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Malcolm Levene Headshot

Letting It All Hang Out

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Some of you may recall the time when "letting it all hang out" was often a topic of conversation -- it suggested we hold nothing back. So often, when I'm speaking at group events, I hear people say, "Well, they'll just have to take me or leave me, because that's just who I am."

"Okay," I say, "But what if the you who is just being you isn't enabling you to achieve your desired outcomes. Is that okay?" That usually encourages a deep silence.

Then I'll hear something like, "Well, they'll just to have to like it, or lump it." That kind of attitude is a result of a badly-managed ego. In today's world, it's the wrong way to achieve the kind of results that I'm going to refer to as "inclusive." In fact, they encourage the reverse: an air of exclusivity, because what you are saying is, "I'm only interested in having my say. Anything else is of no real interest to me."

It might seem as though there's an impasse here. However, there is a way of getting to the nub of this (temporary) blockage. The individual is having to face his/her ego, and therefore is behaving like the school bully. Remember, the ego is insecure, scared and immature. Standing up to it can dissolve it, as it were, or it's likely to just retreat. An unmanaged ego is likely to encourage people to lump you. And in the world we currently reside, being liked is a must-have. In order to well-manage your ego, you must be aware of its existence, and the potential damage it can cause. For instance, you've been asked what inspired you this week. And instead of taking a deep breath, reflecting and searching, you respond promptly with something that you've achieved that's brought you personal gratification. Thereby, negating any possibility of acknowledging anyone else, and/or something else being responsible for you being inspired. Your focus being "all about me."

To manage one's ego takes awareness, humility, discipline, an element of self-monitoring and courage. Yes, courage, because we must be brave enough to confront our ego. Only then can we successfully transcend its manipulative grip. For me, when I sense the emergence of my ego, I visualize a deeply rich red flag, waving. That's a sign that my ego is vying for attention. And when those occasions rear their head, I endeavour to banish them by replacing the arrogance with humility. When I'm able to make it apparent to myself that my ego is an inauthentic part of my personality, it loses its power. To exert its power, it tries to convince us we are always right and to shift all blame on to others. However, when you are able to see the moral ambiguity of the ego, it becomes as ineffective as a dead parrot.

So before one lets "it all hang out," consider how authentic that really is. Are you being the best version of you? Or is letting it all hang out just an ego trip? Something that only serves you and your personal agenda? Consider how you'd like others to experience the best version of you. Rather than spend time obsessing how you'd like to be admired, or considered as iconic, focus on how you can bring more of the real you to the table. Invariably, this means you will have to shed anything that you feel is protecting you both psychologically or materially. The difference this will make to your life will be significantly positive for you. In addition, many others will be more inclined to warm to you. So before you let it all hang out, ensure your personality is one of humility, thoughtfulness and reflection, and perhaps you'll become iconic for all the right reasons.

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