I felt the excitement rising in my chest. Everything I was saying made perfect sense, and our small group of ten was coming up with what seemed like one brilliant idea after another—this was the best retreat ever!! I couldn’t imagine how any of the other 13 groups could match the creativity that was surging through ours.
Our assignment was to brainstorm how to improve magnetism and dynamically improve communication. As we made our way back to our seats to make our individual reports, I could feel my heart rate increasing.
Yeah, baby! That’s because WE came up with the best ideas. WE were the ones asking the tough questions. Could any other group be as brilliant as us?
My ego was rising. I tried to keep my anticipation in check, telling myself to hold the excitement for a few more minutes. For there was NO WAY that any of the other groups could match OUR great ideas…
or could they?
Have you ever played Boggle? It’s a word game in which you try to make words from a square of 16 letter cubes in 3 minutes. Each person then announces their words, and if they found your same words nobody gets any points, no matter how brilliant and clever you thought you were.
By the time the reporter from our group went up, all of our brilliant ideas had been presented by the other groups, not once, not twice, but as many as 4 times. Just goes to show that thoughts are not individually but universally rooted. Great minds think alike! We were all on the same wavelength…
…but yet I thought that WE were so special…
In the first few moments of being humbled, I instantly recognized the feeling.
That same old feeling of getting hyped-up while playing a solo, winning a race, anticipating the resulting exultation which would…what, David? What would all that praise do?
Nothing but make the INEVITABLE fall of the ego ever more humbling.
So if stage fright stops the flow of inspiration before a performance, riding the ego certainly takes it down afterwards! Fear and excitement are opposite sides of the same coin.
What are the answers? Is there any way to stop the process before it gets the better of us? Here are some suggestions that I chose to ignore on the day at the retreat:
- Watch for the warning signs of tightness in the heart. There is a difference between enthusiasm and ego-bound excitement.
- When you feel your breathing tighten, relax your lower abdomen for deeper fuller breaths. This automatically helps your hypothalamus to stop telling your body that you are in a “fight or flight” situation.
- Expand your awareness as much as possible and try to feel for the positive enthusiasm and energy of a group, instead of trying to be the best within it.
- Be detached, but not disinterested, in how well or poorly your performance is going.
- If there are others who can perform equally as well or better than you, learn how to enjoy not only their genius but yours as well.
Furthermore, If you find yourself “fishing for compliments,” it may be a sign that you are a little too addicted to the ego-ride. For the ego can NEVER be fully satisfied and has a voracious appetite. It will need to be fed constantly if you choose to go that route.
But just as you can change your diet by adding in more nutrient rich food to crowd out the junk food, simply bring in the energy-rich gratitude to keep you in the positive flow for your best possible outcome.
Finally, get to know the sound of your ego-mobile as it comes rumbling down the street to lure you in for a ride. Although it isn’t a stranger, where it takes you isn’t always better than where you are right now.