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Ego master your ego

Master your ego

​Master your ego – there’s a day of the year dedicated to this; Ego Awareness Day. Saturday 11th May is the second ego awareness day, it began in 2018.  Who decides on these days? I went to the website, and it’s a very earnest website, with no individuals credited on there.  In fact, one of the descriptions almost made me feel it was a spoof day.

I’ll be honest, I first started getting interested in days of the year as a bit of a running joke with my brother and sister.  My brother posted on facebook that it was Penguin Awareness Day, not to be confused with World Penguin Day or African Penguin Awareness Day. Amongst other things, I was staggered that there was even such a thing as African penguins, so clearly the awareness day thing works.  Since then, we periodically highlight others that amuse us. 

Ego awareness day

So, ego awareness day.  As a blogger, we learn to connect to these days so we can hashtag them on social media, and I couldn’t let this one pass.  I wondered if there was something in it.

The latest book I reviewed says, among other things, that the biggest obstacle to change in the workplace is the leader.  He’s talking about you.  The leader who wants to make the change, the reader of his book.  His advice? Learn to master your ego.


Aaron Dignan

​Brave New Work

‘Work to master your ego. Work to quiet your voice.  Work to step out of the way.  You must become a paragon of trying new things.  Starting new loops.  Asking big questions.  Don’t stay stuck in the habit of evaluating and judging the work of others.  Go find something to do.

‘Your new job is to ensure that the conditions for change are in place, not just now but in perpetuity. While you won’t be doing as much “leading” in the traditional sense, you’ll be doing something far more rewarding. You’ll be creating and holding space for change.’


Not sure if that’s an accurate version of the quote, I had to rely on Google, and there are a few variations.  But you get the idea.  And if it’s good enough for Einstein, I’m pretty sure it’s good enough for the rest of us.

Setting aside the earnestness of the ego awareness website then, and the idea that there should be a world ego awareness day, is there merit in the idea of mastering the ego?

Well, yes.  If you view it as a reflection that none of us are perfect, we all need to continue to learn, develop and grow, then of course we need to master the ego.  I know I’m guilty of believing I’m always right (ask my husband) and it generally takes proof for me to admit I’m wrong.  I also discovered recently how I like to retain control, as I described here.  It’s difficult to let go, and as leaders in the workplace it’s so tempting to think that we know best.

Dignan also says that the old practices of scientific management, embodied by Frederick Taylor, separated the thinking from the doing[2].  And it’s disturbing how much this attitude still prevails, with managers telling their teams what to do, and sometimes even what to think. As autonomy is so important to our motivation, no wonder so many people are dissatisfied and disengaged at work.

What can you do to master the ego?  

Well, I won’t pretend I have all the answers. (Despite my tendency to think I’m right)  ​But here’s a few suggestions to get you started.

  • ​Practice mindfulness
  • ​Ask someone for help - admit that you can't do something alone and that you'd like to learn from them
  • ​Listen to feedback from someone you usually don’t. Really listen.  Ask them how your behaviour affects them.  Ask them what could you do differently, and agree to act on one of their suggestions.
  • ​Find something to do.  Try something new. Something you’ve never done before.  I recommend improv, but anything where you’re starting as a beginner is good.
  • ​Read Mindset by Carol Dweck. [3] An open mind and a growth mindset are immensely valuable. You can watch my review of Mindset here.

​Let me know what you think.  Will you work on mastering your ego?  Will you try one of these suggestions?

Links here to the book reviews mentioned

Brave New Work by Aaron Dignan

Mindset by Carol Dweck

About the Author Lindsay Milner

Lindsay is the owner of Silvern Training. Before that she had a very varied working life, doing everything from admin, volunteering, sales, teaching, training, fundraising, management and chairing a board of charity trustees. Now wants to change the world of work by improving workplace cultures so that people can look forward to Monday mornings. Also likes to support individuals to speak up, be better listeners and to take action.

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