Thursday, March 1, 2007

Can there be passion without ego?

Too often the people with whom we work exhibit a self centeredness and self interest that gets in the way of productivity, creativity and possibilities. The popular term for the engine of such behavior is ‘ego’ (lesser known is that it's a mislabeling of Freud’s original theory of the psyche, in which it's the ‘id’ that refer to this drive not the ego, which is mediating force that tempers the ‘id’.)

The counter-productive influence that people’s egos exert in situations is commonplace, but how much would we lose if was constrained not by forces within but by outside pressure, such as an workplace policy that reduces the incidence of such behavior, much like other policies have done for sexual harassment and racism?

The creators in this life, the challengers, those which push boundaries of scientific and artistic endeavor, the adventurers and discovers all have egos. This group of accomplished men and women are no wall flowers. The have a presence – an ego presence – that is unmistakable.

They won’t necessarily be charismatic (like the entrepreneur Richard Branson) but beyond effusive confidence and dogmatic belief in the unassailable truth of their opinions, the quality that Richard Dawkins, Martha Stewart, Jose Mourinho and the singer Madonna all share is passion. Passion is a focused intensity towards an outcome. It inspires people to achieve and excel at what they do. It makes people deeply vested in a better outcome (often at the expense of a more balanced life) and is strongly linked to creativity. One seldom encounters a person who is passionate that does not have an ego (or rather no overt ego that is easily detectible).

The reverse is not true however. There is a surfeit of people with big egos but no passion or little talent to make things great or make great things. As challenging as encountering egotistical behavior is – and as galling as it is to have to graciously accommodate on occasion – one cannot condemn the practice outright. If there is passion, commitment, results and a lack of harm that come along with the territory, so be it. It is those empty individuals who have only ego and no talent that should not be indulged. You know who they are, and they do too. It’s largely why they act up so much. Deep down they know they’re frauds and they’re terrified you’ll find out. You may still have to encounter them but doesn't that thought makes it somehow a little easier?

1 comment:

Chuck said...

I am probably not qualified to comment on this most informed blog since I don't have an ego. I had a Yugo some time ago, in fact, I put a super charger on it and called it my super Yugo. Id'd do about 50 mpy (approximately 80 kph to you Brits). Anyway, I think this is a fine blog you have and I really wish I had an ego so I could comment. Please blog about a Yugo, a super Yugo and how fast Id'd go, so that I can contribute in a responsible and worrhtwhile manner.