put my ego aside in meetings. I had a lot of work to do in that department. I led by ego, but it wasn’t serving me in most areas of my life. What do I mean by this? I look back and see that many mistakes I made were ego-driven. If I had been in my heart space, I might have stepped back from a decision and waited until I was centered in a love state. Love is a high-spiraling space, and fear and anger are low. When driven by ego, fear and anger can be a dangerous combo. No one ever wants to feel defeated. I know I never wanted to admit defeat in any area of my life. My ego just could not take it.

I always find it interesting that when you become aware of something, you see the issue so differently. I do not feel the need to correct anything or shout out my opinion anymore. Of course, I don’t have all the answers, and I struggle being around people who think they do. Strong opinions make me uncomfortable these days. And I catch myself now when I start to think I have all the answers: thank God or the universe or wherever this awareness comes from!

Learning to stop myself immediately and put my ego aside has been one of my greatest tools, as well as how to listen carefully to what people say and how they say it.

Surround Yourself with Supportive People

I recently had dinner with a group of friends. The conversation got a little heated, and I observed everyone’s egos in the moment. I was hearing so much judgment about different companies. People were judging multibillion-dollar companies, labeling the companies as “criminal” or telling stories of how management at these companies treats the employees. No one at that table has ever owned a billion-dollar company.

I have the honor of spending time with people who do have billion-dollar companies, and they would not speak this way. These individuals have immense curiosity about everything. They take interest in whoever is speaking and ask a ton of questions.

Be careful whom you are listening to. Pay attention to their language. Note how they communicate—is it from their heart or ego? Someone in the group did ask me how I felt about the topic. At this point I felt that language is everything: what we say and put out is energy, and it comes right back to us. I also have met the owner of one of the companies that was being criticized, so I kept my mouth shut. What is beautiful about this is I had a great learning experience.

I want to be surrounded with visionaries, not know-it-alls! I want to be inspired. I want to be around humans who are curious about everything, not just their own world and opinions. I want to be supported, as we all do. When you spend time with people, hopefully you leave them with a new way of seeing something.

How Leaders Can Set Aside Their Egos

Put ego aside. Act as if everything is new information, like you are hearing it for the first time. Train yourself to stop telling others what you know and instead ask more questions.

Exceptional leaders understand this. Steve Wynn, a well-known real estate developer and hotelier, learned from his valets. He would spend time asking them about customers’ experiences. That way, he’d learn how people’s stays were going and find ways for his companies to improve. His employees were inspired by his curiosity and would then go an extra mile for their customers too. Wynn was curious about what was happening from the ground up.

I saw the same inquisitiveness with the late CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh. He understood that being a leader wasn’t about him but the quality of service he was giving to his clients. Many other great leaders also spend time learning from the people who work for them instead of telling them how to do their jobs.

I recently spent time with an owner of a small business and saw many examples of quite the opposite. The leader was doing everyone else’s job because he wanted it done his way. I observed this and learned so much. One question that can define our ability to set aside our ego at work is, Am I an owner or an operator? True owners let their employees do their jobs. Operators do everyone else’s job, and they are really a manager, not an owner.

Get Curious!

The ego will not allow us to let go of the reins and let other people make mistakes. Instead of doing everyone else’s job and micromanaging our employees, kids, friends, or partners, we need to get curious. Maybe ask, “I was observing how you do that. Why do you do it that way?” You might be surprised by the answer if you set your ego aside.

I’ve been having fun watching various TikTok videos because many people are posting random how-to advice. I have learned quite a bit—from tips on cleaning to how to pack a suitcase. I have been doing these activities my whole life, and I am still learning better ways of doing them! We do not have all the answers. Be a great leader with a lot of curious questions. Let your team do their thing. Let them rewrite the manual. You might learn something!

Deborah Driggs

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