Wednesday, July 16, 2014

An Ego Goes Two Ways

 The ego is one of the strongest mental tools available to us. Without an ego we would be unsure and indecisive. Just selecting apparel for a days work would leave us in  a quandary that could last hours. Personal productivity would come to a standstill. Fortunately, no one is completely without ego.

Our egos give us the fortitude to accomplish. If he didn't have a strong ego Picasso would never have painted. Without an ego Eiffel could never have designed his tower. A surgeon could not have the courage to cut into the human body with no ego to support him.

For many years of my life, I was involved with technical sales. I dealt mostly with engineers. Some of them had an education and work experience that far exceeded my own. I was expected to consult with them and help them solve engineering problems using the products that I represented. I never allowed myself to get involved in conversations regarding qualifications. I knew my products and their applications. The rest was all ego.

So an ego is a good thing as long as it is balanced by a reasonable understanding of where one stands in the knowledge and skills department. Your ego may tell you that you are a great baseball player. But if you can't actually hit a baseball, you had better adjust your frame of reference.

I'd like to think that, in my writing, I am the reincarnation of Ben Rosenthal, the great New York Times editor and columnist. But my good sense forces my to take a more realistic view of my meager talents. Thankfully, we are still allowed to dream.

And so, to my point. When one has an ego so overblown that it is unchecked in the face of reality, suffering will occur. If the person with the big ego has no power, it is usually they, and sometimes, their family that is damaged. But when the big ego has big power, the damage falls on others. The more power that person has, the more people get hurt.

When you are the leader of the free world and everything is falling apart around you, when even those who were your close allies shun you, and you do not have enough introspection to do a serious reality check, you put much of the world in pain.

From the people living in inner cities, to children uprooted from Central America, to the Americans without work, to the Israelis sitting in bomb shelters, there is a lot of unnecessary pain in the world. Perhaps, it is time for a massive ego check. 

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