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How much do you take from your relationships - at home or in the workplace?

Over the last three weeks I have been discussing the topic of ego (our sense of self importance) outlining how it affects our ability to deal with adversity, performing under pressure and presenting ourselves authentically to others.

I have proposed the three stages of ego which form the Leadership withoutEGO® Model. These are the Inner ego, Outer ego and Transformational ego. Those of you who have read the previous articles over the last three weeks will be aware of what our Inner and Outer Ego is and hopefully have generated some valuable self-reflection regarding what you tell yourself when under intense pressure. If you haven’t had the chance to read these, I would encourage you to do so, or read a copy of my book Detox Your Ego. This will walk you through the three stages of ego that include a seven-step detox process. The aim of the book is to highlight my findings with world champion athletes, that being selfless is more effective in sustaining high-level performances. My conclusion was that the pursuit of winning for one’s self significantly increases our likelihood that we become selfish as we seek to protect or boost our self-esteem and avoid fear through winning. Therefore by shifting from a selfish to a selfless state, you will become significantly freer, happier and more successful in life. Today I will be discussing Transformational Ego or the final stage of the process. Here you will be able to apply what you’ve learned from looking at your Inner and Outer Ego to influence and inspire others. However, even if you are yet to look at the first two stages, great learning can be drawn from this alone, as we take a closer look at how you treat others and in turn work out how best you can influence them under your leadership. This part of the process looks at whether or not you have genuine care and empathy for those around you, if you’re willing to put others first and operate selflessly, be it on the sports field or in the work place. Individuals who are able to do this create an environment with a focus on the collective excellence of the team or community. As a result, they feel total competence with their skills and are freely capable of calling on others for help. They are not dependent on the need for recognition from others. They are able to give to others and are in turn willing to gain feedback on their own performance and see the value in the advice. The Transformational Ego can be broken down into the final two steps of the detoxing process to try and identify areas to improve in order to become genuinely inspiring to those around you in life.

THE ‘TRANSFORMATIONAL EGO’ STEP 6: Be a giver - not just a taker: Do you give to others? How much do you take from your relationships - at home or in the workplace? How much do you unconditionally give? We understand intellectually about ‘unconditional’ giving, but our selfishness, our ego, means we often end up taking more than giving. Frequently in life whether we are aware of it or not we choose either a ‘give’ or ‘take’ mind-set. Whichever we decide will trigger a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, you will either give in whatever you do, or you will take from others with what you do. If you choose not to give in your life, you are choosing an ego reaction, characterised by the statement: ‘I don’t get what I want from others.’ What my own experiences in the world of professional sport has taught me, is focusing profusely on your personal benefits from a relationship means you will subsequently limit your own freedom happiness and success in life. However, if in answer to the above question, you are open to understanding your level of giving, you are choosing a selfless response. You are choosing to pay attention to and bring joy in your life. It does in fact take courage, characterised by the statement: ‘I am happy to give to others.’ The value in this mentality is of significant importance. By recognising that there is more to doing something (no matter how small) than purely what you can take for yourself, you become open to putting others first. As a result, there will be a shift in your psychology as you become relaxed and calm under pressure, feeling supported by those around you rather than isolated. STEP 7: Have clarity in life: Do you have a purpose in life? It’s a deep, philosophical question to ask ourselves, but are we clear on what our purpose and contribution is in the community that we live in or serve? There is more to life than just our work or just our play, and we need to ask what the ultimate legacy is that we wish to leave behind. If you choose not to have clarity of direction in your life, you are choosing an ego reaction. Having no direction is extremely dangerous as without it we can never feel truly fulfilled. It does not matter what you do, whether it’s running your own business, working in a job you might not feel entirely happy in or a student studying for exams, purpose can be found in everything and even spending time taking a close look at what this could be is tremendously beneficial. If you are open to understanding your direction in life, you will understand that the ultimate purpose of your life is to serve others. This selfless nature will enable you to give even more to your team or community. In so doing, you will become clearer on what your purpose is in life. I have found that elite athletes who cross the line and become world champions are, at this defining moment, clear on their purpose in life. Examples of this can be found in my book and reflect how when the spotlight is upon us, knowing what our purpose is and the bigger picture to why we are performing enables us to operate freely and to the best of our ability. REFLECTION In my experience with elite athletes when they were approaching the finishing line to become world champions, I discovered that, for various reasons, reaching the summit triggered a significant shift from self-absorption to a selfless state. That is, instead of being self-centered, they became aware of how winning could benefit others. This was a counterintuitive finding that indicated the importance of serving others must be the heart of what you do. If this has sparked your interest and you want to take the journey to the summit of the Leadership withoutEGO® Model for yourself, you must also make a shift in your mindset, like the world champions. The seven questions across the three stages I have designed in my book (two of which we have looked at in this article) will enable you to detox your ego. Indeed most will find the hardest stage is transforming their ego so that they place the needs of others first. However if this is achieved, you truly will become a transformational leader and as a result reach the summit of the model to experience freedom, happiness and success in life. All the very best Steve ■ This article is in this week's The Voice Newspaper. Steven Sylvester is a Chartered Psychologist working in Business, Sport & Education. He is an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS).


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