Saturday, June 4, 2016

“Nobody sees anybody truly but all through the flaws of their own egos. That is the way we all see ...each other in life. Vanity, fear, desire, competition-- all such distortions within our own egos-- condition our vision of those in relation to us.” Tennessee Williams

                            How is your EF? 

      Maybe it’s just me, maybe not. I have what I call an “EF:  Ego Filter.” This is a way of hearing what people say to me. The other night at my Toastmaster farewell speech, my evaluator made some comments that resonated with me. I have been thinking about them for the past couple of days wondering why I chose those specific comments to consider. He said something to the effect that “the academic part of your speech was flawless,” and he couldn’t make any suggestions for improvement. But he added that when I truly engaged the audience and had them eating out of the palm of my hand, it was when I let our my “Inner Sandy,” which spoke from the heart—raw, vulnerable and honest. Hmm. The words that stood out in my mind 48 hours later are “flawless” and “vulnerable.” The Ego Filter says to me, “Flawless,” that’s cool. “Vulnerable,” that’s ok, but not anything to brag about, although bragging is a negative trait to me. 

     The fact that “flawless” stands out and makes my little ego bloat up like the Goodyear blimp is not a good thing. It is a haunting reminder of my perfectionism which I have to work to suppress. “Flawless” means perfect, and perfect doesn’t exist. I have even framed it in my mind that striving for perfection is a pathetic, narcissistic endeavor which should carry with it the maximum penalty of emotional flogging. Nonetheless, “flawless” felt good. 

     My evaluator whose job in Toastmasters is to stand up for 2-3 minutes and discuss the good and bad of my speech suggested that I let out my “Inner Sandy,” and that would carry me to the next level of performance which means in TM language “Advanced Club.” Needless to say, I felt somewhat conflicted. Yes, I plan to join an Advanced Club when we move, but this means that my little ego will certainly be challenged by other speakers who have reached this same level, so the competition will increase dramatically. Talk about “vulnerable?” This will be a very humbling experience. That’s ok, as I hear my father’s words whenever I accomplished something really important, “Don’t get cocky now!”

     How is your EF? We all know that some people have huge egos, and others don’t even seem to have one. How can that be? Doesn’t everyone have an ego? Why are some more ego-focused than others? I suppose some would suggest it’s insecurity, immaturity, insensitivity. I get an A in the first two of these. How about you?