“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” ~Madeleine Albright, Former US Secretary of State.
This quote from Madeleine Albright has been on my mind a lot lately. As I process and think about some conversations I have had with people in my life, both personally and professionally, it has become evident to me that people are in it to win it at all costs. Not everybody, but the few that interact with you and cross your path seem to become the next lesson for learning. The irony is that we need these lessons to grow, gain experience and move to the next level. Success doesn’t come easy. It’s hard, grueling work and putting in your dues is an understatement. It’s about commitment, ethics, always doing what is right AND helping someone else in their success even if it means they may or will become more successful than you in the world’s eyes! That’s the very point where ego seems to be our downfall.
As humans we all have an ego. It is the “I” or self of any person. A person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought. Well thats what the dictionary tells us. From a psychoanalyst or clinical point of view, the ego is the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world. That reaction to the outside world is internal and is driven by our beliefs of not only the outside world but about ourselves. They can be conscious or unconscious.
My graduate degree from Syracuse University in Social Work, with a focus in mental health, has been the best training for me as I navigate in the business and entrepreneurial world as a woman, and as a business owner. I have learned that we carry ourselves and our beliefs everywhere we go. Our beliefs don’t change when we are with our families or with our colleagues. All our relationship spheres allow our beliefs to impact our success and our lives. My training as a clinician has enabled me to understand success from a very different perspective of what the traditional business definition of success would define it to be.
As professionals we are very aware of that ego-driven, type-A, success-monger. We tend to stay away from them. They are in it to win it no matter who they knock down and trample across. These type of people may seem to be more a thing of the past as it isn’t “politically’ correct to behave this way. All you need to do is look at the latest publications of success to see that the climate has change and people are understanding that true success is other focused. That social entrepreneurialism and helping others is the trend. Servant leadership is one of the business buzz words now.
The problem is, that for some people their ‘beliefs’ haven’t changed and perhaps their ego’s aren’t in check, but they can disguise themselves by wearing the mask of this new definition of success. They seem other focused. I’m not even saying that it is ill-driven with an intent to hurt someone, well at least I would like to think not. It’s like that quote about the duck. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. A wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf.
When your ego is driven by a scarcity mindset, and deep inside you don’t like to see anyone succeed more than you, and you may feel a twinge of envy and dislike as that someone moves ahead, a real opportunity for growth develops. At that moment, you can choose to create a learning & growth point to really get your ego in check. Our insecurities and opinions of others don’t impact the other person in their success and what they can accomplish, they only limit our own lasting success. It like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
We can choose the culture we create around our definition of success and forge new beliefs that allow us to help people as they cross our path. Keeping our ego in-check allows us to be aware of those twinges of insecurity, address them for ourselves and realize that they only limit ourselves and not the other person. Tough stuff really and it’s easier said then done, especially when you find yourself around people who are ungrateful or self-centered. You see, just because we may understand this concept and work on applying it in our lives, it doesn’t mean that the people we are serving or helping understand and apply it in their lives. That also goes for the people who may seem to be an ally in your life, but who take your conversations, ideas and thoughts that you may have decided to work together and create something that only promotes their success. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. It may be hurtful and just tick you off, but again it’s a learning opportunity. Conversations that include accountability, honesty, respect and authenticity with a spirit of love can make sure you are heard. But the way we continue to keep our own ego’s in check will determine the strength of our own success, because someone working from the ego-driven vantage point is only building paper walls. Their success is temporary.
Here’s to building a strong foundation of success through honesty, authenticity, love and helping others.