By Bill Harley
When deliberating on any issue with your spouse, kids, neighbors, friends or colleagues, there is an important (and often overlooked) factor that has a major impact on the outcome: the degree to which you can detach your ego from your ideas.
By “ego” I mean the selfish, self-centered aspect of our being that wants what it wants when it wants it. This aspect of our being tends to get triggered when we have adversarial, partisan or ideological contention with others. Your ego feels that the way the other person or the group responds to your ideas is a direct commentary on your value as a person. Consequently, if your idea is accepted, your ego gets puffed up and feels victorious; if your idea is rejected or ignored, your ego feels deflated and defeated. Your ego is always ready and willing to do battle.
On the other hand, your higher nature, your true self, has the capacity to detach your ego from your ideas. Consequently, you then have the capacity to articulate your idea clearly, succinctly and briefly, then hand over the idea to the other person or the group. Whether the idea is accepted, rejected or refashioned by the others does nothing to add or subtract from your sense of self-worth.
When everyone in this process has developed the capacity to separate their egos from their ideas, the group is able to perform at an exceptionally high level to produce transformative ideas, solutions and agreements.
To understand how this works, consider a group of people working together on a jigsaw puzzle (solving a problem). One person picks up a piece of the puzzle (an idea) and tries to connect it to another piece, but it does not fit. Another person watching the first person thinks that piece may fit somewhere else, but when that person reaches for the puzzle piece, the first person won’t let go of it.
When each person at the table stays “attached” to his or her puzzle pieces (ideas), the creativity of the group becomes chained up. So does the capacity of all members to build on each other’s ideas, and the diversity of perspectives. The group performs poorly and relationships suffer in the process.
If each member instead would try to fit a puzzle piece (an idea) to another piece and remain detached from the result, the puzzle pieces would change hands many times, the pieces would get rotated and placed in many new positions, clusters of assembled pieces would be created more quickly and connected to other clusters. The free-flowing diversity of perspectives would allow the group to perform more efficiently and relationships would improve.
Detaching Your Ego from Your Ideas is just one of 12 Behavioral Standards that inform the revolutionary decision-making process called, Compassionate Consultation, which is the deliberation process for the 21stCentury and beyond. For the full story, read our second book entitled, TRANSFORMED: How to Make the Decisions that Change Your Life.