Midweek Musings-30

Mid Week Musings

The Enemy is Egotism

There is an old fable that has made its way into the folklore of cultures across the world. It tells of two ducks and a frog who lived together in a pond and who were the best of friends. But as the hot summer days came, the pond began to dry up, and soon there was such little water left in the pond that they all realised that they would have to move. Now the ducks could easily fly to another place, but what about their friend the frog?

Finally it was decided that they would put a stick in the bill of each duck, & then the frog would hang onto the stick with his mouth & they would fly him to another pond. And so they did.

As they were flying, a farmer out in his field looked up & saw them & said, “Well, isn’t that a clever idea! I wonder who thought of it!”

The frog said, “I did …”

The tragicomic fable’s warning about the dangers of egotism is an important one.

While ego itself is a value-neutral psychological construct that gives us our sense of personal identity, author Ryan Holiday describes egotism as “that petulant child inside every person, the one that chooses getting his or her way over anything or anyone else. The need to be better than, more than, recognised for, far past any reasonable utility. It is the sense of superiority and certainty that exceeds the bounds of confidence and talent.
Why is egotism so dangerous? Because, counterintuitive as this might seem, it is actually what stands in the way of us becoming all that we are capable of being. And that is why it is so important to be able to recognize and fight it.

According to Holiday, egotism is the enemy of mastering a skill, of creative insight, of working well with others, of building true loyalty and support, or repeating and retaining success. 

Holiday suggests that the best way to avoid the egotism trap is to be open to seeing the world as others see it, to genuinely share credit with others when we experience success, and to cultivate strength and fortitude so that, when things go wrong, we don’t find ourselves wrecked by failure.  

It might take a lifetime to learn to do that, but in the interests of a happy, fulfilling and successful life, it is well worth the effort.

Have a great week!

Team Anahat