I know what I bring to the table… So trust me when I say that I am not afraid to eat alone.

I know what I bring to the table… So trust me when I say that I am not afraid to eat alone.

What is the difference between healthy ego and one that is out of control? Certainly we would recognize the extremes of such variables. But most of us fall closer to center, and at that point on the spectrum, determining where healthy ego stops and arrogance begins is more of a fine art.

Is it important to have a healthy ego? I would argue that it is. A healthy sense of oneself facilitates a majority of the kinds of ideas, philosophies, approaches and experiences that I muse about. You may not be fully satisfied with who you are at a specific moment in time (is anyone?) and perhaps you never will be. I think that is a wise place to live… always with plenty of room to improve and a mental to do list of improvements that are coming up on your schedule.

A healthy ego enables one to dig within, summon power that it did not have, and leverage that power to grow in exponential fashion.

Do you think the likes of Thomas Edison, da Vinci, Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Mozart, Beethoven, Marie Currie, Amelia Earhart, Gandhi, Mandella, Jesus, Mohamed, Moses and others had healthy egos? They must have. But it was not an ego that came together in a perfect vacuum. Beethoven’s drunken father beat him when he would come home from a drinking binge, while Leonardo was denied access to any formal education because he was born out of wedlock. Both of them had very ample cause to go through life with low self esteem, while using their disadvantaged youth as a cause to stay in a victim position. By the time Leonardo as a painter, bested his master Verrocchio at age 24, his ego was soaring.

Having a healthy ego is modulated through communication. If you are smart, you never need share it. When you are who you are intending to be, everyone else will awaken to that realization, and stating it is a huge step in learning what not to do or become along the way. Living a life by example, and working daily to embody your personal beliefs in a genuine and convincing approach, facilitates everyone around you to witness through observation and formulate their own opinions. In the course of finding your healthy ego, comes many paths of discovering what it is not. That is a bit of trial and error. There are times to take the credit or the accolades that are truly due you, and many times where deferring them is the much wiser pathway. Understanding how that works in life takes a subtle finesse that is not acquired on day one.  For example, if someone is genuinely praising something that they admire or appreciate about you, you can either agree wholeheartedly with what they just said, or you can respond with something that is warm and appreciative of the compliment, but deferential in your fully accepting the praise. In my humble experience, the latter is a far wiser choice. 

And why is it wiser to be deferential when someone has praised you? I am not sure I have an exact answer to this one. Perhaps it is because people seem to prefer someone who is a bit more humble than “full of themselves.” Let’s face it, it feels wonderful to receive a compliment. I was raised that kind thoughts were meant to be shared. That said, when the compliment is coming in our direction, it has always been my policy to accept appreciatively and then deflect the compliment in subtle ways.

What I have discussed thus far addresses public-facing ego and the part of an ego that propels us as a being from the inside. To the point of today’s aphorism…. So trust me when I say that I am not afraid to eat alone….  This is the part of the discussion that I enjoy. Start with the brilliance of Sun Tzu….. “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

And… “Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”

Being fearless about eating alone means (to me) that you know yourself. You trust yourself. You have given yourself due cause to believe what you believe to be true, to become true. That you have rules that will not be broken. Determination that is indomitable. Tenacity that is incomparable. And a deep enough sense of self to marshal these qualities in a collective whole that gives you a definitive right to feel that way. If you have spent your life kicking ass and not taking names in the course of growing and proving how truly adept you are at accelerating into new territory that is heretofore unconquered, then you have zero cause to feel anything less about yourself. A true healthy ego that stands on the true facts of what and who you have grown to become is not only healthy, it is imperative to being very successful. It is the rocket fuel. It is the reason why YOU ARE NOT AFRAID TO EAT ALONE.

Because you are the real thing. And you not only know it, you own it.

That said, if you are at such a place in your life, or working to such a place. Learn to keep it to yourself, because no one else wants to hear it. Just walk the walk. Don’t talk the talk. No one cares.

Happy Saturday!

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Written by Brian Weiner
When I was 5 years old, I discovered that the lemon tree in the backyard + dixie cups + water and sugar and I was in business. I have been hooked on that ever since. In 1979, I borrowed $14,000 to create a brand new product... photographic greeting cards with no text on the inside, called Paradise Photography. That was the start of The Illusion Factory. Since then, The Illusion Factory has been entrusted by all of the major studios and broadcasters with the advertising and marketing of over $7 billion in filmed, live, broadcast, gaming, AR, VR and regulated gaming forms of entertainment, generating more than $100 Billion in revenue and 265 awards for creativity and technology for our clients. When I took a break from film school at UCLA to move to Hawaii, my mother did not lecture me. Instead, she took 150 of her favorite aphorisms and in her beautiful calligraphy, wrote them artistically throughout a blank journal. That is the origin of the Lessons from the Mountain series. Since then, on my journeys to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise, I have spent countless hours contemplating words of wisdom from the sages of all races, genders and political persuasions, constantly accumulating the thoughts to guide me on my life path. I hope you enjoy my books. Please let me know your thoughts, as I highly value your feedback!