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  • Writer's pictureNiki Ernst

How big is your ego? How big shall it be?

I grew up in the eighties. The inspirations of our childhood were not Hans Rosling, Ken Robinson or Simon Sinek — the inspirations of our childhood were people we were equally impressed, inspired and scared of. The Klaus Kinskis, the Nina Hagens, the Qualtingers and many others — these were people who never cared about language, they tagged their egos with “blunt opinion”, honesty, expertise, and intransigence.

Upon actors, you can still find Robert Downey Juniors today, but actually rarely. People who want their audience to listen to the message have lowered their voices. In the past, I often said “we don’t need to work with complicated divas, anymore. There are plenty of talents out there who deliver amazing work a n d know how to behave.

The egoistic gene made us survivors of the fittest. Each of you, who are reading this text, is a current version of a genetic lineage. Thanks to the egoistic survival gene of our ancestors, you and me are here, today. Now we want to get avoid annoying egoistic divas. We want to compromise, consent. Are we saying goodbye to the gene that separated the strong from the weak, the survivor’s gene?

The moment I considered, taking this topic into my weekly gobbledygook to you, I realized that I am tapping a field that can hardly be comprehended in a three-minute reader. I don’t want to be shallow but I am not going to expect 8hrs of your uninterrupted attention, right now. And yet I feel it is not only important to discuss the topic, it is actually ubiquitous. Let’s look into some aspects.

1) compromise. The gentleman’s solution. My definition of a compromise: A solution where each party is equally unhappy. We should not strive for compromises. They make us slow and mediocre. I think we should run for strong opinions, let them go, support them, and if they turn wrong, try to bring as many people as possible into the room — to learn together with them.

2) only fight to win. don’t fight for the sake of the fight. Actually, I have just been in the situation, highly banal. But my ego stood in way for a calm and easy-going process. An easy-going evening out with my wife turned into a night at home, where each of us just tried to make sure, it’s not getting worse. There was nothing to win. I stood up stubborn and stupid. Why am I sharing this private event with you? For one, to let you know that I am my best role model for stupid behavior. You can take it for granted that 100% of my recommendations, thoughts are based on my own meandering experience of wrong decisions. Whenever you are in such a situation, ask yourself two questions: 1) will I be able to remember this situation in 6 months from now? 2) in the very unlikely case, I will: will it still be important for me? Don’t mess up with things when you have to admit to yourself that it’s actually not even important. However, If it is important for you, let everyone know: and you will be surprised how little headwind you will face: people will respect you.

3) stand for a strong opinion and (or) stand strong for your opinion But be ready to change your mind, whenever you understand, it does not make sense anymore. In a world of exponential change, it is highly likely that “true” of today, will be “false” the day after tomorrow. But that does not mean, you weren’t right, “today”

4) listen to others I can strongly recommend reading Heinz von Foersters book, “Wahrheit ist die Erfindung eines Lügners” (“Understanding Systems”). In his book, he basically removes Wahrheit (Truth) from the equation of life. “If you look in the sky and you watch an airplane flying, does not prove that airplanes can fly, it just shows that right now, above you, this airplane is flying.” I can see a strong analogy to the concept of opinions. What you think and say is probably totally true to you (otherwise you would not/should not think or say it), and no one can question that. But bear in mind that there is someone else out there, someone with a very different concept of “true” and equally right from his/her point as you are. Accept it and don’t fight it. It is the only fuel to educate and grow your opinion.

We do need strong personalities, fighters, rebels, edgy people. We need people to be blunt with our society. The soft and gentle path does not lead anywhere. However, treat people around you with respect. Sometimes, a very ugly truth is a much stronger proof of respect than the gentle fashion of silence.

I have strong faith that you, who are reading this, has this lion in your breast,  Be strong. Be sound. Rely on your expertise, stand for your opinion. Stay respectful. Make yourself heard.

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