Would you make decisions that bring you zero benefits? I can almost hear you say: No, I would never do that. But many of us do it all the time. A few days ago I wrote an article regarding gambling titled The Reckless Pursuit of Risk. Gamblers are willing to risk everything–their families, their finances and even their lives–at a whimsical game of chance where the odds are brutally and systematically stacked against them. They were never going to win; let alone win big.
According to Freud, the human personality is composed of three elements: the id, the ego, and the super-ego. The id is what compels people to act on their most basic urges, instincts and impulses. The superego is what strives for idealistic and even fantastical standards of self-perception. And lastly, the ego is the aspect of our personality that strikes a balance between our lower urges, moral ideals, and the varying demands of reality.
A person with a healthy ego would be able to self-manage their basic urges in line with the moral norms of society while striving for more in the process.
In the case of gambling: let’s say, for instance, that you grew up in a culture where gambling was and is a social entertainment activity. You, however, live in a place where gambling is illegal. Somewhere deep down, your id would compel you to act on this urge and gamble. Knowing that you have done something illegal, your superego would pretend that it never gambled. But it is your ego that cautions you not to gamble. It is your ego that whispers and says, “Hey, this isn’t right. Don’t do it.”
If you’ve never heard your ego caution you against things like that, then your ego can’t be very well-developed. You simply don’t have a strong sense of self.
Over the past six months, I have seen and personally encountered many instances where people have behaved in a way that is not in their own self-interest. Why? Their ego is weak.
Please allow me to introduce you to the three lonesome peanuts.
The Lonesome Three
A single mother is running a business that is on the verge of bankruptcy. I brokered ‘the deal’ to get this lady the business advice she desperately needed. I paired her up with a female entrepreneur who has a long track record of success.
The lady on the verge of bankruptcy says a few deeply racist things to the entrepreneur who has been sent to advise her regarding her business. The entrepreneur reprimands her harshly. The lady later apologises and later tries to rebuild the relationship but it is too late.
The entrepreneur no longer wants to have anything to do with this person.
An expat arrives in a new country and is finding it difficult to adjust to life in his new city. I brokered ‘the deal’ to get this gentleman an expert who has over a decade of international experience working and living abroad. The expat is frequently rude to locals and shows a disregard for local customs and cultural norms.
When it is drawn to his attention that he should be the one to adapt to the environment–and not the other way around–he harshly criticises everyone in the local population as well as the expert.
A talented individual is secretly longing for her chance to discover and actualise her latent creativity. I brokered ‘the deal’ to get this individual a friend. That’s it. I brokered a friendship. Nothing more.
I introduced her to an emerging artist who is slowly making strides in their field. The individual in question asked too many barbed questions laced with arsenic. The individual was also cynical and dismissive of my artist friend’s talents.
I don’t have to tell you how that story ended.
Standing on the outside and looking in; none of these scenarios make any sense.
You said racist things to her? Are you nuts?
You told her the locals–her included–were lousy? Are you nuts?
You, the aspiring artist, told an emerging artist that they weren’t good enough? Are you nuts?
If you ask me, it’s all nuts. It’s so nuts–it could even be called peanuts.
The fact that these scenarios are so commonplace leads me to believe that the real change–transformation, if you will–will happen when our egos are strong enough to make decisions in our favour.
But for some reason, I know, without a semblance of a doubt, that I will keep meeting these nuts who drive me peanuts.