Tag Archives: ego

When you suddenly see kingfishers everywhere and you assign meaning. Then C.G. Jung calls this synchronicity or is it just well-done Marketing brought to you by Google? An unknown word appeared in my life and it was the project name from Action from Switzerland called “Halcyon Days”. I had to spell this word several times as I mentioned it on several occasions. And I always got it wrong.

So on a Monday night when I was watching a documentary on C.G. Jung and synchronicity, I noted down the correct spelling. I hoped that I would now spell it correctly. That evening I learned that there are a few “coincidences” between C.G. Jung and J.R.R. Tolkien. That was quite a fascinating discovery as I feel these two come from two completely separate fields of my life. However, the connections are intriguing. 

Kingfishers everywhere

Then, I heard from a friend about an old seventies TV-series that I binged on. It was one of those cold Saturdays and Sundays where going out of the house was just not an option. Guess what? One of the main families in the series had the last name “Halcyon”. I then learned how to pronounce it and found out that it is actually a special kind of tree kingfisher (bird). I finally checked Wikipedia: “Halcyon Days is an oblique reference to the Greek mythological figure Alcyone”.

“Ovid and Hyginus both also make the metamorphosis the origin of the etymology for “halcyon days“, the seven days in winter when storms never occur. They state that these were originally the 14 days each year (seven days on either side of the shortest day of the year[5]) during which Alcyone (as a kingfisher) laid her eggs and made her nest on the beach and during which her father Aeolus, god of the winds, restrained the winds and calmed the waves so she could do so in safety. The phrase has since come to refer to any peaceful time. Its proper meaning, however, is that of a lucky break, or a bright interval set in the midst of adversity; just as the days of calm and mild weather are set in the height of winter for the sake of the kingfishers’ egglaying.

Now you all know that Wikipedia is not scientific but it is often a good first reference for discovery, especially if you are looking for connections. Today, I read an article in which Ellie Golding was mentioned. And she has an album called “Halcyon Days” . Yes, it’s a coincidence, maybe…maybe not. Maybe Gaby Tan, the founder of AFS is a fan of that seventies series or Ellie Golding or really good at Greek mythology or maybe she just likes the bird.

Synchronicity

What C.G. Jung would say though is that I assigned a deeper meaning to this and that is why it is synchronicity. I was ruminating about the question if I should continue to edit my Bollywood-meets-Bond-style novel “Double Happiness”. Maybe you don’t know that I ventured into creative writing a few years ago. I never fully finished “Double Happiness”. Fear took hold of me. I did not see immediate success and decided to quit. Part 1 was published, Parts 2 to 4 are draft manuscripts lying around on my computer. I did not even know if I still had them.

And then out of the universe I get a sign that reminds me of India. The kingfishers are everywhere and my favorite Indian beer brand is “Kingfisher”. I cannot remember a time in my life that was so mellow and calm. So, if I wanted to lay my artistic eggs this fasting period up to Easter 2018 would be the best time to do it.

The Lens of the Writer and the Paintbrush of the Artist

We look at life through a different angle. As writers we have a lens. We make the normal day-to-day visible with words just like a painter who brushes a situation in a shopping center into a piece of art or a photographer who captures a war story in one image. What we do with our writing is to paint a world inside your head and sometimes we touch your soul. And when we touch your soul we feel connected through the words. There is beauty in that.

What I did not really know about C.G. Jung until the recent explorations was that he painted and that he was so interested in mythical topics. When I picked up the archetypes for the second time, his words about cultural separation seemed so up to date it was almost scary.

“Unser Intellekt hat Ungeheures geleistet, derweilen unser geistliches Haus zerfallen ist….Schliesslich graben wir die Weisheit aller Zeiten und Völker aus und finden, dass alles Teuerste und Kostbarste schon längst in schönster Sprache gesagt ist.” (Carl Gustav Jung, Archetypen, originally 1934, 2010 ed., p. 19)

Can you grasp the idea that there is a collective unconscious in this world and that we can tab into it like into a radar? There is a painting in Jung’s red book that symbolizes the channel to the collective soul. For a while, when the Internet was fairly new in the 90-ies and only geeks knew about it many of them thought of the Internet as our collective consciousness. I felt it was Twitter for a long time.

What has our Collective Unconscious Become?

Is the Internet now the collective, global expression of our fears, prejudice and biases? And are we just stuck in a loop where what we set out there echos back to us? Did I find Halcyon’s everywhere because I was looking for them? Is it all just selective perception or is it Google spying on me? 

This needs further exploration. Rest assured though that the answers will rock your grounds, shake your inner most beliefs of what is true and what is not. Are you with me on this journey?

Tell me about your synchronicity experiences please.

Ego can be a blocker of your personal development. Nothing happens when you are passive. You can wait for your life to happen and you will never see any fundamental change. Fundamental changes only occur from within. When you encounter your dark side and confront your fears. Others say that “life starts outside of your comfort zone”. That’s not true. You need your comfort zone.

You must not jump and do a complete makeover. In my experience, little steps are a lot more helpful to build a more fulfilled and happier life. Little steps could be to focus more on what is happening in the here and now, to appreciate more what you have and to continue on your journey to make a more significant contribution to this world. A little step could be to help a staff member be more productive, support an elderly citizen with their day-to-day routines or even being a better partner.

Entitlement is the Path to the Dark Side

What makes me cringe these days is the entitlement. I wonder why we believe that we are entitled to status, prosperity, and lifestyle. Why some of us feel entitled to rule the world, exploit our planet and dominate others?

Who allows you to feel better than others? What is the underlying assumption? Who do you serve? We often do not realize how privileged we are until we meet others who are less privileged. It’s a good practice to put yourself in the shoes of another human once in a while. One you might not be able to relate to so easily: A beggar or homeless, a refugee or a maid. Here is what I have learned by now: You and I we were lucky. We were lucky that we were born to our parents, that we had access to education and that we never knew what hunger means.

If you feel a little bit ashamed now, I would like to welcome you to the club. Once in a while, I try to check on my attitude, especially when I dramatize or when I drown in a sea of self-pity. In these (now rather rare) moments when we look at everything we have not done, not achieved, not had as kids or young adults. The moments when we wish we had had more guidance from our parents, more support from our teachers and mentors, more money and more energy.

The Ego-Cave

This is the ego trying to pull you back into its cave. A hungry animal that yearns for recognition, the badge of honor, the Pulitzer-Prize, one million EUROs in the bank and a youthful look. The ego is a monster and it is dangerous.

You wonder, how you can balance it? If I understand the philosophers and psychiatrists correctly only by selfless acts. By losing yourself in acts of kindness and support without expectation, without reward. You will ask me next if then you are not exposing yourself to abuse and being used by others. I say maybe. You still have to know where your limits are. I would suggest though that small acts of kindness do have a place and need a place in our modern world.

We cannot continue to behave as if everything we need from others is a business transaction. If we do that our relationships become transactional in nature and this is not working for friendships. It’s also not working for business relationships. If we only think in quid pro quo (or in the Matcher style as Adam M. Grant would call it) we are not growing up. We remain children of our society on pocket money. We demand nourishment but we are not prepared to nourish ourselves.

What could you do?

As a first step, I would like to encourage you to log your attitude and write about situations where you may feel privileged or entitled. As a second step, you could consider volunteering for while.

Kind regards
Angie Weinberger

PS: Check out this post too: The dark force in us – From Darth Vader to Jedi 

This video about C.G. Jung’s concepts is also a good addition to this post.

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What is Ego?

After years and years of success in a corporate role my ego had been quite inflated until I

  1. a) moved to another country and
  2. b) started my own company several years later.

I notice an overinflated ego when I believe the world should be centered around me. Don’t get me wrong. It is ok to be self-confident, assertive and to believe in your own abilities but once in a while we need to accept that the world does not revolve around our needs alone. I think it is also healthy to learn that we are not perfect robots and that we embrace our fears and weaknesses.

Sometimes I feel offended if anyone acts as if I did not matter or if I did not have a say in a decision. Same is true if someone doubts my competence on a matter in which I feel highly competent. I hate when someone points out a mistake I made, even if it is a small one because in my self-image I don’t make “mistakes”. My self-image is that of a competent professional. However, competent and perfectionist is different. A competent person can do the job in a reasonable time. A perfectionist wastes time on detail that does not add value to the process or should be automated. Think of additional flowers you paint into a landscape.

As opposed to the image others have of you, you might feel that you do not always meet your own standards. When I am in a good mood, I tend to blame my lazy inner PA Amber Valentine, who sucks at her job.

When I am in a weak mood though (angry, hungry, lonely or tired), it could happen that a small error triggers an emotional landslide with elephant raindrops coming out of my eyes. Most of the time I later admit to myself, that most of these incidents are not about me and if I assume positive intentions, than I often see the other person’s perspective. We all just try to find solutions with the means and ideas we have at hand.

I also noticed that often we all misunderstand each other more than we actually understand each other. We easily feel criticized, when the other person tried to support or help us.

How does Ego get in the Way of Collaboration?

Once your ego has been hurt you will probably look for ways to “repair” the damage. This could happen by getting into fights with colleagues about nitty-gritty details or by showing constantly to others how superior you are too them. It’s a habit of highly intelligent colleagues, that they like to point out the flaws of an idea or that they push away an argument with a derogatory comment. (Isn’t it obvious that my argument makes sense?)

As a leader, you need to simplify and find explanations that are easy to grasp.

When you apply mathematics for example, I always liked, how one of my best math teachers in high school would teach us the way to derive the formula instead of just learning the formula (which unfortunately was often asked in business classes at university). Why would you waste brain space to learn something by heart that you can now easily recreate with a macro. If you don’t understand the macro, then you have an issue.

When you struggle with simple calculations

A few weeks ago it took me at least 15 minutes to figure out why I did not get a simple balance sheet calculation. I would say, I am good with numbers, but I need to have a bit of clarity in presentation too. This takes a bit of practice though and most of us think, that our presentation and writing is clear to others, while most of the time it is only clear to those who come from a similar background and have gone through a similar kind of education, training and practice. Someone with 20 years of work experience might judge cases more based on gut feeling than fact data. I remember hearing the same from Risk Managers, Doctors and Lawyers. I sometimes don’t know how to explain my judgement other than gut feeling so I need to rationalize it for others to understand where I am coming from.

It’s the same with delegating tasks. If you are not explicit what you need, by when and from whom you might not get anything or you only get half of what you expected. Most of the time you will therefore be disappointed by your collaborators or team members.

However, if you ego is in your way you might feel that you should be irreplaceable and you will create barriers to the flow of knowledge and barriers to collaboration. These barriers could even be sub-conscious. When we work with global, virtual teams to improve collaboration and performance, we teach you basic rules for true collaboration and we also practice ways to build trust and reduce ego-driven moves.

As a manager of such a global, virtual team, you will face challenges of compensating your team members in a fair manner and one or the other might have a better way of showing their contribution to a project and getting the credit.

Four Tips for Reducing your Ego-driven Actions

Nurture yourself: Your inner child most probably has not fully grown up yet. Nurture it and feed it. Look at your needs.

Develop collaboration principles: If you want to collaborate with others develop a common set of principles that you can fall back on in case of doubt.

Accept new tasks and projects with humbleness: Accept that you will have to learn when you move into a new role, a new project or a new task. Learning takes energy and effort. Stay humble.

Show true compassion: You could start with balancing your ego with moments of true compassion and support. Then you have a chance to become a leader, instead of a manager.