In The Ego is the Enemy, author Colin Wright encourages us to get beyond our own selfish thoughts and desires. He encourages us to be aware of our ego and the times that our ego kicks in to run the show and determine what we do. The Ego, Holiday writes, seeks things for our own self-interest, and puts us in situations where it actually becomes harder to achieve what we want or to live the life that we want. Rather than pursuing our ego, Holiday suggests that we work toward or goals by helping others first. He suggest that we practice humility and put in the grunt work, tackling projects that are small and seem unimportant but will help us learn and grow over time.
He writes, “Imagine if for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something you could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefited them and not you. The cumulative effect this would have over time would be profound: You’d learn a great deal by solving diverse problems. You’d develop a reputation for being indispensable. You’d have countless new relationships. You’d have an enormous bank of favors to call upon down the road.”
Helping others in this way truly does help ourselves. It puts our short term self-interests aside as we assist other people and show that we care about them. People want help and are more likely to give you opportunities to grow when what you are doing is serving them rather than serving yourself. To pursue this type of strategy, you have to accept that your work may be kept in the background and that other people may get more credit than you for the work you do or the ideas you produce. Holiday encourages us to be confident that this approach will still lead to long term success even if it feels we are being overlooked in the short run.
This strategy aims toward is positive results in the world, your company, or in your family. What matters most is that you are part of a successful team and that the world is made better with your actions. Where we can be confident is that in the long run we will be recognized as the source of the great ideas, or as the person who put in the hard work to keep things moving in a positive direction. But even if we are not, we still benefit in the long run by a rising tide that lifts us with the other people in our company, family, or group. Pursuing success and helping others become the best versions of themselves will ultimately help us more and create more cohesion among the groups we belong to than will our selfish attention seeking ego.
In James Harmon’s collection of advice letters, Take My Advice, Dr. Laura Schlessinger writes, “Your role is to find out what your purpose is, and to face it with nobility, integrity, and courage.” She writes this after explaining that the meaning of life lies with our relationships and services to other people, and it is not hard to imagine that Dr. Schlessinger would consider everyones true role to be to find a way to make valuable contributions in the lives of others. Dr. Schlessinger follows her quote up with the idea of each person recognizing their importance to others and the universe, and each person finding a way to improve the universe one small action at a time.
In this sense, Dr. Schlessinger is bringing forth a new idea for each person finding their passion and mission in life. For me it has become trite to hear others talk about finding a true passion and using it to create a career. The problem is that not everyone has a strong business sense to monetize their career, and many people simply have a passion that they enjoy as a hobby and not a career. Deciding that you must be passionate about something, and that you must profit from that passion can ruin what it is you enjoy, or misguide you towards something that you merely enjoy but do not fee truly passionate about.
The advice that Dr. Schlessinger offers combats this idea of passion, because for her, our role is to find those who we can serve and discover solutions to improve what it is we dislike about our world. The end goal in finding a purpose according to Dr. Schlessinger is to become passionate about leaving a positive mark on everything, so that the world is better after you have passed through it. She removes the pressure from monetizing your passion, because we can always do something that will help improve the planet, and we can always live with the idea of helping others before ourselves.