The Ego Tree

What to do with the ego? We all have one. The ego is always at play, driving our behavior. Making sure others know how awesome we are. Often the ego shows up as the “I”, the “self". “I did this great thing!”, “I don’t like you anymore” or “I need to take care of myself”.  

At its best the ego protects us and gives us the confidence to keep moving forward. The ego keeps up alive, sometimes literally. On the negative side, the ego doesn’t really care about others. It’s job is to serve and protect. Anything that threatens the ego is subject to some kind of attack- passive or aggressive. 

Raised in a Christian home I was taught to think of others first. To be a servant. Thinking of yourself before others was, basically, sinful. Although aspects of that teaching still resonate with me post-Christianity I have also come to see the ego in a different light. My recent exploration of Buddhism has revealed a new way to consider the ego- as something that deserves respect if not domination. 

When I feel my “ego” rising up to make sure “Jeb” is getting the needed acknowledge my initial reaction is to feel a low level of disgust. Not dissimilar to the feeling you get after scratching poison ivy. The initial endorphin surge is replaced by the knowledge that the poison is only spreading. Same with the ego, it never seems to be satisfied, always wanting more. 

So what is one to do? It’s not like we can just get cut the ego out of our lives. It's there for a reason. Also, the Christian ideal of “dying to oneself” seems increasingly foreign to me as I further explore what it means to be a “self”. Now I am seeking the acceptance of the self- and all its dimensions. Instead of trying to kill off the ego, what if we got to know it better? See what it needs to be healthy? After all, the ego isn't really poison ivy, it's just feels like that sometimes. 

I've come to think of the ego as a tree. It needs to be fed- water, light, air, etc- but it also needs to be trimmed and pruned. A healthy ego is not weak nor on steroids. It has its place and its space. It leaves room for others. It plays a role but isn’t the only tree in the forest, if you will. Instead of trying to cut it down maybe we should care for it as a living thing that has its own needs?

But who is it, exactly, that can feed and trim the ego tree? Perhaps it's the universal “Self”. The Self that runs through all of existence, playing hide and seek between conflict and peace, light and dark, on and off. I don’t know. But I’m ok with that for now.  

Selling The Realized Self

Hail entrepreneurs and marketers! I’m curious, have you noticed the shift? In recent years we've gone from selling “stuff” to selling experiences. This has been coming for a while but the transition is almost complete. You can find the roots in our recent abundance that triggered our shared awakening. Now that our basic needs are fulfilled, what next? I believe it’s the fully realized self.

So in the end, all we really sell is the realized self. So much is standing between us and that “self”. Our bodies, our habits, our diet, our activity, our thoughts. We need help. Underneath all this crap is a unique and, just maybe, magical being. 

This pure self is what we all seek. But we can’t do it alone. We need to help to get there. It’s a  massive collaboration. Essentially the internet is the playground for that collaboration. Not just the old internet trapped behind a screen. We are being connected via an increasingly screenless Internet.

The “internet of things” has begun intersecting our lives at an intimate level. We know the only way to create change is to change thoughts and habits. Recent movements like the “quantified self” are enabling awareness and change. This is not a fad but our new reality. This presents an even bigger opportunity than the screen-bound internet. So how do you cash in? By creating awareness and changing behaviors. By helping others live better lives.

So the more you help others realize their potential the more you will have to gain. But here’s the rub, those that have success will be increasingly held to a higher and higher standard. The next generation of entrepreneurs and marketers will be forced to be far more virtuous than the present or past. 

This is because they will experience an unheard of level of openness and transparency. Which means accountability, which can be bad for sales. 

So how do you navigate this new world? How do you sell the realized self and not screw up? 

We must become worthy of our customers and employees. We must set the example of a fully realized self, show how our product or service has changed our lives. But it isn’t really a product or service we are selling, it’s a cause.

Companies without causes will be lost in a world of infinite choice. If following that cause hasn’t changed your life for the better then why should I bother? To sell the fully realized self we must first practice what we preach. 

The challenge is set, all businesses must answer the question- what helped you that could help me? How can you change me for the better?