I’ve been thinking about Ego recently and the important role it plays in the way men define themselves. In our modern Western society we grow up by identifying ourselves with what we “have.” Elkhart Tolle in his book “A New Earth” recognises this and so what we have becomes part of our identity. As kids we have toys and as grown up kids our toys become our cars, our house(s), our clothes, our holidays, our schools and so on. We become defined by them and we become lost as we try to acquire more of them- for seemingly no particular reason. Tolle sees the world we live in as one which will have to move beyond our egos if we are going to make it a better place to live in.
Tolle’s message is powerful in itself but difficult to master. For the truth of the matter is that our egos are part of our DNA, it is “who” we are whether male or female. The likelihood of our egos playing a lesser role in our lives is outside the realms of possibility. It won’t happen. As I see it the only way we can change is to guide our egos in a new direction. Part of the LifeAgain story is explaining the power of Giving and how important it is to bring some form of Giving into our lives. By asking the question “Have You Done Your Best Work Yet” we hear most men answer “No” no matter how many ” Toys” they might have. They are unhappy and unfulfilled and yet keep on gathering in the hope that the better car, bigger holiday, fatter bank account, or newer and younger wife will bring them the aggrandizement they crave.
It won’t and it can’t because we are not built that way. We are working from the area of the supposedly rational brain rather than from the emotional heart. From the time we are kids we have been taught to start acquiring “things” and we know that we want more and if we put guilt on our guilt-ridden parents, we will end up with more. Our egos are only being taught one way to be satisfied and that is by more and more acquisitions. And it only becomes worse as our consumerist era provides us with more things to acquire and gives parents less time to spend with us and guide us. Pretty heavy stuff.
But here is how it can all change. At an early age we can be taught the importance of giving. This education can come from our parents and from our schools. So many parents, especially the fathers of boys in private schools, are becoming absentee fathers as they acquire more and spend more time acquiring it. The kids would love them much more if they spent that time with them rather than providing them an expensive education they can’t afford. Imagine a father actually guiding his son and education him in the various ways of giving back: working with each other to help others. In their own backyard and in their own community.
At the end of life imagine the pride of a father if he knows that his son would be able to stand up and say “I am proud of my father and loved him for everything he did for me and others.” Compare this to the sons who are going to say “I didn’t even know my old man.” The latter sends a shiver up my back as I write it and I hope it does the same to many of the men who will read it. The interesting thing is that you know who you are!
Educating young men at a very young age to start understanding how important a part ” giving” can be in their lives is going to set them up for carrying this forward into their adult life. If a person starts hearing his heart sing at a young age, he is going to want this to keep happening as he gets older. All the toys in the world will never match this feeling. It doesn’t mean that you go without, it just means that you go with less but gain more.
The ego is satisfied in ways we have never imagined. We still want to massage our egos but in a way where we can all be satisfied. We can still be admired but admired for being “good” people rather than “big noters.” Most importantly we can become true leaders and use our leadership skills for benefits beyond profit and acquisition. The latter are the important reasons as to why we continue to run our businesses: the former are ways we come to ensure people thrive in those businesses.