My wife and I had an argument before work.
It was the kind of argument we could easily let bleed into the evening and the next day ... and the kind that could show up at work. We’ve been married over 25 years so you’d think that might not happen anymore, but I can be a little Sonny Corleonish* with my grudges ... the hot head you can’t talk business with.
My wife texted by 8 am to keep the line of communication open ... a kind attempt to minimize the bleed ( Loving Her Person). I reluctantly texted back to do my part.
Around 11:30 am, I heated up my leftovers from dinner the night before and dug in. So good!
I thought, “Man, my lady can cook! I am so lucky.”
Then I remembered, “I can’t tell her that. We’re in an argument.” And, my intention was to hold onto that argument.
But, I’d been thinking a lot about our egos and how they get in the way of those ‘more enjoyable days’ I encourage so often and thought, “Why would I want to keep my wife from having a more enjoyable day... sooner?”
At the same time, it was like a breeze came through and made me acutely aware of the impermanence of our lives. Perfect timing, except I got called into a discussion and couldn’t let her know how I felt until about an hour later.
I texted: Thank you for your cooking. I was eating the leftovers from last night and had a loving thought about you. I should have told you earlier.
Pleasantly shocked she was. (I always liked Yoda.) Not my track record to say something like that on a day that begins with an argument.
From that point forward … a more enjoyable day for everyone … my wife, my family, myself, and everyone I work with.
But even better, that experience led to what I call an ego cleanse … a focused and attentive effort on practicing my self-awareness and removing my ego from every aspect of my life (the ‘inflated sense of self-significance’ ego) … personally and professionally.
I’ve been practicing daily but it started with the following 48-hour loading dose of DumpTheMego (it’s available over-the-counter ... that’s supposed to make you smile). It hasn’t been perfect, but I know I’ve been more productive and less of a drain on others.
Maybe you’re doing okay with your ego. For those who need a little work...
How to do an ego cleanse...
- Choose to commit to the cleanse for a minimum of 48 hours no matter what.
- Remind yourself you want to be an inspiration to others rather than a drain on others. Do it once every waking hour of both days ... thoughtfully ... resting with the idea for 5 focused seconds. Set an alarm if you need it ... a Be No Ego alarm. (inspiration > drain ... that picture above is my little homemade all-the-time reminder sign)
- Remind yourself of the benefits of a world with no ego (read below). Do it at the start of each day, midday, and near the end of each day of your cleanse ... again, thoughtfully for about a minute each time. That’s 6 times total over the 2 days.
- After each benefit review, take 1 more minute to reflect on each of the 5 principles to eliminating/minimizing ego (also below). In 2 days, you’ll have reflected on those points 6 times.
- During the 48-hours, do what you can to practice the Be No Ego activities below.
- Throughout, when something happens to you or someone says something to you, remember there’s a gap between that ... and how you choose to respond. During your cleanse ... commit to the gap and choose to respond without ego. This is very important.
- At the end of each day, invest another 5 minutes reviewing how you did with the day.
All of this can be done on your own, with a group of people at work, or at home with your family, spouse, or significant other.
Take it offline and into your life ... download our ego cleanse printable guide.
If you find the cleanse valuable, you can make it a monthly or quarterly thing (just like you might do with a dietary cleanse).
A more enjoyable day for everyone ... that’s the goal.
ego: noun: 1. the self 2. an inflated sense of self-significance
Ego can get in the way of a lot of good things.
Imagine a world without it. There’d be no...
Things would get done so much faster and the day would be so much more enjoyable.
Speak no ego. Be no ego...
STAY HUMBLE. Understand you are a (small) part of the world. Patience and service should be top priorities.
BE TEACHABLE. Focus more on what you can learn and less on showing what you know. Remember that much of what you know began with the work of someone else.
LISTEN MORE. Try to truly understand what others are saying (beyond just words). It makes for better connections. Allow a gap of silence before responding. Ask questions (and listen, again).
APPRECIATE PEOPLE. Enjoy others’ contributions. Don’t squelch ideas or defend territory. Encourage people more.
RELAX. Let go of the need to be right or win every time.
Be No Ego practices...
Here are 6 specific things you can do during your cleanse. Add other practices as you think of them.
The intent is to raise your awareness of other people and minimize your awareness of you. The problem here, of course, is that doing things for others might make you feel good about yourself. Don’t let that concern stop you ... just enjoy the win-win.
- Eagerly accept any requested favor.
- Do one thing each day that’s typically handled by someone else.
- On the road, yield to everyone else’s schedule … happily let them pass, merge, and make non-accident causing mistakes. (You’ll likely be a little safer … although this isn’t about you.)
- Park farther away and leave close parking spots for others. (You’ll get extra exercise … but again, it’s not about you.)
- Let someone who looks like they’re in a rush go in front of you in line.
- When you enjoy the work of someone else, or a particular interaction, make a note of it and review the notes at the end of each day. (Take it a step further where you can and let them know.)
While these practices are for your 48-hour cleanse, stay with them longer if you find them helpful ... helpful to others and helpful to keeping your ego in check.
Need a little more?
Our little reminder cards can help. Reminder on the front. Solution on the back.
Share them. Have a conversation around the ideas. Make the points a topic for a quick (and important) meeting.
"With awareness, comes responsibility." - Sam Parker
“So then you decide, ‘Well, I’m sick of myself. I’m going to think of how other people can be happy. I’m going to get up in the morning and think, What can I do for even one other person, even a dog, my dog, my cat, my pet, my butterfly?’
And the first person who gets happy when you do that... you.”
Bob Thurman | 1941 - | American Buddhist scholar
Thurman’s revelation above comes in the last minute of his 12-minute TED Talk from 2006 (watch it below).
* Sonny Corleone was the eldest of the three sons in the classic film, The Godfather. He was a bit passionate. If you’ve not seen it, you’re committing a cultural movie tragedy.