This COVID pandemic has the potential to reveal something fundamental about ourselves, in the context of the profound societal changes of the past year and a half.
But how did it influence you/us – at a personal level, and our society, as a whole?
At a macro level, it casts the light on the Covid crisis and everything that has unfolded from it. The pandemic has exposed how interconnected we all are, and what the implications of this interconnectivity are, and our driving need to be connected. Even if the planes have stopped flying, people have discovered other means of connecting.
The internet has played a very important role… and even if we may now have an overdose of internet, the fact that we did find Zoom and we didn’t just resign to confinement, has revealed something very fundamental about humanity: we can’t really stay disconnected.
We will always find a way to connect with each other, because being part of a group is a fundamental human need. At a personal level, this describes our relationship with society.
Animals who don’t get included in the herd or pack, are marginalized, and die. The reason why Homo Sapiens became the dominant humanoid over other Homo species was their ability to form social connections. Simply put, you fit in, play by the rules or you die!
ID, Super-Ego, & Ego
According to Sigmund Freud, our psyche has 3 elements: the ID (Instinct), the Super-Ego (Morality) and the Ego (Reality).
The ID is the primitive and instinctual part of the mind that contains reproductive and aggressive drives and hidden memories, the Super-Ego is the moral conscience, and the ego is the realistic part that mediates between the desires of the ID and the Super-Ego.
Our Ego is an interface between the instinctual drive of survival of the species (ID) and the need to self-actualize and become the best possible version of ourselves. The Ego is the intermediary, the interface, but also the result of the interplay between the two. We are (Ego) the result of the conflicting needs of the ID and Super Ego.
Who Are You?
The world we live in shapes our identity. We are who we are because we reflect the needs, and the historical context of society. We adapt to fit in to the general society, or find a ‘social’ group we can fit in.
Even if our psyche is internal, this mediation process is not internal, because the ID and the Super Ego are shaped by (our) society. We depend on other people, more specifically, we depend on feedback from the people around us.
If we go overboard, society sanctions us. We get a fine, we get fired, we don’t get invited to social gatherings. If we talk too much about ourselves, without striking a balance in the conversation, our friends start yawning. This feedback from our chosen society helps us adjust our personality so that we “fit in” and are included in society.
Society outcasts, repeated offenders are eventually locked down and get excluded from “society”. They eventually seek inclusion with their inmates in prison or the institutions they are locked in, because belonging to a group is so hard-wired in our being, that we can’t help but seek it.
Of course, if all we do is seek society’s approval, we become sheep. That’s why we have the Ego. It is here to remind us that we are individuals on our own, that we are unique, and that our uniqueness matters. Our uniqueness makes the world a better place, and we have come here for a very specific reason.
On the other hand, society reminds us that our personal talents need to follow certain protocols, to “fit the bill”, to create value, to “make sense” from society’s perspective.
Our Ego invites us to step into our inner light and become a leader, an authority in our own right. Society, on the other hand, ensures that the light we shine is the light the world needs or wants. That is the societal feedback loop. We should never forget the truth of who we are – yet we should listen to, and accept feedback from others.
Warren G. Bennis said it best: “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple, and it is also that difficult”.
Precisely that simple, because you can only be ‘who you are’, or you can only grow into the most authentic you. Also that is difficult, because becoming yourself is a back-and-forth process of adjusting to what the world needs. The PracticalZEN program offers you that opportunity and a community to grow into.
Always Show Up Geoffrey
Geoffrey has coached CEO’s, leaders, architects, engineers, public speakers and entrepreneurs: Here is a small collection of success stories from the different areas of Geoffrey’s background as a coach. Geoffrey has over 25 years coaching experience. He has led teams for 2010 Winter Olympic Bid, CN Financial Division, Shaw, Rocky Mountaineer, Sandwell Engineering, FKP Architects, Telus and Stantec. Geoffrey taught at the Sauder School of Business, Executive Education, at the University of British Columbia.