This pandemic has had clear benefits despite its very present hardships; with the world being in on it together. One of the advantages is that our personal and business personalities are better aligned. I have seen less showing up (ego) personalities emerge and more people being there (presence). I believe this is one of the reasons people were so tired early on in the crisis (along with the stress of the uncertainty, and shock of the new reality) – they were fully ‘’on’’ all the time and we were not used to that. What is the impact of being fully present with our ego out of the way? How do we get there?
I interviewed Lisa Stedel-Smit, Leadership & Organizational Development Leader at CAE to have a conversation about the ego and how it is in the way of being fully present. For her: ‘’The ego can be positive and negative, it can help us take steps forward but also drag us down’’. How does your ego help you drive your development and how does it stop you?
Recognize your ego
How would we set our ego aside if we weren’t aware of it leading the show?
The ego is a part of you that doesn’t want to fail, that wants to and must be right. It is linked to our 2-million-year-old reptilian brain that is designed to protect ourselves in the moment, for the sake of survival. It’s always looking for what’s wrong, so you can fight, run away from threat, or freeze. Unfortunately, however, this same reflex does not help us being able to manage an issue through communication.
Our ego still reacts to a critical situation as if our life depended on it. If not nurtured by success, it gets restless and recedes. But when you cannot fail, you cannot be vulnerable, and if you cannot be vulnerable, it is difficult to gain a clear understanding of who you really are as a leader.
To help you recognize your ego, ask yourself:
- What feeds my ego when I’m in a team or individual meeting?
- How does my ego make me react? Do I freeze, do I remove from the situation, do I stop talking, do I attack, argue, impose?
Our ego is a source of overreaction and is also in the way of being fully present, because it is too busy having an inner conversation with itself! So, as a leader, it is important not to live in our egos. When you start recognizing it, you will be able to manage it, you will be more open to different ideas, perspectives, personalities. It will enhance your adaptation capacities and abilities to stay focus on the positive impact you want to have within your organization.
When I asked Lisa how we can manage this ego, she says ‘’Being conscious that it exists is a big step, that it plays different roles, and when’s it’s time to listen to it or not listen to it, depending if it is serving us or not’’.
Being mindful (not mind full)
When our ego is managed -ideally, out of the way -and we are mindful, we are calm, conscious, and focused. We see clearly. Mindfulness allows us to be open—to ourselves, to others, to our environment. We notice, sense, see “signs.” We adjust to stress by putting it in perspective, by more readily stepping back from the context.
For many years, there has been discussion around vulnerability, empathy, consciousness, and mindfulness. I feel we are now living it more and more. This is what is now required from leaders in today’s world, moreover with this pandemic.
We all know that when it comes to leadership, having strong knowledge is not enough. As leaders, we need to be whole. Whole human being. Being present for yourself and the other. Not operating from a place of ego but rather a place of vulnerability, authenticity and empathy.
Lisa also thinks that ‘’leaders who are doing well at this time, they are pausing to connect with others as humans and bringing their groups together, asking how people are doing and what they are experiencing. To get in that space of being completely present means being mindful of our role, the impact we have on others, the broader impact we have, what is out purpose, the intention of our conversations to be mindful to me and the other’’.
And so, I invite you to let go of your ego and of your need of being right and instead, look for ways to truly be present, engaged and building report with others.
How would you describe your state of mind in general? Is your mind full or are you fully present?
What is your day-to-day state of mind at work? At home?
What could you gain by being more mindful?
How can you let go your mind full and give more space to mindfulness in your life? What would be the benefit?
All these abilities, to manage your ego, to develop mindfulness and presence for others allow you to be an even stronger leader as you engage with others in a more profound manner. For a better connection as an accelerator to success. Because you are aligned with your core and that of others.
As always, I invite you to be inspired and inspire
President and Founder of o2coaching, Author, Speaker and Coach