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Good Ego vs. Bad Ego: What to Do When You Get to Big for Your Britches (Episode 13)

Good Ego vs. Bad Ego: What to Do When You Get to Big for Your Britches (Episode 13)


We've spent the past few conversations exploring the our ability to reach beyond our defaults and norms from the perspective of those who struggle to feel good about ourselves, or don't find it easy to trust or bet on ourselves.

However, there exists another extreme at the other end of the spectrum. A word that is hotly debated in terms of its worth, as well as how much an overdose of it can be highly problematic in our lives.

And that word is EGO.

The idea of our ego is highly polarizing. It's hard to hear the word without immediately flinching at an imaginary boardroom supervillain whose ego steamrolls every single person around them ... or those bad first dates where you spend 3 hours listening to someone talk about how amazing they are, without them ever asking you a single question.

⚡ Related: What Is Beyond Your Default? (The Start of the Journey)

But the reality is that our ego is meant to play a critical role for us mere mortals, when it comes to our psychology. It's the "I" lens through which our life experiences are filtered through – it's how we establish our sense of self. It's only when it's unchecked that we can potentially start running amok in our own lives (and, potentially, the lives of others).

So, that's what we're going to tackle in today's episode – the curious case of the good ego vs. the bad ego, how to know when you've gone too far, and what to do when you realize you've grown too big for your britches. George also shares a powerful story involving a motorcycle you won't want to miss. 

Questions We Explore

  • When you hear the word "ego," what first comes to mind? What are the accurate or flawed assumptions we make about the word?

  • Why does this conversation matter so much when it comes to the idea of living beyond your default?

  • What is the difference between good ego and bad ego? When does our ego play a vital role in our psychology?

  • How do you think well-meaning folks end up trapped on the wrong side of the ego spectrum? Even with the best of intentions, it can happen!

  • What value does your ego still hold for you in every day life ... when you're on the right side of the spectrum?

  • How do you bounce back from trips down the wrong side of ego lane?

  • How do you keep yourself in check now when it comes to your ego? Are there certain questions we ask ourselves to keep ourselves centered?


Research + Resources

Videos worth watching

Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

ego-is-the-enemyCheck it out!

Academic definition of "ego"

"...ego, in psychoanalytic theory, that portion of the human personality which is experienced as the “self” or “I” and is in contact with the external world through perception. It is said to be the part that remembers, evaluates, plans, and in other ways is responsive to and acts in the surrounding physical and social world.

According to psychoanalytic theory, the ego coexists with the id (said to be the agency of primitive drives) and superego (considered to be the ethical component of personality) as one of three agencies proposed by Sigmund Freud in description of the dynamics of the human mind."

"Don't prevent vanity; vent it"

This was a controversial piece during our conversation, and you can expect this from time to time. We believe it's important to share diverging viewpoints, so that we can share our honest opinions and showcase alternative perspectives you may find enlightening or thought-provoking.

"A pervasive psychological and spiritual assumption holds that ego is a problem we must overcome. Transcend ego. Become selfless, or as the Buddhists say, drop your ego. You can hear its influence in the way people get defensive when accused of being egotistical, as though that means they’re somehow deficient souls, shallow, even evil.

Couple this cultural norm with the growing concern that social media is making egomaniacs out of us with our virtue signaling, selfies, and our endless quest for likes. A lot of hand-wringing these days about vanity as though egotism is bad. Just say no to ego. I think trying to purge ego is a fool’s errand. To some degree or other, we all have our vanity, even delusions of grandeur. No one is selfless and it's absurd to pretend we could be."

"The pressing need to quiet our egos"

"In recent years, Heidi Wayment and her colleagues have been developing a 'quiet ego' research program grounded in Buddhist philosophy and humanistic psychology ideals, and backed by empirical research in the field of positive psychology. Paradoxically, it turns out that quieting the ego is so much more effective in cultivating well-being, growth, health, productivity, and a healthy, productive self-esteem, than focusing so loudly on self-enhancement.

To be clear, a quiet ego is not the same thing as a silent ego. Squashing the ego so much that it loses its identity entirely does not do yourself or the world any favors. Instead, the quiet ego perspective emphasizes balance and integration. As Wayment and colleagues put it, 'The volume of the ego is turned down so that it might listen to others as well as the self in an effort to approach life more humanely and compassionately.'"

[00:00:00] George B. Thomas: Being able to show up in a selfless way again, not to beat that drum. And it's funny because you talked about pride and being proud. And I've got to be honest with you. There's this thing of like pride is that you're shouting it about yourself, but you can be proud when others are saying it, what I mean, Luke 14, 11.

is a scripture that's a very interesting scripture says for everyone who exalts himself or herself, but the Bible says for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled. I exalted myself at faith ranch. I got humbled with my motorcycle accident, but it goes on to say in he who humbles himself or herself and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

You can be proud. Of the seeds you're sowing. You can be proud of the crop you're growing. You can be proud of the growth of those around you in your own growth. But here's the thing. I think that much of this is a delicate balance of keeping that ego what it should be.

[00:01:11] Liz Moorehead: Welcome back to Beyond Your Default. I am Liz Moorhead. And as always, I'm joined by the one and only George B. Thomas. One of my favorite questions to always start with is how the heck are you? How was your 

[00:01:22] George B. Thomas: weekend? Uh, my weekend was great. I got to fly back home from Boston because I was at the B2B forum, calling bingo and speaking on stages and hanging out with humans, which I always love hanging out with humans.

And I got to go to a Luke Bryan concert, which again, hanging out with humans and listening to music. And I know today is going to be a good day because Liz, I am literally drinking from my Serenity coffee mug. So it's going to be a good day. I'm not drinking from 

[00:01:53] Liz Moorehead: a serenity mug. I am drinking from the district co working space's finest polar premium seltzer.

Not sponsored, but hey, polar, if you like what you're hearing, we're always welcome to talk. I am excited about today's conversation because. Okay. We've spent the past few episodes exploring our ability to reach beyond our defaults, right? Which not a surprise. The title of the podcast is beyond your default, but we've been doing so from the perspective of those who struggle to feel good, whether that's good about ourselves or overcoming fear or not finding it easy to trust and bet on ourselves.

However, there exists another extreme at the other end of the spectrum, and it is usually labeled with a word that is hotly debated in terms of its worth, as well as how much of an overdose can be highly problematic in our lives. And that's, of course, assuming we're all agreeing on what the definition of this term is.

And that word is ego. And the idea of our ego is highly polarizing, right? It's hard to hear the word without immediately flinching at some sort of imaginary boardroom supervillain whose ego steamrolls every single person around him or those bad first dates. I once went on a first date where I've never learned so much about high school lacrosse.

I never want to know that much about high school lacrosse ever again. But the reality is, our ego is meant to play a critical role for us mere mortals when it comes to our psychology. In psychology, it is the quote unquote I lens, me, through which our life experiences are filtered through. It's how we establish our sense of self, and it's only when it becomes unchecked that we can potentially start running amok in our own lives and, sometimes, in the lives of others.

So, thanks! What we're going to be tackling in today's episode, the curious case of the good ego versus the bad ego, and how to know when you've gone too far. And my favorite way of the way you phrased it. So I had to put it in here, George, when we were prepping for this. What do you do when you realize you've grown too big for your own 

[00:04:03] George B. Thomas: britches?

I've been there, right? Here's the thing. It's funny because when we were prepping for this, and when I started doing research for this episode, I had a very interesting thing happen. Very much like when we did the Healthy Hustle, and I was like, I started to think about words and what words we use versus what they mean.

And I even started to ask myself, like, if we're going to talk about this, what the heck is ego anyway? Like, am I using the wrong word or have I been using the wrong words for 30 some years when this thing happened in my life that made me dramatically pay attention to this? And I went back and kind of what you said, I looked at the definition of the word ego.

It literally is a person's sense of self esteem. Or self importance and I was like, well, that sounds positive. Like, why is that or should it be a negative? Why do we talk about ego in negative way? And so then I was like, okay, I mean, let me dig a little bit deeper. Then I started to read things and listen to things about how like ego is our thinking brain, it tells us what's good, what's bad, even what we like.

It uses our life story, our experiences to construct. To create a construct that word is going to come up a couple of times probably in here of who we think we are, it's the mind made identity. Okay. We're still not in a bad place. However, when I got to the words mind made identity, I believe we're more than that.

And I was like, okay, wait a minute. Like, well, what I'm fighting here. So then I started to think, well, where does this go wrong? Here's the thing. Okay. We started to gain an ego, the word that we're talking about, around the ages of three or four because we were trying to figure out what the world is, who we are in the world, how do we navigate these things.

Where it goes fundamentally wrong is many of us have never worked on the construct that our brain built at three to four years old. Even worse, we have let layers of crap over the years funnel into that construct and define us even more from this like infant style and now let's layer this or, or some of us have hung on to praise and become very, very self important.

I am the center of my own universe. Like, we've all met that human. Probably Mr. Lacrosse, by the way, was very self important, if I tie this back. So what's interesting is where my brain goes with this is an ego that clings is an ego that could lead to depression or Being an egomaniac and it's funny because I think when I let myself dive into this I think of success and failure right ego is the mind's tool When we have success and we go ego one way, we're like, oh I'm successful which means I can be successful at anything which is Not truth.

It's falsality. We can't be successful at everything because we've been successful at one thing. And then on the failure side, we use ego as an escape goat. Like it's, oh, well, you know, couldn't be me. And so, Liz, what I really want to get to as we dive in here is that I fundamentally now believe There's a difference between ego and being egotistical.

Egotistical is excessively, uh, conceited or absorbed in oneself, self centered, bloated self esteem, which equals, by the way, a hollow life, which I feel like that's where I was in life at one point in time, where, sure, I had this ego, I had this construct, I had gone through these things, I had these layers of crap in life.

That had pointed to a thing and then all of a sudden things started to change and that construct didn't know how to continue to survive in a place that was different and all of a sudden my ego went right through the roof and when I think about living a life beyond your default, I think about how powerful this portion of the word will show up many times.

I think in this episode. This portion of being humble. So when we think about ego in this construct and egotistical and the word humble, which is very important to my life, it's hard to be humble. If your ego, if your construct about yourself is out of line, out of whack. Here's the thing that really bent my mind when I was diving down into this is that many of us think that we are the thoughts.

That make our ego, but when we start to get to this life of living beyond your default, and we start to dive into these words, like ego, egotistical, and we start to bend belief and bend self, I think that we have to realize that we're not these thoughts. We are the awareness. Of these thoughts, we are a higher intelligence that can make choices and tap into what we truly are versus the construct that we might have built back when we are three or four and the layers that have been added on.

I mean, to 

[00:09:21] Liz Moorehead: be perfectly honest, I probably shouldn't be trusted to rely on anything I developed at 3 or 4 years old because I was still testing the vast majority of the world through my mouth. Can I bite this? Can I eat this? Can I balance on this? The fact that that kind of thing is developed at such a young age is quite telling.

And the other thing I find fascinating about this whole conversation is like, let's even go back to how we were originally constructing this episode. When we were originally batting this topic back and forth, the initial pitch was completely through the negative lens. What happens when your ego makes you too big for your britches?

And then we both had to sit there and go, well, wait a minute. the ego in its purest form actually bad. That's what I find interesting about this whole conversation. When you gave that definition, And you said, that doesn't sound like a bad thing. It's, well, of course not. It's like cake. Cake is good in moderation.

Carrots are good in moderation. I'm using cake and carrots intentionally because people are like, well, you can eat as many carrots as you want. Actually, no, you can't. It's bad for your system. You will overload. And I think you turn actually orange or yellow if you eat too many of them. Anything to an extreme degree creates a big problem.

But before we dig too deeply into this, George, I'd love to hear from you. Why is the conversation we're having today so important to this notion of living beyond your 

[00:10:46] George B. Thomas: defaults? It's interesting because I feel like there's a couple of things that come to mind and that is that when we, when we think about this word ego, I feel like it falls right in the middle of 2 other words that we should be talking about and there are 2 words that are closely associated with ego or the potential becoming egotistical.

And those 2 words are pride and humility. I do feel like ego is kind of in the middle of there, and you can go one way or the other. In my mind, I literally can see the three words, and ego in the middle, and me kind of straddling, or the listener straddling, and at least then having somewhat of a compass.

I don't think, honestly, Liz, that many times... We actually stopped long enough to think about ego or the idea that our brain creates a construct or that it's many times we've talked about updating your software, maybe about how do you update your hardware, the construct, right? The actual box that you're containing this stuff in.

And so why is this kind of important? There's a book that I'm gonna lean into. Well, there's two books, actually. There's one by Ryan Holiday. It's called Ego is the Enemy. It's a fantastic book. I'm gonna go back on, like, looking at this from the negative direction because trying to stay away from it, because we'll get there.

He believes, and I have to agree or else I wouldn't be bringing it up on the podcast. He believes that ego sabotages us from long term goals and distracts us from mastery. Ladies and gentlemen, if you're trying to live a life beyond the default, you're probably going to have goals and you're probably going to be chasing mastery.

Because mastery, once you I don't want to say a ride, but once you're on the track of being a master and then leveling up your mastery in that thing is where a lot of the magic starts to happen. This is not a professional podcast, but if I look at my life, it was 10 years of becoming mastery or creating mastery around HubSpot, marketing, sales, communication that has gotten us to where we're at today.

But that's because I kept ego at bay. Hey, I'm a poet and didn't know it just right there in that line. You can rewind and listen again anyway. So here's the thing I want to envision humility and pride, and I want to be able to lean into the humility side. I mentioned two books. One ego is the enemy by Ryan holiday.

The second one is just simply the Bible, ladies and gentlemen, believer or not. I at least have to say Proverbs 11 to when pride comes, then comes disgrace. But with humility comes wisdom. I would much rather over index on being humble and wise than a disgrace and egotistical or an egomaniac. So if you think about this like ego being the enemy and going in a level of humility and wisdom, ego can be or being egotistical can be an unhealthy belief in one's own importance.

There's a couple things that I do based on some things that happen in my life, and that's one, I don't take myself too seriously. Like, I just don't mind being a goofball. I don't always have to be right. Ego takes things like concern. This is, again, right out of the book, Ego is the Enemy. Ego takes things like concern and turns it into obsession.

Ego takes confidence and turns it into arrogance. And again, I'm leaning into that. Not necessarily the ego that is the construct, but ego. That is the term that I think we've miscommunicated. That might be the egotistical egomaniac, like the dark side, bad side of ego versus the good side that you kind of lean into.

So. That are just kind of some thoughts why it's important to this journey that people are on trying to be on your default is like, there are some major mindsets that this one kind of compass center point can affect or fluctuate the direction that you're going to go in your life. I want 

[00:15:05] Liz Moorehead: to throw something out there though, because I agree with you, right?

We have pride versus humility. And this starts dipping into some of the conversation you and I wanted to have today, right? Like what is good ego versus bad ego? Ego is kind of like a vehicle, right? You can hop in your vehicle and go to Pridesville or humility town. The choice is yours. However, there is something to be said because I'm a word nerd.

Are you saying I can't have pride about things that I do, but I can't feel proud of myself when I do things? What's that distinction for you? What's that 

[00:15:36] George B. Thomas: line for you? Well, there's a difference between being proud and pride. Like, they sound like they're the same words, but they're not. Pride is like an elevated, unhealthy, potentially corrosive to those around you.

It can be a turnoff. When I think about this, right, I did something. That I'm proud of. I go tell a hundred people, it kind of turned into pride. And when I say I tell a hundred people, I don't mean I'm telling like a dope story from stage. I mean, I'm like a, Look at me! I'm the guy! Like, that kind of thing.

And so, I also think when I think about the word pride, and I think why the Bible talks about, you know, pride comes before the fall, is that you've now put your blinders on. You have lost all social awareness. You've lost being able to see the direction that you're heading and probably, potentially dragging others into.

When I do something good, I'm allowed to be proud of that. I'm proud of myself for being the person who did that. I'm proud of, you know, those who actually maybe made the change based on things that happened. I'm just proud of the situation in general that something or someone believed in me enough. To know that we could get the job done, and you can take that as worldly or as spiritually as you want.

That last statement that I just made, how do you think, 

[00:17:05] Liz Moorehead: well-meaning folks end up on trapped on the wrong side of the 

[00:17:08] George B. Thomas: ego spectrum. Well, first of all, you're not checking it. Second of all, you're not thinking about it. I mean, how do you do 

[00:17:15] Liz Moorehead: that though? Do you ask yourself specific questions? Is there like a.

At 9 a. m. every day, I look in the mirror so I checketh myself before I wrecketh myself. 

[00:17:23] George B. Thomas: I didn't used to. What are we doing here? I didn't used to. But there was a point in life where I started to have to, if that makes sense. First of all, I'm very happy that if you meet me today. I would be okay with you meeting me today.

And I'm literally talking to all of the listeners or viewers that watch this, because I've had the opportunity to do a lot of work. One, but two, I've been given a life where let's just say God knows who I am. And God realized that occasionally he might have to break me to get me where I needed to go.

And so let me just kind of tell this story. So, there was a time where I believed that I would never amount to anything. Thanks, math teacher. There was a time that I thought I knew what I was going to do in life, and that was join the Navy and stay in the Navy for life and retire. But I ended up in a medical honorable discharge because I had these things called hives and I almost died and we've told this story and you can go back to that episode.

But, then I ended up at Faith Ranch. After being homeless, by the way, I ended up at Faith Ranch. And this really weird thing happened from believing that I couldn't amount to anything and believing that my future dreams had been squashed, to all of a sudden I realized that I could learn and do pretty much anything that I wanted to learn and do, meaning I became a Western and English horseback riding instructor.

I became a rappelling instructor, an archery instructor, a certified lifeguard. I was doing all these things at this camp for three years of my life. I learned how to play the guitar. We would sing campfire songs. I was a camp counselor. I had been there more summers than probably several people. Like, had become, as dumb as this sounds, the upper echelon.

Of a Christian camp and my head got inflated. I mean, big, because going from, you're never going to amount to anything to like, man, I am the ultimate guy. And here's the thing back in that day, like I wasn't even George because that wasn't cool enough. Actually, there were three Georges that worked there, but people called me Gio.

So Gio is this alternate guy who's very egotistical. And so in my brain, I'm always trying to keep Gio at bay and make sure that I'm living life as George. I have never told that part of this anyway. So what I want to continue on is there came an opportunity where this motorcycle was for sale, and I said to the camp counselor, I'm going to buy that motorcycle.

I want to have that motorcycle. He said, that's not a good idea. I didn't listen to the words of the wise because I was very filled with pride and I wanted to be the cool guy and the cool guy in the movies rides the motorcycle. So I'm going to get the motorcycle. I buy the motorcycle. I've got it maybe for a couple weeks.

We decide as a couple group of friends of mine to go into town to do it. Ohio. We're going to shoot some basketball hoops and get there. We shoot hoops. We're on our way back. And I'm kind of showing off. I'm going probably about. 80 in a 55 and all of a sudden the smallest of things is crawling across the road and it's a possum and to this day, by the way, I still hate possums, but there's a possum crossing the road to which I have to try to dip out.

So I don't hit the possum and dip back in going 80 miles an hour. Well, my front tire goes off the asphalt, hits the gravel. I remember trying to like lean off because I knew that this was not going to end well. You could see six indentions. In the bank where my bike had done flips, they found my gas tank 150 yards on the other side of the road.

I stood up, I was wearing a helmet, full face helmet, a leather jacket, a pair of shorts. I stood up and I realized there was dirt all over my face mask and I couldn't get my helmet off. And I didn't know why when my friends pull up and I'm like, get my helmet off, get my helmet off. I'm standing up at this time, by the way.

And they're like, we can't take your helmet off. You might have a neck injury. I'm like, I wouldn't be standing up if I had a neck injury, get this helmet off me. I was very claustrophobic. Like, cause I couldn't see. So they get the helmet off. First responder comes, I sit on the back of his truck, they put like this blanket around me, and I look down and I realize my wrist does not look like most wrists should look.

And I pass out, okay? So now I wake back up and I'm in an ambulance. And there's this lady. She's a larger lady, nice lady, but she's leaning over me, like kind of working on me. And I choose for some reason to ask her to marry me. Which I still do not know why I asked her to marry me, but I passed back out.

Okay. I come to at the hospital just in time to wake up for them to re break my wrist and reset it. And I look over and the camp counselor's name was Bill. Is sitting in a chair quietly, just sitting there watching and immediately like, I'm like, Oh my God, he told me not to get this bike. I know he's going to like, yell at me.

I know that like, I did wrong. And like, I'm just working up in my brain. All of these conversations that were going to happen. None of them happened. He was loving, he was kind, he was there to pick me up and take me back to the camp where, in his mind, he knew I belonged. I wake up like, it's like two days later.

Long story short, I've got a dislocated shoulder. Left side. I've got a broken right wrist. I've got stitches in my knee because I was wearing shorts and we have new camp counters and new folks coming for the new summer. That's about to happen. And we're doing training and I realized that. I've got to use the bathroom.

So I get up and I go to use the bathroom and I'm done and I realized that with a dislocated shoulder and a broken wrist, I can't pull my pants up. Now. It's funny now. Kind of when I think back on it, but I had to yell out. I was yelling, help. Can somebody help me? And this guy, I'll never forget his name.

Chuck. Chuck came. I said, dude, I can't pull up my pants. And he pulled up my pants for me. And he said, are you okay? And I said, yeah, I'm okay. And I literally shut the door, sat down on the toilet and I bawled my eyes out because I realized that to get my attention, God literally had to break me. That I had to be at 24 years old, not even able to pull up my own pants because I had let ego and pride win and I had become egotistical and Liz, I literally had my fall, right?

Pride comes before the fall. And so at that point in time, I realized one of my life's mission was to stay humble. And to work out a construct in my brain of somehow being able to not get a big head, not be filled with helium to keep my feet on the ground. And like I said earlier, to keep geo at bay and just be George, just be, I'm just a guy.

I'm just a guy, which was a great tool for a lot of years, but it also brought up some things that needed to be tweaked along the way. But the moral of the story is, listen, I could easily say that's not important in my life. And I would fundamentally be somebody else doing something else. And definitely I can tell you right now, not being a guy who would be living a life beyond his default.

You know, you 

[00:25:07] Liz Moorehead: brought up a couple of things there that are worth noting, and I know you rushed through that toward the end, which is, you know, it brought up a couple of quirks along the way when you overdosed on the humility piece, but again, it comes back to what we were saying at the start of this, right?

Anything in extremes, anything in over moderation, it's about balance. It's about balancing the things you are proud of within yourself, as well as that humility piece. What is interesting to me is that in preparation for this, you and I did quite a bit of research on the different ways in which people talk about and think about ego, and I know that there was one in particular that you You had some thoughts about it.

And so I want to take a moment to have this conversation. As people have overreacted to this concept of ego, right? Kill the ego. Set it on fire. Any sort of ego in any way is a negative. I mean, I've read that book by Ryan Halliday. Even the book's title, Ego is the Enemy. It is an absolute construct. It is an absolute idea.

But we have this other scholarship of thought that talks about, do we actually need to completely silence our egos? There was this one piece, the one I mentioned, where it says, I think trying to purge the ego is a fool's errand to some degree or other. We all have our vanity, even delusions of grandeur.

No one is selfless, and it's absurd to pretend we could be. What were your thoughts 

[00:26:33] George B. Thomas: on that? I mean, to be honest, I kind of felt like it was a pile of horse dung. Like, one of the things, like, well, let me back up. Not all of it is a pile of horse dung. One of the things that I disagree with. A lot in life is absolutes.

I think we, and I said at the beginning, we're more powerful than that, right? I literally said it's the mind made identity, but I believe that we're more than that. We're more powerful than that. And this idea of it being a fool's errand to silence ego, which by the way, there's a difference between quieting it and killing it.

I have not ever killed my ego. Like I haven't said death to ego, but I've silenced it to the point where I didn't become an egomaniac or I wasn't egotistical and when it does rear its ugly head, I'm quick to beat it right back down to where it belongs. So I've seen in my own life that we do have the power to do that.

And then here's the thing, like, I'm all about not being selfish. I'm all about wishing more humans would focus on the others around them than themselves. And not in an unhealthy way, because you have, again, there's probably multiple episodes about self belief, self awareness, self love. And we've talked about, like, loving yourself and the relationship with you.

I'm not saying in a negative way. I'm just saying so many times we get wrapped up in our own little bubble, our own little universe, become our own little God with a little G, and it's just not where we're supposed to be. And again, like going back to another question that you asked me earlier this week, why do I do some of the things that I do when everything in the world tells me that I don't have to do those things?

I don't care what the world tells me. I'm supposed to be with the people. The only way that I'm going to be able to impact, heal, show, is to be there, like, I can't be in my little, you know, your awesome tower, hanging out with myself, you know, me, myself, and I, my, my two buddies, like. It's just not what's supposed to be.

So I was reading that and I'm like, man, you are really portraying a set of hurdles that directly impact anybody that I would talk to about trying to live a life beyond their default because they're going to kind of believe in this worldly construct. This worldly belief instead of the way that I believe it can be for everybody.

[00:29:17] Liz Moorehead: The other thing I thought about when reading that, and I'll link this article in the show notes, because one of the reasons why I wanted to share this is that ego is a topic that has immense amounts of scholarship. And undoubtedly there will be people listening to this who are like, I don't know, maybe that's something I believe.

It's called Don't Prevent Vanity, Vent It. What I found interesting about it is that it embodied something where on the one hand at a high level I understood the spirit of what it was trying to convey and I agreed with some parts of it But I also felt it was deeply cynical 

[00:29:49] George B. Thomas: which by the way, I think you just put a pin in why I didn't like it Because this conversation and the importance of it and where it lies in our brain and how it impacts who we are is not a place for cynicism.

Like, by the way, I questioned myself, who am I to be talking about this topic? I am not a psychologist, a psychiatrist. I haven't gone to school to like be able to spit all of these smart dope things out. I'm just a guy who am I? And you know, what came to my mind and I'll tell you. Some weird things have been happening in my life ever since I listened slash read the book God Talks.

Anyway, you guys can look it up. God Talks, it's amazing. But I was like, who am I? I asked the question. And literally, the guy I built for this, the guy I built for this, the words, you'll be able to simplify it. People will understand it. And so cynicism and being cynical in a conversation around what I would call a major framework block To who we are as humans and how we believe about ourself and the world around us.

I think that's why I just had a bad taste in my mouth when I was reading that article. Well, that was the 

[00:31:11] Liz Moorehead: thing. It struck me when it said no one is selfless and it's absurd to pretend we could be. Look, I understand that if you were to boil down every single action that somebody takes, even the most selfless, one could find an argument to it not being quote unquote selfless.

But I have in a world right now where it is very easy to be all consumed by the negativity and the true tragic acts that are occurring, I am also seeing acts of beautiful humanity. And this is a conversation for a different day, but that is where I think we have to be very careful when you're thinking about your own ego and the role it plays and how you extend yourself beyond your default.

You know, there's a difference between realism and cynicism, and I think sometimes cynicism can have the polish of being a little bit sexier, a little bit more punchy, a little bit more clickbaity, but I'd like to think the human experience does not have to be imbued with a sense of cynicism in order to be realistic.

So, George, leading off of this and why I wanted to go down this road is because I want to understand from your simplifying the complex perspective, what does the value your ego still holds? What does it hold for you in everyday life? We've talked a bit about the fact that you, you know, check yourself and you check in with yourself periodically about it, but 

[00:32:33] George B. Thomas: how does it feel?

Yeah. So here's what I'll say. It helps me in my everyday life with belief in myself because I'm creating a healthy construct. And here's where the crazy thing is. I've had to rebuild this construct more in the last year and a half than I've ever had to in my life, because it needs updated on a weekly, if not a monthly basis of what's happening and where we're at and what conversations I'm having.

Like the fact that I was at an event this past week. Knowing internally that I wanted to publish a book and having somebody who is very revered in our space say, when you're ready, bring it to me, we've started a business to do this. I was like, God is in the house, ladies and gentlemen, because things are just happening.

When those things happen, you have to rebuild your construct, your beliefs, what happening. So my belief in myself, it helps me with this lens of self awareness. Just the ability to even understand that I can update or rebuild that construct. I talked earlier about updating the software, but this is like the firmware, or maybe it's the hardware.

I don't know what it is, but it's a piece. It's like when you get a new tower and you put a new motherboard in, this is the box that holds like all the wires that are firing inside the brain and making things happen. And so. One of the other things, though, I have to say is that it helps me in not becoming prideful.

It helps me in not becoming egotistical. It helps me in being able to show up in a selfless way. Again, not to beat that drum. And it's funny, Liz, because you talked about pride. And being proud, and I've got to be honest with you, there's this thing of like, pride is that you're shouting it about yourself, but you can be proud when others are saying it.

What I mean, Luke 14, 11 is a scripture that's a very interesting scripture says for everyone who exalts himself or herself, but the Bible says for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled. I exalted myself at Faith Ranch. I got humbled with my motorcycle accident. But it goes on to say, in he who humbles himself, or herself, in he who humbles himself will be exalted.

You can be proud of the seeds you're sowing. You can be proud of the crop you're growing. You can be proud of the growth of those around you in your own growth. But here's the thing. I think that much of this is a delicate balance of keeping that ego, what it should be understanding what it is building it to what it needs to be.

And if you're not just on a daily, weekly, monthly, at least God, once a year, stopping and thinking about what that is in your brain, Amen. And what it triggers, or keeps you, or allows you to do, then that's a great first step. Like, if you listen to this episode, and you're like, I've never really thought about my ego, and definitely, if I did, it was like, You da man.

No. Listen to the episode again and realize, like, it can be your lens to yourself and others. It is a construct that you can build and rebuild and manufacture into what you need it to be. And it is such a foundational piece in between pride and humility and vanity and all of these things that we've talked about.

That it deserves the weight. It deserves the time to be putting your mind towards it. How 

[00:36:18] Liz Moorehead: do you bounce back from trips down the wrong side of ego lane? 

[00:36:22] George B. Thomas: Yeah. How do I keep myself in check? Uh, give myself the forearm, pow, off the top rope. No, think about it though, 

[00:36:29] Liz Moorehead: because we've been talking about this, right?

We've been talking about it as more of a proactive and preventative measure. Yeah. But we are all only human. To err is divine. To make mistakes is how you grow. You know, there are so many different little mottos and ways of saying it. You know, think about it in the entrepreneurial spaces that you and I function in.

You know, if you're not failing, what are you doing? There is some element of failure that I think comes along with this. So, how do you bounce back? 

[00:37:02] George B. Thomas: First of all, I'm always on the lookout for, and I'll use the word, inflation of my own thoughts. Am I making things more grandiose than they should be? And that's one side of it, right?

It's very easy, by the way, to step off stage and have the handshakes, the fist bumps, the hugs. It's very easy to get emails in your inbox saying how much you're doing and how much people love you. It's very easy to, like, let that inflate your brain. I'm always paying attention to, like, am I making it more?

Am I inflating my own dots? I've gotten really good at this because I don't want to be broken again, by the way. It happened once. I don't need it to happen again. I'm always kind of just putting myself in check. When good things happen, I transport myself to my motorcycle accent. Now, I take time to accept the good in my life and more now.

Back in the day, it was like, just hammer it. Like, motorcycle accent. Broke. Knock it off. I take time to accept the good in my life, but I make sure to deflate the helium that is being injected in my head so that I can keep my feet on the ground. And there's a big piece there that I want everybody to kind of hear is like this idea of keeping yourself grounded.

Rooted in what's important built on foundations and principles that have lasted that are timeless like these are things like you have to understand your own values and the priority of those values and then be able to keep the injections that are happening opportunities that show up you have to keep them filed in the right order and in the right way that they deserve.

Again, at the beginning, I talked about like these layers of crap, or like these layers of amazingness that just inject your brain into a place where it doesn't belong, it takes your ego out of being the tool that it's meant to be, and it becomes a detriment to who you are or what you can do in the planet.

That's where I try to keep my brain, and almost over and over again, like, at almost every interaction point, or every third or fourth interaction point, I'll start to, like, deflate, check thoughts. I'm just a guy, I'm just a guy, that's where I go. 

[00:39:24] Liz Moorehead: You know, what I find interesting about that too is that my mind went in a couple of different directions.

I read something recently that had a found impact on me. There's a version of you from your past that would kill to be where you are. And we've talked about it on this show a few times, I've alluded to it, but this year I've had my own tests. I've had those moments where I felt extremely broken. I've had those moments where I'm just sitting there like, how do I even bounce back from this?

Is it even possible? And I saw that. And I said, Oh my gosh, there's this little girl who was 19 who had moved out on her own couch surfing. Didn't really have a place to call her own for a little while there who would not even believe that I own my own business. Like is my life perfect right now? No, we're doing some rebuilding.

It's a new era. And this is where I think being proud is important because if we get into that self flagellation cycle too much, we will always act as if we are living a life. To live a life, one must be always in a state of penance. One must always be in a state of, I am not allowed to feel good about the life that I'm living.

On the flip side of that, I think the other thing that is so important is that forgiveness piece. Like at some point, we just have to say, hey, I'm a human, I humaned, and if you humaned all over other people, you just got to accept it. Like, we will get stuck and act as if we do not have permission to grow, that there is this invisible scorecard being kept somewhere of all of the different transgressions and things that we think we may have done wrong throughout our lives or things we actually did wrong.

But if we're making the effort to get up the next day to actually try and learn from it and, you know, apologize where necessary, at some point, the only one who's really not forgiving you is yourself. Now, I don't want to go too far down this rabbit hole because we may or may not be having this conversation in the very near future, but I think it is something like forgiveness is a key element.

I mean, we've talked about forgiveness in a couple of episodes as well. Like we need to be able to do that with ourselves. 

[00:41:33] George B. Thomas: I don't want to go too far down this either, because I know I'll fall down a long pit of conversation. I do believe forgiveness is its own episode. And I think that it's literally forgiveness of yourself, forgiveness of others.

Like, there's a whole bunch to unpack. Even the reasons why. Anyway, I'm going to stop right there before I fall into the pit. Because yes, we should definitely talk about forgiveness in the future. Why don't 

[00:41:59] Liz Moorehead: we leave our listeners today with some really good tactical takeaways. I want to hear from you, George, what are the things that you do to keep yourself in check now when it comes to your ego?

Because you've talked about it a bit in the abstract, but I'd love to hear what are those, whether it's daily, weekly, monthly, periodic practices, what are those specific questions you are asking 

[00:42:19] George B. Thomas: yourself? Yeah, I want to give some questions for people to think about because it is, it's what I think about and I'm going to tell you, there's four easy ones and there's four hard ones.

Well, maybe even a fifth hard one. I'm going to give some questions and then I'm also going to lean into a mindset and this mindset comes out of some of the research that we did. So, first of all, if you listen to this podcast episode, which you're listening right now, you did, one of the things that you have to ask yourself is, do you have a system of checks and balances in place when bad things happen and when good things happen and how they should actually impact the construct of your brain that is your ego?

The second thing I'm always trying to figure out is, do I ask for, and am I willing to hear. Feedback about me or about the things I'm doing. And there are many years in my life where I'd be cut off. They're like, I don't give two rips about your opinion. Now I'm very much like, well, what do you think? What are your thoughts?

How am I doing? Is there anything I could do better? And so building this questioning of like, am I gathering enough feedback? It's almost like voice of customer in a professional sense, but it's like voice of humans around you. Here's another one. I'm like, I'm getting real tired of surface level, like surface level conversations.

So do you know people on a personal level, or are they just friends, fans and followers in the social media world? Do you really know them? What their struggles are? What you could help them with? How they think about things that are important in life? If you're sitting at that surface level, is that because your ego, your construct is not built in a way for others, but built in a way for self.

You can answer these questions. These are questions I asked myself. That's how this started, by the way, these are the easy ones. We'll get to the hard ones. We're getting there, but do you know yourself? The only way that I can rebuild my construct is if I truly do know myself. Where I'm gonna fall down, where I'm gonna be able to run.

Do you have systems, checks and balances in place? Are you willing to hear and asking for feedback? Do you know people at a personal level and do you know yourself? Now, let's get to the hard ones. This one's hard, by the way. And I'm not saying any of these that I get right all the time. But if you're willing to ask yourself, how did I contribute to the conflict that I just went through and actually unpack your contribution to the ish show that you may find yourself in, am I considering all of the context?

Meaning why would they say that? Why would they believe that way? Why would I actually engage or interact in that way? Like, what's the context of the conversations or the thing happening in that moment? Can I stop for a moment and see the things through someone else's eyes? Or am I always using my lenses?

Can I transport myself almost out of body into who they are and be like, Oh, yeah, you kind of wore a dick when you said that. I understand maybe why they feel that way. And here's the thing. This one for me has been the most impactful, powerful piece that I've asked myself along the way. Have you arrived, or do you still have room to grow?

Because if you're listening to this and you feel like you've arrived, then you have a closed mindset. And I'm gonna tell you, as you journey down the, or up the mountain more, you have to have room to grow. You have to have an open mindset. You have to be curious. So the last one, it's going to lean into the mindset.

This is a new one for me. After doing this research, I'm going to start to ask myself, where do you land? Where do you land? Let me explain. We've talked about not necessarily building up ego in the fear that it could become egotistical or an egomaniac. We've talked about rebuilding the construct that is ego in your brain.

So one of the things I found fascinating was this idea of ego strength. So, ego strength. I'm just going to give you kind of the research that I read, and this is why the question, where do you land, comes to mind in what I want to do in the future. A strong ego is exhibited in the following characteristics, objectivity in one's apprehension of the external world, and in self knowledge, insight, capacity to organize activities over long time spans, allowing for the maintenance of schedules and plans, and the ability to follow resolves while choosing decisively among alternatives.

The person of strong ego can also resist immediate environmental and social pressure while contemplating and choosing an appropriate course. And strong ego is further characterized in the person who is not overwhelmed by his or her drives, but instead can direct them into useful channels. On the other hand, weakness of ego is characterized by such traits as impulsive or immediate behavior, a sense of inferiority or inferiority complex, a fragile sense of identity, unstable emotionally, and excessive vulnerability.

Perception of reality and self can be distorted. Like one of those fun mirrors in the circuit that they didn't say that, but that's where my mind goes, right? Perception of reality itself can be distorted in such cases, the individual may be less capable of productive work because energy, energy, energy is drained into the protection of unrealistic self concepts.

Or the individual may be burdened by neurotic symptoms. Ego weakness also underlies the inflated sense of self, which can be associated with being grandiose and a superiority complex. So the question that I must ask myself as I move forward in life. Is where do I land the question that I hope the listeners would ask themselves is when it comes to the strength of my ego and the tools that I have and who I can be, where do I land what work out of that answer?

By the way, do we need to do to build a new construct of who we are and what the world actually is around us?