Just Breathe, It's Ego
What do you, me, and R. Kelly share in common? EGO.
On Sunday, I hiked with my squad for five hours up, around, down, and through a mountain to get this message to you. We did not intend to be out for hours in the woods, but we lost the marked trail more than once. The extended time outdoors was worth it because it helped me find the words in this post from the view at the top.
Think about one of your remaining goals for 2021. Now, take it a step further and contemplate if ego drives your goals or if a genuine desire to improve your relationships, health, business, or career is behind the steering wheel. If you’re doing it for “the gram” or to prove something to others, your pride and ego are at the center of your ambitions.
I’m not throwing shame at you. I struggle with ignoring the seductions of ego as well.
Before leaving for Sunday's hike, I started the audio version of Ryan Holiday’s book, Ego is the Enemy. As I drove to meet friends and caravan to the hiking trails, I listened to a chapter about how we too often confuse confidence with egotism.
Let’s get clear. Confidence is believing in your abilities. Egotism supports beliefs that your abilities make you exempt from following protocols. Listening to your ego convinces you to stop learning, tell partial stories about your climb to success, and undermine the lives of other people.
You can see the pitfalls in reliance on ego via the choices that led to R. Kelly’s conviction in New York. R. Kelly used his celebrity status, talent, and financial resources to sexually abuse an unknown number of girls, boys, and women. We further learned from the case that he bribed government officials to support actions aligned with racketeering and sex trafficking.
Sentencing is still pending, but Kelly will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
Many of us have challenges with ego. You can see evidence of this by visiting your favorite social media app and scrolling your wall, feed, or other virtual highlight reel. We don't often share about our problems because no one likes or comments on negativity.
Making an effort to become more aware of when ego moves to take control of your actions is the first step in sustaining change.
Reconsider your next failed attempt to reach your goal as a learning opportunity and not as an indictment of your character or self-worth. Humans make mistakes. Share with others what you learned about yourself, the situation, or the Higher Power that pulled you from drowning to the shore.
I hope my platform provides you with an example, but I know that I am not perfect.
My wife published another beautiful article about our lives abroad on CNBC this week. From a financial perspective of an ex-pat family with US roots, the piece shares what a typical week looks like with raising three children in Antigua and Barbuda. It shares the foods we eat and the activities we enjoy while living on a picturesque Caribbean island.
The article provides readers with a peek at the expenses associated with the dream of living on an island.
The CNBC post doesn't tell you about all of our ups and downs. Like you, we have roads that need repair, annoying but necessary covid protocols to follow, workout routines that test stamina, and appreciative moments to soak in silence.
In a podcast interview recorded last week, Gabriella and I discussed Antigua’s challenges with the coronavirus. See the video recording here.
The more I dug deeper into Holiday’s book about ego, the more I felt compelled to share in an attempt to paint a fuller picture of our life abroad.
We have to check in with ourselves and disclose the multiple layers of our successes and failures. Let’s not allow ego to cloud our judgment; instead, be open and let the sun expose our shadows. Put it another way, find honor in humility.
If you look at the picture following this paragraph, you can see the beauty of lush green hills and clear blue water. What you don’t see are the multiple falls I had on the climb to the top, the eight thorns that entered my hands as I braced myself on the ground, or the fear that took over my body when it started to rain, and I realized we were lost... again. I wrote two pages in my journal from this spot in the picture that helped shape the ideas in this post.
On Monday, I read about the conviction of R. Kelly on racketeering and sex trafficking charges.
Tuesday, my wife’s article trended at #1 on CNBC.
Today, these reflections about ego came together for this entry.
If you take a moment to reflect, you also can make connections between experiences, world news, challenges, and triumphs. With this awareness, you can identify authentic goals that can improve yourself and contribute to meaningful work that impacts the lives of others.
Share one of your goals in the comments and with a friend or family member in real life. Don’t allow your ego to keep this information to yourself and share this post with another person.