Toolkit to Manage Time
“Ego is just like dust in the eyes. Without clearing the dust, we can’t see anything clearly, so clear the ego and see the world.” Anonymous
I remember a story I had read long time back in the book Creativity – unleashing the forces within by Osho.
Once there was a great sculptor, a painter, a great artist. His art was so perfect that when he would make a statue of a man, it was difficult to say who was the man and who was the statue. It was so lifelike, so alive, so similar. An astrologer told him that his death is approaching, he was going to die soon. Of course, he became very much afraid and frightened, and as every man wants to avoid death he also wanted to avoid it. He thought about it, meditated, and he found a solution. He made a statue of himself, eleven in number, and when death knocked on his door and the Angel Of Death entered, he stood hidden among his eleven statues. He stopped his breathing.
The Angel Of Death was puzzled, could not believe his own eyes. It had never happened− it was so irregular! God has never been known to create two persons alike; he always creates the unique. He has never believed in any routine, he is not like an assembly line. He is absolutely against carbons, he creates only originals. What has happened? Twelve persons in all, absolutely alike? Now whom to take away? Only one has to be taken. The Angel of Death could not decide. Puzzled, worried, nervous, he went back. He asked God, “What have you done? There are twelve persons exactly alike, and I am supposed to bring only one. How should I choose?”God laughed. He called the Angel of Death close to him, and he uttered the formula in his ear, the key to finding the real among the unreal. He gave him a secret code and told him, “Just go, and utter in that room where the artist is hiding himself among his own statues.”
The Angel Of Death went into the room, looked around and, not addressing anybody in particular, he said,” Sir, everything is perfect except one thing. You have done well, but you have missed One point, there is an error .“
The man completely forgot he was hiding. He jumped, he said, “what error?”
Death laughed. And Death said,” you are caught! This is the only error. You cannot forget yourself. Come on, follow me.”
The maximum books I have read from one author is Ryan Holiday. I recently revisited his book Ego is the Enemy as it helps me remain grounded. Some key ideas from the book:
- Ego prevents you from improving. If you overestimate your talent, you’ll never improve. If you think you have all the answers, you’ll never learn. And so, at this stage, the most important skill you can possess might be this: the ability to accurately assess your own ability. Confidence is founded on hard work, on accurate self-assessment, on actual achievements. Ego is foundationless. In Holiday’s words: “Ego is stolen. Confidence is earned.”Talk less, work more. Talk drains your energy and eats your time and gets you nowhere. Success isn’t the work you’ve done; it’s the work you’re doing.
- Be a perpetual student. The ego is full of self-regard. It’ll tell you that you’re better, that you’re smarter, that you’re already an expert. When you’re aspiring, you can counteract your ego by reminding yourself that there’s always something to learn. If you’ve gained recognition for your work, if you now have some impressive title, it’ll become even harder to stay humble, to resist the self-satisfied words of your ego. Resting on our laurels is a result of our pride.We’re too busy patting ourselves on the back to see that there’s room for improvement, or that we could achieve even greater things.
- Focus on what’s important. What’s important to you? Not to society or your parents or whoever else you think you should impress. But to you. It’s important to figure this out because, if you don’t, your ego will lead you astray. You may begin chasing goals or pursuing positions that, beyond the status they convey, mean little to you – and that’s a recipe for disaster. Maybe you want more time with your family. Or maybe you really do want more money. Both are fine. What’s important is that you know. Pursuing your goal, whatever it is, will require tradeoffs – and ego allows no tradeoffs.
- Keep your ego in check by learning to delegate tasks and trust your team. Ever feel like you can’t give them tasks to do because they just wouldn’t do as good a job as you? These are telling signs that your ego probably needs to be reined in a bit. Try placing trust in other people’s work. You and your team will benefit from it. Fight the temptation to do the work that you should be delegating. That voice in your head, telling you that only you know how to do things correctly? That’s your ego. Resist it.
- Failure: Find out why you failed. If one of your great ideas gets rejected or you don’t get the job you applied for, it’s natural to feel frustrated. After all, our egos tell us that we’re entitled to receive rewards – but the world doesn’t always work in accordance with our plans. Sometimes we don’t get that promotion or close that sure deal, even though we did our best. So how do we confront this? Rather than feeling disappointed, we can start by acknowledging the work we’ve done and recognize that we can’t always control the outcome of that work, or people’s opinions of us. An unexpected result should be welcomed as an opportunity to honestly reflect on our performance. The next time something doesn’t go the way you expect it to – and even when something just so happens to go well, out of sheer luck – take the time to understand why.
Avoid ego, avoid it now, avoid it in the future, avoid it always.
September 11, 2022