I remember many years ago, in one of my training, the facilitator asked what is “Ego” and my friend Ashok who is always very clever and is also a big movie buff answered that Ego is what is between the Id and the Super-Ego. He is absolutely right. What a clever answer.
Anyways, what we learned was that Ego in itself is not a bad thing, contrary to what many people believe. In fact, having an Ego is a good thing and is essential to one’s psychological health. However, it is also a double edged sword when it is left unchecked.
I learn the lesson quite young, around 16 years old. I am sure I had my lessons before that but what happened when I was 16 impacted me greatly and even until now, I can still remember the scene vividly.
It was one of our usual band practice and being one of the leaders of the band then, I am seen as a fierce a**hole. Then one fine day, after the practice, a guy whom I was quite friendly with came up to me and told me this:
“You know, HD, what is your problem? Your problem is that you always, ALWAYS, have to win an argument, no matter if it is right or wrong”.
I remember that and appreciate it until now because firstly, it takes the guy considerable guts to dare say that to my face and secondly, he cares about me enough to tell me the truth while others may be caught in the emperor’s new clothes syndrome. For that I am thankful to that guy even until now. He even came to my wedding ;-)
What he told me really made me think. Why am I so stuck up and has to be correct all the time? Isn’t it possible that I be wrong sometimes too? Should I listen to what others have to say too?
My second lesson came after I started work. It just struck me deep and I still can remember my boss’s face as he told me:
“If you don’t know, just say you don’t know”.
So I begin to think, do I really HAVE to know everything? It is just impossible, so to stick to the idea that I HAVE to know everything when I don’t, I sometimes just Bullshit. And people know it when you bullshit. Or you parrot someone else opinions or thoughts. And people will know that you are just a parrot. People just know that YOU DON’T KNOW and you PRETEND that you know.
Nothing is more damaging to one’s reputation than being found out that you are just a pretentious parrot.
So these two are really important lessons. First, you are not always right, so be humble, listen to others. Then only will you learn.
Secondly, it is impossible that you know everything. There are bound to be things that you don’t know. And when you don’t know, just be humble (really humble, not pretend to he humble), and just say you don’t know (and bloody well get to learn it and know it).
Only then can one be truly humble, because to know what you know, and to know what you don’t know, that is a great wisdom.
So stop bullshitting and start living.
p/s: Other lessons I have learned:
Most of the time:
a. You are at most only half as clever and good as you think you are.
b. When you point one finger at others, always realize that there are at least three fingers pointing at you.
c. Confidence is when you are strong and willing enough to admit defeat, to acknowledge that you are inferior but with a belief that you shall overcome them, and you overcome them and emerge better. Confidence cannot come from pretending to know all answers and pretending to be good in everything when you are not.