Your Ego can Ruin

Your attitud plays a big role in making or breaking a carrer or relationship

Smart people surround themselves with people who don’t agree with them.

Sometimes we get stuck in thinking a specific way. The more we hear opposing ideas, the more adamant we become about ours.
To be right means to make someone else wrong. Sometimes being right is more important to our ego than knowing what’s right or doing the right thing.
It is also possible that two people can be right, even though they disagree. And it’s possible we are wrong, or wrong to some degree, even despite all the evidence to the contrary.
The human mind tends to find evidence to prove itself right – not to find evidence to prove what is right.
Research has found that the more people hear an opposing view, even if the evidence is factual and convincing, the more tightly they hold onto their viewpoint. It seems we are more concerned about being right than finding out what’s true.

The sadhu says:
· Shrink your ego.
· Ask others what they think – and listen.
· Then try on other viewpoints for size.

This little bit of advice is worth its weight in gold. Live by it.
“The leader of the past knew how to tell, the leader of the future will know how to ask.”
  – Peter Drucker

And we are all leaders.
Everyone loves to give their opinion. Ask for it. Everywhere in the world I travel I see one thing over and over again: people in organizations and companies become frustrated when there is no system for them to voice their concerns – and for those concerns to be dealt with.

I cannot tell how many family and organizational problems could be easily solved if we just listened to one another. And I cannot tell how many problems wouldn’t exist in the first place if we listened better.
So why don’t we listen enough?

The sadhu says:
Ego has a big appetite. The more you feed it, the more it wants to eat.

When Srila Prabhupada was told that within his organization there were problems with members cooperating, he said:
“The problem is that everyone wants to be God.”
World is not a contest of who is better than whom, or who is right or wrong. When you drop the ego, you will see that we are all on the same side.

“Easier said than done,” you say. Yes, the ego doesn’t easily give in because its aim is not to see truth but to be something special. But there is a lot at stake when you allow your ego to rule your decisions.

“When you struggle between doing what is actually right and doing what seems right, then your ego is interfering with your decision.” – Darren Johnson
The ego’s business is to get attention, to get the spotlight, and to get the credit. People with egos like this should be the CEO’s of a one-man company.
Former US President Harry Truman said, “You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.”

How the ego is destructive is simple to understand. The ego’s primary interest is not in being a team player but in being acknowledged, being followed, or being right.

How will being more sadhu-like help? Because the sadhu lives free of false ego.

The sadhu knows:
It is not he or she that is great, but it is He that is great.

Plus, the sadhu is well aware that defending one’s ego is a waste of energy. The more our mental energy is invested in defending our false sense of self, the more we deprive ourselves of vital energy needed for creativity, productivity, and growth.

Big egos are not attractive. No one likes working with others whose egos are overinflated.

So let’s look at some interesting research. Marshall Goldsmith and Howard Morgan, leadership consultants, published a study on leadership development programs involving over 11,000 leaders and 86,000 of their co-workers from eight major corporations. I quote Mr. Goldsmith below:
“Our findings were very clear. Leaders that ask co-workers to provide suggestions for improvement, listen to their coworkers, learn from the people around them and consistently follow-up are seen as becoming more effective. Leaders that don’t ask don’t get much better. A few years ago, Leader to Leader published a similar study with relationship customers and found very similar results. External customer satisfaction goes up when customer service representatives ask, listen, learn and follow-up.”

Now let’s look at some enlightening observations on inflated egos from Mr. Goldsmith.
“When I have asked over 50,000 leaders to ‘rate themselves’ relative to their professional peers, the results are very consistent, and very amazing! About 60 percent of all leaders rank themselves in the ‘top 10 percent’ of their professional peer group, almost 85 percent say they are in the ‘top 20 percent.’ Over 98 percent claim to be in the ‘top half’! The performance of the company has very little to do with the selfassessment of its leaders. I have done this exercise with leaders in four companies that were considered (at that time) as the “most admired” in America – the results were about the same. I have also done this exercise with leaders in two companies that were facing bankruptcy – the results were almost identical!”

I think we all are a bit like them. So is it any wonder how we can justify not asking others for input? Why should we ask others when in our mind we think we know more, are smarter or more successful than everyone else?

You see how the inflated ego can destroy you? Let me rephrase that. You see how an inflated ego is destroying you?

What does a sadhu do? He asks, “How can I improve? What am I doing wrong?” He is not even afraid to ask, “What is wrong with me?” (Gentlemen, are you brave enough to ask your wife these questions?)

How can he do this?
”The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”
  – Norman Vincent Peale

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A great man is always willing to be little.”
Are we willing to be great?
Plus, being realistic about ourselves is the sign of intelligence.
“The fool who knows that he is a fool is for that very reason a wise man; the fool who thinks he is wise is called a fool indeed.” (Buddhism – Dhammapada 63)
A sadhu knows he is not the body, but the soul within the body. So his ego is not identified with his position, success, talents, intelligence or possessions; he is identified with his true self, the soul.
There is incredible power and synergy in companies that develop this sadhu-like culture. People naturally cooperate, support one another, and work well together.

Over and over again I have seen teams that couldn’t work well together. Because of this, tremendously qualified and talented people were accomplishing a fraction of what they were capable of. And even though their leaders asked them again and again to cooperate, to compromise, and to listen one another, they struggled to do this. Why?

Because they were infected by the I-am-right syndrome.
The ego has such an intense need to be right that it often doesn’t even matter what side of the issue it is on. As long as it can win the argument and prevail, it is happy. In my workshops I demonstrate this reality by getting people to argue in such a way that they forget what they are arguing about. But still they are attached to winning the argument!

The Sadhu says:
It is simply smart to listen.

Why? Because we don’t know everything, and we are surrounded by people that know things we don’t know.
And it is also smart to listen to people who don’t buy into everything we say – people who sees things differently than we do. They will broaden our perspective, challenge our paradigms and open our minds to seeing and thinking in a different way. They will help us appreciate there are other ways of seeing the same thing.

We should understand an interesting fact of human psychology. Once we have been convinced of something, we tend to be unwilling to change our view, not because we are right, but because . . . well, it is hard to say why. After Columbus proved the world is round, those who grew up believing the world is flat did not change their viewpoint, despite the fact that every educational institutional in the world was teaching that the world is round. Not only can’t you teach an old dog new tricks, you can’t teach him new ideas!

The sadhu warns:
Old dogs shouldn’t run companies, be leaders or managers.

Not listening can cost you dearly. Many people lost great opportunities presented to them because they couldn’t listen. The internet and personal computers were rejected as ideas that would never catch on. So Bill Gates had to do it on his own. Before the Beatles made it, they were told electric guitar music has no future. One of the best-selling books in the world, Chicken Soup for the Soul, was rejected by 130 publishers before it was accepted. These and many other good ideas were rejected as bad ideas because they didn’t fit into the paradigm of some CEO’s way of thinking.

Be sadhu-like by encouraging others to ask, listen and learn from everyone around them. Be sadhulike by being a role model and doing the same thing. Create a culture in which ego is replaced by listening to others. If you do so, you will flourish and so will your family and the company or organization you work for.

Mahatma Dasa, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, joined ISKCON in 1969. He is well known in ISKCON for his music and seminars. Visit his website: