While watching the television show, Unsung, a music biography series which sheds much-do light on some of the most influential, talented and yet, somehow forgotten R&B, Soul and Gospel artists of our time. On this particular show they featured rap icon, Kool Moe Dee. He made a statement which reminded me of part of my own journey. He said “my ego does drive the car sometimes.” The statement caught my attention and immediately reminded me of what it takes to get to the place in your life where you recognize and openly admitted that your ego can be in the driver seat of the car of your life and it has a big mouth.
Thinking about my own ego, I re-visited one of the many defining moments in my life. This one was during my time as a flight attendant. Yes, I know, you didn’t know that I had a short stint as a flight attendant. It was one of my dreams and I had the opportunity to live it.
One day I was doing a flight, can’t recall where, but on this flight I was the only flight attendant in the cabin. I did regional flights so it was usually a fifty seat aircraft. It was time for beverage service, and I always started in the rear of the cabin. While setting up for service I hadn’t noticed one of the first class passengers went in the back to use the restroom. Of course as soon as I pushed the cart all the way to the back the passenger comes out of the restroom ready to return to his seat in first class.
Since we’re talking about ego, what do you think I did? Yep. I wouldn’t let him return until I got to the front where there was enough space for him to get back into his seat. Because I wanted to “make my point” about who was in charge. Then to make matters worse, I “apologized” to him for not letting him go back to his seat. Well, he didn’t want to hear it and immediately gave me the front of his palm, also known as the “get out of my face, I don’t want to hear what you have to say” sign.
Well! As you could imagine, both me and my ego were livid. Hot! Upset! How dare he disrespect me in front of the other first class passengers. So now we are having a pretty heated exchange. I didn’t care. I was in “charge” and he needed to know it. But what I had totally forgotten was that I had an administrative ghost rider on my flight and she was sitting in first class. Usually you don’t know when you are being “watched in action.” But it just so happens there was another flight attendant on my flight heading home and somehow she knew there was a ghost rider and she had already warned me. So needless to say, I blew that observation.
What is amazing is that it took me five years to recognize who had really shown up to work the flight that day. It was my ego and it had a big mouth.
When Oprah started her Life Class, the first one I watched was The False Power of Ego. As I listened to the conversation I took it all in and was like okay, how does this relate to me?
The next day I had a conversation with my husband about the class and shared how I believed it related to me, and in that moment, my life had come full circle. The incident I shared about being a flight attendant was because my ego was in the driver’s seat and it had a big mouth. I let ego represent me and speak on my behalf because it needed to not only show the gentleman who was in charge, but it showed me that it was in charge of me too.
When it comes to personal growth, self-reflection, realization and acceptance are very powerful tools. Using these three strategies can help to transform your thinking and assist you in making the changes needed to go to the next level of your life. There are many experiences and places you will never reach until you pass certain life lessons and learning how to tell your ego to take a back seat and shut up is a lesson you must learn if you are going to truly impact the world with your gifts, talents and abilities.
Here are a few lessons to know and learn about ego because it is tough and stubborn, and will allude you at every turn. If you entertain it, ego will have you abandoning your dreams, settling for less than you deserve, thinking you have all the answers and missing out on amazing opportunities that could move your vision forward.
1) Let go of your need to be perfect
I personally have struggled with the need to be perfect. I refer to myself as a “recovering perfectionist.” Perfection is an ego-based need, and is used so you can avoid criticism and correction because your ego wants to protect you from them both. Perfection is also the measuring stick we use to compare ourselves to others and it can prevent you from moving forward. Let go of your need to be perfect. Perfection only serves you.
2) Be self-aware
You can’t relate to the ego of another unless you have the same ego within yourself. Becoming self-aware enables you to recognize when your ego is responding to the same ego in someone else. It’s the mirror effect. You are revealed through the reflection of someone else’s behavior. We typically don’t recognize ourselves and believe that it’s the other person with the issue, when often times we have those very same traits. Woman, know thyself. The more you know about you, the real you, the better you know what areas need to be developed.
3) Let go of the need to be right
Oh man! This is a big one. I just know it! Letting go of your need to be right gives notice to your ego that it does not control you. Ego is a tough opponent and will not go away silently into the night. Take a close notice to when you “demand” to be right and the other person is “always” wrong. That my dear is the “Ego game.” You will consistently and regularly explain yourself to prove yourself right. When you feel yourself in the middle of this “game,” stop and ask yourself, Do I want to be right or do I want to exhibit love? For the sake of relationships, personal and professional, let go of being right. I have learned that “right” will surface at some point down the road with relationships in tact. Because of how relentless ego can be, we don’t just want to be right, we want to be right, right now because it wants to protect you from being embarrassed. But when you choose love it expands you and grows you and keeps your ego in check and it’s no longer about being embarrassed, but then about being an example.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cheryl Pullins is Speaker and Peak Mastery Coach for women with BIG dreams and want EXTRAORDINARY results. As a coach and speaker, she empowers women to embrace their brilliance, release their gifts and create a life they love. Get tips, tools and empowerment at: www.iCoachWomen.com