Chase Your Dreams by Living in the In-Between

Dreams and aspirations are part of the human spirit. Many of us set goals and intentions toward making these a reality. However, much of the time, it means we emphasize the macro over the micro. The macro, after all, is the destination the dream provides. The micro is the journey, which has to occur before realizing anything. To truly chase your dreams, you must live in the in-between.

The in-between is just what you think it is; it’s the valleys between the peaks of life’s milestones. Many goal-focused people only see the valleys as a necessary nuisance. They don’t take time to enjoy those moments and learn all you can from them.

I once had this mindset and achieved my personal and professional dreams. Ignoring the in-between didn’t bring much happiness or satisfaction. I decided to evolve my fate and identity, and I captured this life-changing pivot in my book The In-Between: Life in the Micro.

Taking My Ego Out of the Equation

We all have an ego; it’s a fundamental part of our consciousness. It can serve us well or be a detriment to our growth. My ego often got in the way of living in the in-between. It cared only for the accolades of arriving at those peaks.

Eventually, I came to see the damage it was causing and could take it out of decisions I made and interactions. By doing so, I felt connected and purposeful in the in-between journey. I began to embrace being present in micro-moments, and it didn’t deter me from chasing my dreams.

You Can Chase Dreams and Embrace the In-Between

There’s a misconception that pushing toward a dream or a goal is about staying unflinchingly focused on the macro. You may accomplish something, but you’ll look back and see broken relationships and selfish behavior.

So, I was able to reconcile that both these things can be true. I can aspire to fulfill my dreams and enjoy the path toward them. I don’t have to suppress my emotions and reflections to achieve something grand.

Finding this balance between the micro and macro takes time. You’ll fumble along the way because you’re human. You’ll make mistakes and lose sight of things from time to time. How you respond and learn from them is what matters.

The In-Between Is Where Dreams Are Born and Fostered

Maybe it’s ironic to say that dreams originate in the in-between. When we begin to desire something and realize what we’ll need to get there, it’s happening in the in-between. It’s a collection of micro-moments that help us formulate the big dream.

It’s in the micro where we foster and nurture dreams, setting the course for how to attain them. Dreams would have nowhere to go without the micro. Coming to this understanding sets you up to assess your identity and create your intentions for situations that will bring you closer to your dreams.

You can learn more about this process and why the in-between is crucial to dreams by reading my book.

How Your Ego Impacts Your Life

your ego is not your amigoContrary to the saying no regrets, we all feel remorse, shame, or guilt from particular moments in our lives. In most cases, our ego is the culprit behind our regrettable decisions. Because of too much ego, we’ve all missed job opportunities, failed to tell loved ones how much we love them, or stayed too long in unhealthy relationships.

Our ego is part of our identity, but we shouldn’t let it take over our lives. Read on to learn more about the ego — what it is, its role in our lives, and how we can keep it in check.

What Is Ego?

To understand egos better, we have to discuss Sigmund Freud’s personality theory. According to the famous neurologist, human personality is a complex subject with three core components: the id, the ego, and the superego.

  • From the moment we enter the world, the id is already with us. It is the primitive and instinctive personality component that responds to our natural urges.
  • The ego evolves from the id to ensure that we address our desires and needs in an acceptable manner. Freud described it as “the part of the id which has been modified by the direct influence of the external world.”
  • Our superego emerges around age five to act as a self-critical conscience.

According to Freud’s definition, the ego is the decision-making component of our identity. It mediates between the unrealistic id and the outside world. Unlike the id, reason is the guiding force behind the ego.

Here are some functions of the ego:

  • External perception
  • Self-awareness
  • Problem-solving
  • Motor functions
  • Adapting to reality
  • Memory
  • Reconciling conflicting ideas

When it comes to a person’s identity, the ego is the executive agency that oversees functions, providing us with direction and guidance. Without it, we would do whatever we pleased without any thought of consequences.

Let’s delve deeper into how the ego works.

How the Ego Works

The ego functions based on the reality principle — a mechanism that requires individuals to forgo instant gratification for a more appropriate time. It also works to achieve a balance between our moral standards created by the superego.

For example, our ego prevents us from eating lunch during a job interview. We might be hungry, but we could eat after the meeting.

It stops us from breaking up with a partner in public. Such conversations can wait until we’re in a private space.

It makes us think twice about calling out a boss in front of our clients. After all, internal office affairs should stay within the group.

However, while our ego works in our preconscious and conscious minds, it has a powerful bond with the id. In most cases, the ego prevents us from doing things we naturally want to do because of how the world might react. It doesn’t care too much about what we think is right.

It’s the voice that told us not to raise our hands in first grade even if we knew an answer to a question. What would the teacher do if the answer was wrong?

It’s the voice that told us not to kiss our parents in public as teenagers. What would our friends say?

It’s the voice that told us not to listen to an intern’s idea. How would colleagues react if a younger person outsmarted the manager?

If you’re not aware of how your ego affects your life, you will have many regrets in the future. Read on to learn more about the negative side of an egocentric life.

The Negative Effects of a Big Ego

The ego is not a bad personality component. However, in most cases, people don’t know that their egos have taken over the id with little regard for the superego. We often dub these individuals egotistical.

Humans with big egos are not intrinsically bad, but they make decisions based on other people’s opinions instead of what they think is right. Let’s look at how such behavior can affect your life negatively.

Ineffective Leadership

Egotistic leaders tend to reject great ideas, hoard credit, and put people down. They always want to be the smartest people in the room. In most cases, these leaders dampen the productivity and motivation of a team.

On the other hand, effective leaders always have the company’s best interest at heart. They make decisions based on what they think is right and not others’ opinions. Check out my book to learn more about the dynamics of letting ego run the workplace.

Shallow Relationships

Egotistic individuals care too much about what other people think. Instead of building genuine connections with other people, they think about petty things like how their friends will like their partners or if their significant others will elevate their social status.

Additionally, these individuals often dominate conversations and barely listen to other people. Again, they’re not necessarily ill-meaning people. Watch this video to understand the motivation behind these individuals’ behavior better.

Vicious Complacency

People with big egos often overestimate themselves and underestimate colleagues and competitors. They are too proud to accept training sessions, improvement suggestions, and constructive criticism.

These individuals often think they are irreplaceable and don’t make moves to make themselves better or acknowledge their weaknesses.

Ways to Control Your Ego

If you want to control your ego to improve your personality, you have to become aware of how it affects your relationships with colleagues, relatives, friends, and partners.

When you start to think about the motivation behind your acts, you will understand other people better. You will start noticing other egotistical individuals around you, and you will find yourself dealing with them better.

Let’s look at some foolproof ways to keep your ego in check.

1.    Do Something Nice for Someone

Are you the type of person who finds it challenging to perform random acts of kindness for other people? It’s because your ego often gets in the way.

One of the best ways to overcome your self-consciousness is to go out of your way to do something nice for someone. Here are some easy ones to try:

  • Compliment a subordinate in a meeting.
  • Cook breakfast for your family.
  • Buy a meal for a homeless person.

Don’t think about the consequences of your actions; just keep doing nice things for other people. This habit will help you think of more important things in life than other people’s opinions.

2.    Tell Someone Something You’ve Wanted to for a While

Egotistical people often concern themselves about what other people think, leading them to avoid saying things they mean to say. Our egos are experts at preventing us from expressing ourselves genuinely.

For example, don’t be ashamed to tell loved ones how much they mean to you. If you think your dad is the best person in the world, go ahead and say it. Doing so will help you eliminate future regrets. After all, we often regret the things we never did or said.

3.    Listen to Other People

Often, people with big egos indulge in one-sided conversations. They want to look opinionated, urging them to dominate discussions. If you often find yourself talking over others, you might have a big ego. There is a cure for this: start listening to other people!

Before you respond in a conversation, let the person you’re talking to finish their train of thought. Also, don’t pretend to listen. Hear the other person out for real. Doing so will help you learn new things and earn other people’s trust. Learn how to monotask and be present in my book.

4.    Learn a New Skill

If you really want to keep your ego in check, become a newbie at a new skill. This strategy is one of the most humbling experiences. Try something that excites you, like cooking, video production, or information technology.

Somewhere between your first class and mastering a skill, you will feel like the worst student in the room. When this happens, let go of your fears and doubts and ask for help. Find people more knowledgeable than you are and listen to their advice. Not only will you learn a thing or two about yourself, but you might also find new friends along the way.

5.    Stop Complaining

A Southern Living article reveals that the average person complains anywhere between 15 to 30 times a day. In most cases, people with big egos find themselves taking everything personally.

For example, if you get Starbucks coffee on the way to work, don’t grumble about the line or your misspelled name. Instead, be grateful that you have the time to enjoy a fresh cup away from home.

When you find yourself stuck in traffic, don’t whine about it. You can use the time to listen to your favorite songs or podcasts.

Lastly, when you find yourself experiencing WiFi troubles, don’t make a fuss about it. Instead, focus on what you can do even without an internet connection.

Stop complaining and enjoy every moment. Doing so will keep you grounded.

Final Thoughts

The ego is not a negative force, but in most cases, it’s not your friend (your ego is not you amigo, as I sometimes say). It cares too much about the outside world to let you be your true self. If you let it command you, you will discover that it can lead to ineffective leadership, shallow relationships, and vicious complacency.

Thankfully, Interested in more? Send me a message to learn about my transformative self-improvement programs.

Your Ego is Not Your Amigo

cybersecurity certificationsThis blog post is a transcript from the video at the end of this post.

So what has your ego really cost you in your life? Your ego has probably cost you a lot more than you realize. It may have cost you your job, may have cost you a career, a relationship, may have cost you not living up to your potential. There are all of these things that our ego can have an effect on us with. And they’re all negative, not any of them are positive. Our ego is our image of ourself or our self-worth or our identity, but the keyword is there is all about ourselves, that’s really the ego.

I work in cybersecurity and a lot of people have an ego in cybersecurity and their ego stems from the fact that they want to be the smartest person in the room. That’s how they get their significance. This causes a lot of issues because if you want to be the smartest person in the room, it’s hard to work well together. It’s hard to come up with a solution because you may have to admit your solution is not the best one. So the ego really affects industries and people in ways they don’t even know.

One of the anchoring moments for me, and I think about this a lot now, whenever I wonder about my ego or I’m nervous about a situation because I’m afraid of what somebody might think, I think about this time when I was in college. It was Christmas break. I went home to Arkansas and my grandfather, while I was home for Christmas break, had a heart attack. My grandfather was the only male figure in my life that I looked up to and he was sort of the rock of the family. But he had this heart attack and I only had so many days for Christmas break at home before I had to go back to college.

So he had this heart attack, he was in the hospital and I just had this idea that there’s no way this man can die because he’s the rock of the family. So I remember going to the hospital and he was laying there in this hospital bed, hooked up to the EKG or the heart rate monitor machine or whatever. And he was unconscious. And I remember I just stood there. I was too afraid to grab his hand or say anything. I just stood there unable to do anything. And I don’t know if it was fear or there are other people around. I thought I was worried about what they might think. But basically I think I let my ego get in the way in that scenario because the reality is I should have just grabbed his hand and told him how much he meant to me. Because after that I went back to college and he died while I was at college a few days later.

So I always think back on that moment, because I had the opportunity to let somebody know before they die what they meant to me. But for some reason, I didn’t do it and I blamed it on the ego and it’s not the right way to live. And it’s something that, even today, I have a hard time putting that aside, even though I’m aware of it. And I think a lot of us do, but it’s important to put your ego aside in order to accomplish bigger things, to have better relationships, to be more transparent, to be more truthful, and to be more authentic.

So I hope when you’re facing a situation, you think about your ego and how your ego might be playing out in that scenario. And you think maybe back to what I said here, and try to think less about your ego and more about what actually matters in that situation. In the big scheme of things it matters less what people think of us, it matters more what we do.

Check Out The Smartest Person in The Room