Success and Ego – Two sides of the same coin?
By: Ziad K. Abdelnour
I believe there is a very thin line between success and ego. You cross that line and you could be in big trouble. You straddle the two variables carefully and your upside has no limits.
So what have I learned in life to manage both and use them to the best of my capabilities?
Let’s start with the ego part…
Everyone has an ego. It’s rare that people these days are devoid of it.
Ego is nothing but an attachment to a wrong image of yourself.
When you start identifying yourself with your academic achievements/failures, a successful/failed career or even with the image that you are a benevolent/kind person or bad or perverted, that is ego. People generally think that success leads to ego. But on the contrary, ego leads to both superiority and inferiority complex.
It is not the ego which is bad, but the impact which it has on our personality that makes it disastrous. When you start seeing the world through these spectacles, you are full of yourself and this makes you a very proud person or you feel worthless when you are in the company of successful” people.
In my opinion, Ego is the false impression on a person’s mind that forces him/her to believe that he/she is superior to others by pulling curtains over the fact that we all, made up of same matter, will eventually end up in the same earth. In simple words, ego is not you but what you think yourself to be. It’s an image, not the object (you) and we all know the images are virtual.
So, if we don’t identify ourselves with these labels, then what do we identify ourselves with? What would make us ego-less?
This was the question I pondered upon for while for which I got the answer one day. The answer I got was from a daily spiritual television show.
When we identify ourselves by the roles we play, there is either a high or a low feeling attached to it. Instead if we identify ourselves as beings (which they called the soul, in the T.V. series) playing the roles of a student, a professional, a kind person, then there would be no superiority present in this state and ego would collapse. The same applies when you feel inferior. It is the “being”, playing the role of an inferior person. So ego-less stage is going from being role conscious to soul conscious.
Since this concept has always helped me to be stable and centered in my daily life, I now never jump with euphoria or somersault when I experience high success or I never go suicidal or into extreme depression when things are not in my favor.
I still have a long way to go to become ego-less… At least, I know now that I am on the right track.
Now moving to the success part…
In my dictionary, Success is living a life that gives you satisfaction as well as happiness, irrespective of how much you earn or how popular you are among the folks.
I know that in a world where there is cut throat competition for earning money and fame in order to be recognized as a successful person by the society, my definition may seem somewhat naive. But I have seen rich people craving for little happiness and have heard about the insanely famous celebrities craving for real friendships. Many of them are successful in the eyes of society but they are not happy. If that’s the scenario, what’s the use of such success? No doubt, money is important but earning money and running after it are completely two different things. And I am glad that I now understand the difference.
So what has ego to do with success? How does it creep in?
When you achieve something and think that it’s you who own the whole credit for your success, you give way to ego. If being grateful is not your nature, success will surely get to your head. Your parents fed you; your teachers taught you; your friends- good ones supported you and false ones taught you lessons. And when you succeed, you forget how they helped you to become who you are, eventually ending up in a false belief that you did it all by yourself.
Ego is the sister of ignorance. You may have a high IQ and may be a gold medalist in academics, but that knowledge has nothing to do with wisdom. You may be an experienced person in your forties, but again the age has nothing to do with maturity and wisdom.
Remember that all the matter in this universe, including you, is made up of atoms. These atoms come together and create a new life. And then one day the whole pattern falls apart (which we call death) to put an end to that life in order to create a different one. We live, we die and born again. This is a cycle of changes. And this life which we are proud of is a journey with only change being the constant. Whether you accept or not, we are always changing, bit by bit. So when you yourself will not stay alive forever, how can you take the guarantee of the success you achieve?
People feel superior to others because they assume that what they have will stay with them till eternity. Almost everybody knows this, but very few accept it. With the acceptance comes the wisdom. And wisdom never lets ego creep in.
What should you know to avoid it?
If you are for example a girl and think that you are so pretty and being friends with an unattractive /rural girl may tarnish your image or better to say lower your standard, remember that life’s so uncertain. Those acid attacks, cases of fire and other mishappenings can knock your door anytime without your permission, thus, stealing from you your priced possession. So be humble.
If you are holding a high status in society and consider that as the reason to feel superior to the rest, I can give you the web links of great celebrities whose stardom ended in a flash. So be humble.
If you escape everything, there will be another devil waiting for you whether you are at the top or at the foot of a mountain. That devil is none other than LOVE. Trust me, it will shatter your nonsensical ego to the pieces and will not free you from its claws till it succeeds in teaching you the lesson of humility.
Just remember that time changes, situation changes and so does the life. Never take anything for granted. Nothing belongs to you because you can’t escape death. Whatever you have will end with you in the grave. Enjoy what you have. Dream what you want. Work for passions and get that damn thing what you yearn for. But don’t look down upon anyone. The rich and the poor- the ugly and the beautiful- you and me- all are humans. Be humble.
If I have to sum up my answer in a line, I will say : It’s not success, but you- your ignorance- that builds ego. Avoid it.
Share your thoughts…