Should Our Egos And Positions Be Kept Separate?

A way of thinking and living that I’ve been trying to cultivate is the idea that our positions (meaning our beliefs about an issue), and who we are as people (our ego, for lack of a better word) — are two separate things.

In other words, if I allow my ego to become tightly coupled to an idea or position, it is easy to lose objectivity and the pursuit of the higher truth or reality. This can look like trying to prove you’re right just because you’re the one with the idea.  We’ve all been there.

Further, if your position is later refuted or proven wrong, it’s easy to become emotional and feel a lack of worth as a person.  These feelings can haunt us and further corrode our ability to think clearly.

Decoupling ourselves from our positions is much easier said than done.  Here’s what I’ve found helps in these types of situations:

  • Foster a culture where ideas are the things that may be right or wrong, not where people are good or bad because of their ideas. Don’t attack the person, but rather seek to understand why they believe the idea is true.  Instead of going after the person, keep in mind that it is likely they have reasoning that seems perfectly logical to them, and that you need to uncover those reasons in order to fully understand the idea.
  • Be open to the idea that your position may be flawed.  Lead by example in actively seeking input from a variety of sources to gain perspective.  Don’t attach your personal ego to the position, but float the idea as a thing of itself.   You may begin to see others doing the same.
  • Build a culture where the data are used to get at what is true. Otherwise, you may run the risk of succumbing to your own weaknesses and blind spots, or the opinion of your HIPPOs (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion). Data can become the great equalizer, helping you get to what is true and beyond personal biases.

What else?  Do you believe that keeping our egos and positions separate may help us make better decisions?  If not, why?

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About David Rosendahl
Husband, father, co-founder of MindFireInc, two-time Inc500 software company. I love building things.

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