An individual’s sense of self may be called “Ego”.   All of us have a sense of ourselves and it may be necessary to have it.   We all need a sense of belief and confidence in ourselves to give our best.  So, the word “Ego” per se is not a bad thing.  The problem comes when our ego overpowers us.  It is at this stage, we lose control of ourselves.   We act in a way, which hurts others.  Our ego is like the sun.  While the sun is beneficial to us, over exposure to the sun can cause all sorts of problems.  As long as we can regulate the exposure to the sun, it is always good for us.  Similarly, if we control the ego like keeping the sun within our fingers in the picture above, ego can help us build confidence in our self always. 

Let us look at how the ego impacts our behaviour in the family, at the workplace and in the society.  As a child, we behave normally and are willing to accept our mistakes and forgive others as well.  But, as we grow as adults, our ego bloats.  We have a larger image of our self as compared to others even in the family.  We start believing that other than us, nobody else could be right.  We want it our way or the highway.  This puts pressure on our own kids and siblings and considerable stress in family relations.

Now, let us move to the work place.  When we start our career, we are at our best behaviours.  We work hard and learn at every opportunity we get.  But, as we grow in our career and gain experience, we start gaining confidence in our abilities.  This is a good thing.  But as confidence transforms into over confidence, our ego takes charge.  We start believing that nobody else can be better than us.  Our interpersonal skills are put to test.  We get into more conflicts and ego clashes. Then, when we get promoted as a manager, we tend to believe we have two horns on our head.  Our pride overtakes our performance.  This is where we need to ground ourselves.  We need to reflect and learn to be humble as otherwise that may be the start of our downfall in our career.

If we move to the society and community, we start as grounded citizens.  As we prosper in life and career, we tend to gain power and status in society.  This power translates into arrogance and thereby we start ignoring others and believing that society depends on us rather than the other way around.  It is at this stage, some Good Samaritan has to mentor us and get us back to track.  At no stage in life, an individual can be bigger than an organisation or the society at large.  Hence, the earlier we realise this gospel truth, the better it is for us to develop as mature citizens of society.

Thus, we can see that “Ego” is necessary in life.  As long as we have control over our ego, it is fine.  The day our “Ego” starts controlling us we are doomed.  Ego has to enable confidence in us.  It has to make us believe in ourselves.  It has to propel us to deliver at work and in life.  The day our ego derails us and makes us arrogant, we need to hear the red herring.

Let’s manage our “Ego” and not the other way around. 

S Ramesh Shankar