Martin Buchheit made his fifth appearance on the Pacey Performance Podcast to talk about EGOals. Early on, host Rob Pacey tapped one of the best quotes in the book from Keir Wenham-Flatt to get George rolling on one of his favorite topics.
Wenham-Flatt said that ego is like fire: it can be used to cook your dinner, but it can also burn down your house. “It’s this very fine balance between yes, it can be a very negative thing. But harnessed properly, it can be a really positive thing,” Pacey said.
George: We have a cultural bias against the self, and against individualism in many ways.
Ego originally meant simply “I.” When you take away a lot fo the connotations that have come around it, it’s about how the self interacts with reality. It’s a simple word that’s taken on a life of its own and has all these package deal connotations.
When you look at how many people, including some best-selling authors, define ego, they build into the definition negative aspects. They say: “The ego is that which distorts reality.” “The ego is that which flatters yourself.” Talk about stacking the deck against a neutral approach! If you define anything in negative terms, of course it’s a bad thing. Of course it’s the enemy.
And I think we do that because we have this bias against the self, against the individual and that one person who stands apart and says “This is what I want for me.”
Pippa Grange says ego is our “I-dentity.” Our “I-dentity” – whether we call it the self, the soul, the spirit, the ego or whatever else – can go in any number of directions. In that sense, ego is this neutral concept and we make it positive or negative the way anything else we make about ourselves is negative or positive.
One of those misconceptions of the ego is confusing ego with self-aggrandizement, which, in a professional setting can come across as a desire to be known rather than the desire to do things worth knowing about.
Very early in his career, Martin devised a fitness test that is now used around the world, in almost every sport at every level of competition. But, by design, that test does not bear his name.
MARTIN: The year 2000, I’m Mr. Nobody. I’m really Mr. Nobody. I believe that I have a good idea around this test, and there’s a few mentors around me telling me that I should keep working on it because I was on to something. But I never thought about putting my name on it.
At the start I had it in French as the “shuttle intermittent test,” but in French the initials were a bit dodgy so I didn’t know how to name it. Then a good friend of mine – who participated in the book – started to use the test which was great because it was helping me to disseminate it. He started to call it the “Buchheit test.” And I said, “No, no, no, no, no. There’s something wrong with that! That’s not me.”
Then I said “OK, it’s 30:15. It’s intermittent, it’s about fitness. So we call it the 30:15 Intermittent Fitness Test.” I made this name to ensure it would not carry mine. And besides, no one would be able to write the name or pronounce it properly. 30:15 works in every language!
Social media has made the quest for professional status as much of a full-time job for some practitioners as the actual job we’re supposed to be doing.
Martin and George had way too much fun writing the faux social media posts that feature in EGOals. Sadly, they had so much material from their peers to draw on that they struggled to create satire that outdid reality.
Martin offered this firebreak for anyone who may be about to commit one of the more common social media ego-fails at work:
The rule is to remind ourselves or to ask ourselves, every time we tweet something, we ask: Is this really necessary? Am I tweeting just a screenshot of the acceptance of my paper, which is completely hopeless to the world? Or do you say “By the way, I have this new paper. Here’s the link, because I want to bring something new to the community?”
Hopefully we at least brought something new to the podcast-sphere on Pacey Performance (and, you know, to the world with this book). Listen to the whole show at the link below or wherever you get your podcasts.