We all have one. Some of ours are bigger than others, some are more realistic. We are born free of one, yet as we develop in our childhood, we grow one quickly. We rarely set ours aside for others, but expect others to set theirs aside for ours. It drives our physical appearance and our mental state. It is the source of much of our material success.
It -- is our ego. Our sense of self-esteem or self-importance. Our ego gets us through the day, successfully creating confidence where uncertainty lurks, setting us higher on our own pedestal of success and cementing our importance in daily life.
Our ego convinces us that we are important, needed and great at what we do. And, for the most part, we are all of those things. It's when the ego convinces us that we are more important, always needed, and a bit better than others at what we do that our balance is threatened. Getting your ego in check can quite possibly be the most beneficial action you can take to finding more balance in your life.
So, I'm going to do you a favor and tell you some inconvenient truths about yourself in relation to your work. Put your ego aside for a moment and read these as universal truths -- truths that transcend our interpretation of reality. These are not direct insults to anyone in particular, however if they hit a nerve for you, we may be onto something interesting!
- You are not as important as you think you are at work. While people need you, rely on you and think you do great work, if you were not at work, someone else would be doing your job. Apple is still a very successful company without Steve Jobs. Every four to eight years we still get a new president. Life will always go on, even without us.
- Other people are just as smart, if not smarter, than you. You do not need to solve every problem, create every new product or have the best idea in the meeting. In fact, the more you allow others to share their knowledge and ideas, the more others can contribute to getting the work done. More minds -- better product.
- Your boss/client doesn't always need you to answer their question -- they just need someone who can answer the question. The important thing to your boss/client is that the question gets answered or the problem gets solved, not who answers or solves.
- Asking others to complete work that you cannot do is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it's the sign of a well-developed leader who understands their limitations of time and brain capacity.
- You will be remembered for the impact that you made in this world to your family, friends and environment, not how much work you got done.
- Being too busy does not make you important. In fact, being too busy makes you annoying and useless to those who really want or need your time.
- Spending time telling other people how busy you are is a waste of time -- yours and theirs.
- Bragging about how much vacation time you have left over at the end of the year says more about your priorities than it does your importance.
Set your ego aside. Stop defining yourself by how much work you complete in a day. Start paying more attention to your teammates and peers to understand how you can rely on each other to work less and produce more as a team. Put aside the notion that you are indispensable and see what happens when you take a day off and let others answer questions, attend meetings or put out fires. Delegate work to others, allowing them to learn and grow.
The more you control your ego, the more your life comes into balance.
If you do nothing else...
Find the inconvenient truth from the list above that resonates most uncomfortably with you -- and read it over and over again.
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