Tuesday, March 16, 2010


While the animal kingdom abounds in examples of  a hierarchy, usually headed by a dominant male who usurps power by brute force, history bears testimony to the fact that the human race has often been subject to the Machiavellian antics of despotic, scheming and cunning leaders most of who were driven by an Exaggerated Grandiose Opinion of themselves.

From a more down to earth perspective, it is often the same EGO that has become the bane of corporate and political leadership. Opportunism, power grabbing and personal wealth creation are seen as a culmination of the EGO. If Hitler’s Aryan ego was responsible for the massacre f the Jews, the modern superiority race is played on the battlefields of technology and the ill effects are showing in terms of Global Warming, extensive pollution, the growing divide between the rich an poor countries and the constant threat of nuclear arsenal being used to massage the ego of the technologically superior nations.

While the EGO has its ill effects, it also plays a vital part in realizing the potential of an individual, a nation and a society. An individual can strive to achieve much more than he/ she is capeable of simply because his ego wants to prove itself. Similarly a nation would leverage its core strengths to ensure that it is competitive in the world. The Arab world for example would not easily let go its stranglehold on the world oil market. Similarly competition is nothing but a battle of egos and the beneficiary is the consumer who gets better choices, cheaper alternatives and better customer service. The society at large is then a beneficiary of the ego vs ego game.

For us the important learning is that the ego exists and if it is leveraged correctly, can be exceptionally beneficial. Else, our Exaggerated Grandiose Opinion could be like quick sand from which we cannot easily extract ourselves; the consequence is anybody’s guess.

Action Points:
  1. Doing a reality check on ourselves would be a good start. The best way is to pay close attention to the criticism we get be it at work, home, from our children or parents. The annual appraisal time is also a good time to consciously make an effort to check our ego levels. Do we keep mentally refuting all criticism or vociferously justifying our actions?
  2. Make a list of people whom we are not comfortable with or have a dislike for. Now objectively assess if your dislike has to do more with the competence and self confidence of the other person and this affects your personal ego?  How do you feel when you are in the company of some who is the life of a party or who can tell the most hilarious jokes or people who easily attract people around them? Who are the icons of society that you envy? Does ego have a part to play in your envy of the person?
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