Self, or Ego? You always have a choice.


Because the two words “ego” and “self” are loosely interchangeable, let me distinguish between them.

Ego motivations:

Getting as much as you can for yourself.
Looking good in the eyes of others.
Disguising and denying your weaknesses.
Regarding your co-workers as rivals and enemies.
Taking care of number one.
Winning even if others get hurt in the process.
External rewards.
Using power to dominate others.
Pushing your viewpoint forward against resistance and other people’s point of view.
Hatred of being seen as a loser.

We all have some of these ingredients, since everyone has an ego to defend. If taken to extremes, egoistic personalities verge on the psychopathic. There are areas of business, such as reckless trading houses on Wall St., where the worst traits of ego drive are hugely rewarded and almost never punished or even held in check. But the vast majority of people don’t let their egos completely run away with them. There is room to encourage the motivations of the self instead.

Self motivations:

The desire to be fulfilled.
Looking good in your own eyes.
Honestly facing your weaknesses in order to overcome them.
Taking the welfare of others into account.
Valuing and seeking other points of view.
Preserving your own integrity, speaking your own truth.
Forgiving yourself for not being perfect.
Keeping external rewards in perspective.
Using power to benefit as many people as possible.
Basing self-confidence on knowledge and insight.
Preferring excellence over winning, and enjoying those times when the two coincide.

When you consider which choice to make, whether to build a self or follow your ego drives, keep in mind that some things in life can’t be controlled. You can’t change the times you were born in, the family who shaped you, how gifted you might be, and many of the circumstances you find yourself in. Success depends on how you manage the things you have no control over. 

– Deepak Chopra.


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