The playful ego
Master Trainer, Conscious Leader, Co-founder, Author
Let your ego support you; do not be its servant.
Your ego is your ally. Create a playful relationship with it.
You cannot create meaningful change from a “should” mindset.
Lesson: Conscious Leadership with Diana Chapman
Step #3 Ego: The playful ego
Ego is this wonderful thing that we have that is here to help us survive. That's its job. We're not interested in getting rid of egos. That would be, in my opinion, not a particularly valuable use of our time, because without an ego I'd probably be sitting here drooling, and you'd have to feed me and keep a diaper on me without my ego. So I want an ego, and I just want let my ego, thought, support me, rather than me being a servant to the ego.
And that's the difference. If I'm above the line, I'm in the driver's seat and my ego is in the back seat, and I'm going, "Hey, ego, I want to make sure that I'm thoughtful with this customer so there are some things I need to pay attention to, right?" And the ego would give me some feedback that would help me survive in that interaction, versus when I'm below the line, the ego is in the driver's seat, and the ego is constantly in control, trying to make sure that something bad isn't happening, and oftentimes it's very irrational.
So we're just saying can we just change the relationship to ego. I don't want to make ego bad at all. In fact, ego is my great ally. I like to think of it that the ego is like the Wile E. Coyote to the Road Runner. The Road Runner is just going along and the ego wants to sometimes drop the big boulder right in your path to stop you from just continuing to open and expand, because the ego likes to be in charge. If you're going to open and expand, the ego is going to be out of a job and being in charge it its mindset.
That ego is going to try to trick you. It's going to say something to trick you into being more its servant. If you're the Road Runner, you can recognize, "Oh, that's just a boulder. That's just a thought that ego is putting out, and it's not true." And I can, 'beep, beep' and pass it by without that thought dropping down on me and knocking me off course.
That's the way I like to have people. Play with your ego. Let your ego be an ally that's just here to make sure you stay really present so that you can give your greatest gift to the world. That's the great value of ego. If you could have it be something that's a friend, something that you can almost play with, dance with, then you're going to have a much quicker time moving into above the line behaviors.
A lot of people get into this whole world of mindfulness and go, "Oh, I've got to quiet the ego. I've got to make this mind stop. I got to be these certain ways," and then I think, "Well, now you're just going to pay attention to mindfulness from below the line, thinking you're supposed to control something." That's just another way you're back in the same old game again.
That's one of things that I want to say to people who are starting to get curious about mindfulness, because we can do mindfulness from above the line, and we can do mindfulness from below the line. The moment you think, "I should be mindful. I should be a conscious leader," I would say no, you shouldn't. That's not necessarily true, and the moment you get into 'shoulds', you're now going to do all this stuff from below the line. It's not going to really pay off. So I would just say let that go and come back to 'do I want to', knowing that if 'I don't do it' could be just as okay as if I do do it.
Meditation. I could meditate or I could not meditate. Both could be okay. So then I'm free now, so now I'm above the line, and then I can decide that mediation is now something I really want to do, and I'm free to stop it at any time. Now I'm likely going to get some real payoff to meditating, versus if I'm down here, I know leaders who go, "I'm meditating. I'm supposed to meditate. I got this guru I work with. I've been to these retreats," and they do their thing and they're like, "It doesn't work. It's not really working. I can't . . ." Of course it doesn't work, because from below the line, maybe you're going to get some temporary relief, but likely you're just going to keep getting into that "should" so you can't shift from that mindset.
I think it's important, as we go into conscious leadership, mindfulness, self-awareness, that we pay attention to even that content can be done from two different contexts of above or below the line. So be mindful about, "Where am I doing this from?"