The ego is the part of ourselves that affects all patterns in which we operate.

Patterns are the way we learn by repeating something that produces the desired result. Ray Kurzweil, Google’s chief Evangelist  in his book, “How to Create a Mind,” suggests that all learning results from massive recursive processes taking place in our brains.

The problem is that one portion of us stores all the positive patterns whilst the other stores the negative. These parts are like running Mac OS Leopard and Windows on two different partitions. They don’t talk to each other. We, like the rest of nature, have two parts–the parts that Lao Tse spoke of in the Tao Te Ching over 4500 years ago.

He said “In early ancient mankind, Tao has been in existence in one’s true nature. Men possess It without knowing.”

 One part is aligned with our true nature and the other aligned with the Ego. Most people think they are all the parts. But if there is self-awareness, it is clear if you follow the suggestions and plans of the ego as there is one result. The ego in formulating a plan to achieve a result can only access the negative not the positive so in its plan there can only be one result–the very one that we don’t want. It literally creates what we are seeking to avoid. The Ego is a filter mechanism on reality, causing us to see a skewed view of what is happening.

The difficulty as we all experience, can be separating which part you are listening to and then being able to follow the plan put forward by your true nature. Many have tried and failed, relying on logic and rationale. However some of the worlds greatest thinkers and creators have downplayed thought as the source of success. Einstein said “When I examine myself and my methods of thought I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.”

No one wants to do bad things or end up with bad results but the ego can be very subtle in its plans. So when we are chasing success that can easily turn to greed. That Teammate who doesn’t perform can become a source of anger and irritation rather than an opportunity to help someone else. The ego justifies the anger response by using that same pattern again and again. It seems to work but if you are using fear as a leader, you must question; do I want my team to fear me or respect and love me?

The solution out of this?

Enhance recognition of how the ego talks to you by practicing mindfulness. Recognizing when we follow its plan and the voice that speaks. We all must know the two voices. It’s that simple and if you think you only have one that is also part of the ego’s delusion. Conversely the quiet voice only arises in moments of contemplation that often seem lost in this fast paced world of “getting things done quickly.” This voice in fact comes more as random feelings of what we should do. This has inspired Bill Gates to say “”Often you have to rely on intuition.”

Initially that new pattern will seem and feel strange. It won’t feel natural to you. People around you though will notice the shift and they will like it. A great practice is mindfulness. This means you create a moment of contemplation before you respond. You have become mindful of your own actions and responses. That pause creates the opportunity to not be swept up in the rush of emotion. It’s called “self mastery” and it’s the hallmark of a great leader.

Step 1: Notice what you are thinking in response to what happened.

Step 2: Pause and contemplate what will happen if you respond in the normal way.

Step 3: Consider what you can do differently

Step 4: Act on that new thought instead.

Step 5: if the result works keep doing it,  as it will become a new pattern.

It applies in reverse too. If you never speak up at work when you know you should, that is a negative pattern. The fear generated by your ego prevents you from bringing out your unique point of view. The movie “Walter Mitty” is great metaphor of this pattern until he decides to break free.

So maybe its time for you to break free and to avoid those patterns that keep you stuck. So learn mindfulness and  follow that quiet voice.

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