There’s one in every organization—someone who has been at the company for years, maybe even decades. Even though the company’s mission has evolved and changed, this employee can’t stop talking about the way things used to be. Even though they can totally drive you crazy, they have the best of intentions. They’re just stuck in an old reality that’s no longer really true.
And even though they don’t seem to be having much fun or, honestly, getting much work done, they just won’t move on. After all, they’ve got it pretty good. They’ve built up a nice salary, they’ve got a good office—why would they want to leave?
Have you worked with anyone like this?
Whether you answered yes or no, you interact with a being everyday who is exactly like that crotchety, stuck-in-the-old-way co-worker. It’s your ego—the part of your mind that acted as your survival system when you were growing up.
When you were a little kid, you were 100% dependent on others for your survival. And so you were VERY invested in learning how to keep the people who took care of you happy so that they would continue to keep you alive. That’s how high the stakes were for you then.
And your ego was the part of you that took note of everything that did and did not work to keep you safe. Like I said, it was your survival system. And because you’re reading this, it worked. Because clearly, you survived.
But now that you’re a grown up, your ego is like that co-worker. It still thinks things are the same as they were decades ago when you were dependent on others. And it still thinks it’s responsible for keeping you alive, even though now you’re all grown up and don’t have to rely on others for your very existence.
The thing about the ego is, it can be a real turd. It loves to lie, play on your fears and manipulate. It tells you things like, “That will never work.” “You’re crazy.” “But what if you mess it up?”
You know the ego is talking any time your train of thought is making you feel like what you want isn’t realistic or safe.
So what can you do about the ego? Know these two things:
- The ego wouldn’t even have an occasion to wake up and start blabbing if you weren’t on to something good—something that has the potential to help you grow into the next level. So when you start hearing those doubt-y, mean thoughts in your head, try taking it as a sign that you’re headed in the right direction (instead of a bad omen).
- Just like that co-worker who no longer contributes but won’t step aside, you want to treat your ego with respect. Here are the magic words to help quiet it down: “Thank you so much for your concern. I know you really care about my wellbeing. But I promise, I got this.”
Because I’m here to tell you, whatever you’re up to that’s getting your ego to start chiming in, you’ve got this.