A while ago, Eckhart Tolle told me that ego was an insatiable mental construction which enslaves our true self and when fed indiscriminately it can only guarantee one thing… unhappiness.
Then, Ed Catmull, the remarkable president of Pixar taught me that the secret of their success and the hardest thing to accomplish was creating a company where unbelievably talented creatives learned to keep their ego in check.
Ryan Holiday went right to the point and recently wrote entire book dedicated to warn us about the perils of those that let themselves be guided by the dark side of their egos. The book aptly called “Ego is the Enemy”. (1)
So what’s up with ego?
Let’s back up a bit…
Over the last few emails I’ve shared with you a few strategies and frameworks(1) to help you become more productive, to make the most of the limited time we’ve been gifted.
Let’s say that you applied them and managed to extract every ounce of opportunity from your daily dose of space-time fabric.
Your reward for winning the battle against procrastination is that the chances of achieving whatever you want in life will increase dramatically… and then… one day you will win. You will succeed.
And when you do, what then?
Champaign, cheers, fireworks, bells, and an orgasmic cocktail of natural brain chemistry will make you feel on top of the world – invincible.
But as soon as the party is over something unexpected may happen to you…
You may still be feel unfulfilled, empty, needing more success, fame, money, recognition.
How sucky is this? how is it possible that after all the hard work the ultimate reward of winning could be unfulfillment?
The answer is ego.
If what drove you to be successful was to satisfy your own ego then no matter how many times you win you’ll aways feel is not enough.
The paradox is this. When your ego wins, you lose.
Here is why. Your ego doesn’t care about you. It cares about itself.
Your ego is a bottomless pit that feeds on external validation and adulation.
So what is the purpose of ego? why does it exist in the first place?
I have my own Grumo theory(3) but for now just be aware that ego is always lurking in your psyche and that if you don’t keep it in check it will take over and make your life miserable.
To avoid falling victim of your own ego you’ll need to conduct some introspection to find out the real “why” that is driving you to succeed.
If your reason to succeed is to feel better about yourself, feel loved, wanted, recognized, or simply proof the world wrong, then your ego is in charge.
If your why is less about you and more about what can you do to help others independently of whether you get recognition or not, then your true self is driving you.
Conclusion, if you want to enjoy life, don’t be a self-absorbed bastardo!
Peace, Love and truly fulfilling cookies,
P.1: The books that served as an inspiration for this email are: “The Power Of Now” by Eckhard Tolle, “Creativity Inc.” by Ed Catmull and “Ego Is The Enemy” by Ryan Holiday.
P.2: The productivity frameworks I’ve shared with you so far are: Selective Ignorance, Minimalistic Essentialism, the R.A.D framework, and Input vs Output balance.
P.3: “Ego is the price we paid for the gift of self-awareness. Once we became aware of our own existence we created a mental image of ourselves. This mental model is our ego and although it is not real we see ourselves reflected in it and we confuse that reflection with our true self. This leads to all kinds of psychological maladies including our inability to truly enjoy anything that was done to merely satisfy our own ego. Learning to untangle ego from our true self is one of the biggest challenges we face as humans.” – By Grumo.
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