Friday, February 6, 2009

Surviving the Ego - Importance vs. Service

This one's for Chris who suggested that I just get going.

There seem to be common lessons to life that are hidden secrets NO ONE tells you until AFTER you've experienced them. Only then do they talk about it AND treat you as if you've been on some alien planet for thinking anything different.

For instance...when I found out I was pregnant...I got my calendar and started counting 9 months into the future. Just like I'd been taught by my teachers, family, books, and society in general all my life.

It wasn't until my doctor had a little chat with me that I found out the TRUTH. Only then do your friends, mother, sister... and EVERY OTHER MOTHER on the planet reveal their knowledge of this secret little truth, "ohhhhh, yeah....that. Its really 10 months. Welcome to the club!" I am a member or the 42 week club. Lucky me.

So, do I warn the "up and comers" about this experience or chalk it up to "wisdom with age" and let them find out for themselves? I say its a test of character, a small, but good example of taking sides. Side A - I say nothing and take my turn in the line of ages where I too laugh at the Freshmen. Side B - I share this truth with non-prego women so that they get it waaaaaaay before they get the lovely truth.

Just like in the movie Pleasant ville when the human experience confronted a naive society with conflict, passion, and a different consciousness...the color of reality appears. The innocent are no longer able to look at life in the same way. Knowledge, and wisdom begin to set-in. With certain power comes responsibility. Choose how you want to that you know.

When the ignorant become aware they are presented with an alternate that society does not promote, chance, it be..."too much for others to bear". Ignorance is...bliss? What would Neo say when presented with the choice: take the blue pill and be blissful for the rest of your known existence. Take the red pill, and wake up to reality. One presents you with the truth.

There comes a day when each of us finally sees the game for what it is. And only then, do we start playing the REAL game. Do you strive to be important - better than...or do you strive to serve? And if you strive to serve...are you serving yourself, or do you serve a purpose bigger than yourself? Do you strive to be right, or do you strive to be just and fair? If you strive to be it for accuracy or to prove you are best (more important than, better than others)? And if you prove to be just and fair, is it to serve your best interests most of the time, or is it to serve a greater good?

I don't mean to be deep with you. I'm just telling you what's going on. You, me...and every other "aware" person is living the answers to these questions. Better you be driving your life with stick shift than on autopilot.

The glasses are off for me...and I'm finally playing the game. The instructions have been on the mirrors but till now, I have not been able to see them. You see, I've had to huff and puff - blow off a little steam to see that Alice in Wonderland has been in front of me the entire time. I've stepped through the Looking Glass.

Right now, I am going through what feels a little like National Treasure the movie, or Amazing Race the reality TV show. The more senior, tenured or titled people are accustomed and skilled at the hunt for the treasure. Within an organized group of people...this treasure is being the best among others, and "best" depends on what that person needs in order to get satisfaction. The clues come in many forms - title, access to the Board, the one with the "big idea", the one with the last word, the one "bossman" goes to for advice, the one with the least number of laid off people, the one with the most projects (regardless of if they matter), the one with the least number of crap work, the one that got the ridiculous deal with the vendor, the one that "stuck it to those bastards", the one with the most space/real estate, I could go on, and on, and on, and on, and...

In what right now, is the worst economic depression since 1945, it would appear that the tombs of treasure are running low on goods. Traditional methods of excavation are being exposed, and people are getting a little sloppy at maneuvering. In business - existence is like Maslow's air, water, food and shelter. It's what matters. So let what could very well be the worst of the games, begin.

With very little to scrap over, the name of this secret game is about ensuring that you survive. Thriving maneuvers are VERY different than surviving maneuvers. People will tell you, "Of course...everyone knows this". What they won't hand over to you is the playbook. Don't take the bait that you're the alien here. These plays are key to survival, and no, not everyone knows them. Otherwise, they wouldn't be important, and they wouldn't be worth protecting.

The quarterback of this game is EGO, and what ego wants is to score a gain on every drive.

I'm a behavioral styles expert. This means that I study personality styles, thinking styles, values...and ultimately - what "drives" people to do the things they do.

Want to know a secret?

Of the hundreds of Sr. Level Executives I've coached - most are surprisingly insecure about their character in life. What? They are insecure about being too this, not enough that. A boss, a parent, friend, business person, name it. The game is better than, less than. RARELY do people accept their importance in their own mind. They typically look to the outside for confirmation. The center of their life has become about proving their importance - enter the need to feed the EGO and the hunt for artifacts in the tomb.

Together we crack the code of what their basic driving needs are: appreciation, accomplishment, accuracy, and relationship.

No matter who you are, one of these four, is THE need you strive to fulfill, the others act as tools for getting the one. For instance - I may ultimately need appreciation. Life has taught me however that in order to be appreciated by my boss, I have to accomplish my work in a way that ensures he looks good. So, I learn to execute, relate, and check for accuracy so that in the end, I am applauded. That's just me.

Another example - my colleague may ultimately need accuracy. Life has taught her that the best way to ensure accuracy is to hold a position of leadership (accomplishment) for better control over her environment. Life has also taught her that information supports accuracy and that sometimes the best route to information is relationship with others.

So what.

Our instincts kick-in when we believe we need to secure survival. If you need appreciation - you will actually seek attention. And like a child, it doesn't have to be positive attention - it is ANY attention. If you need accomplishment, you will spend your time "one-upping" your neighbor even if it means spouting out useless trivia to prove you're "in-tune" more than the next person. If you need relationship - you will stop listening to your own needs and carry the weight of the world on your shoulders running around trying to fix things out of your control. And if you need accuracy - you will nit-pick every little thing for some sense of control.

The point to all of are already important. The more you seek this out, trying to prove it, the more your EGO is tying a tight string around your throat. Survive your EGO - and don't get snared in the trap.

Put a bigger purpose than yourself, at the center of your focus.
Take a position of service.
Notice the games before you.
Master this matrix.
Invent a worthy way out.

For those of you who put everyone else first, I'm not telling you to do MORE, what I'm saying is choose a cause that will bring out your best and which encourages you to bring out the best in others.

Choose to play - seek to appreciate - stop to think - and learn to execute a life that matters.

No comments: