“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Point to Ponder:
Is your ego holding you back from anything?
As you consider your passions and making them a priority in 2014, do so without allowing your ego to cast a positive or negative light on them. Your passion just is, and as long as it doesn’t involve harming others, go for it and don’t look back!
Have you ever taken a personality, skills or spiritual gifts test? I have taken two out of the three, and at the beginning of each test they always advise the following: “for best results answer each statement and question according to who you are, not who you would like to be or who you ought to be.” Despite this prompt, I am always very tempted to answer inauthentically. For example, one of the spiritual gifts test questions was: “I enjoy doing everyday tasks that support the various ministries of the church.” Even though I don’t make this a priority and it’s is not on my enjoyment list, I felt like I should have answered with a strong “yes!” After all, shouldn’t I want to partake in everyday tasks that support the various missions of the church?… and even more, what kind of person does that make me if I don’t enjoy these types of tasks? Another example from the personality test was: “You know how to put every minute of your time to good purpose.” Again, I wanted to answer “‘absolutely yes” because I really want to be that person who excels in time management. After all, isn’t that the type of person who makes the best businessman or businesswoman? And, because I do get sidetracked, that must mean I’m a failure!
As difficult as it was to provide the accurate answers, I didn’t fudge the truth. But, instead of feeling good about the strengths and gifts I’ve been given, I judged myself, thought I should be better and even made assumptions about what it means that I’m not good at certain things. Of course any reasonable and rational person knows you can’t be good at everything, so why was I trying to answer ‘perfectly’ when there isn’t even a pass/fail or good/bad score? This is insane! I thought I liked myself?!
After much thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason why I was so concerned with giving the “right answers” was because of my ego — i.e. my sense of self-esteem or self importance (not to be confused with egotistical). And the more I thought about it, it dawned on me that it is most likely our ego that prevents us from being 100% authentic, embracing all of who we are, accepting others for who they are and fearlessly pursuing our passions. We may not even be aware that our ego is at play every minute of the day through thoughts, questions and judgements like: “what will my friends, parents, children, spouse and colleagues think?” “I should be better,” “This is bad,” “That is good,” “I am right,” “You are wrong,” etc.
A personal example is since becoming a mother, my social life (outside of iGnite) has gone from a level 100 to a 2. Even though my reprioritization is a necessary and healthy one, I am constantly having to fight my ego and make peace with the fact that I have to say “no” a lot. The truth is that I really want to be liked, and being included in things makes me feel important and boosts my self-esteem.
To suggest that we can eliminate our ego is unrealistic. Rather, the goal is to be aware of the influence our ego has on our judgements about ourselves and others, as well as on the decisions we make.