"I can't think of too many factors that contribute more to our stress, anxiety, and frustration than a large ego. Therefore, easing off your ego is one of the most leveraged efforts you can make to reduce the stress at work.
"I think of the ego as that part of us that needs to stand out and be special. And while each one of us is certainly special and unique in our own way, our ego has the need to prove this to everyone. The ego is that part of us that brags, exaggerates, criticizes, and judges others (as well as ourselves). The ego is very self-centered, as if it needs to yell out, "Look at me!" Because the ego is so self-preoccupied and selfish, it encourages us to lose our compassion for and interest in others. Its sole commitment is to maintain itself.
"In addition to the obvious drawbacks, the ego is an enormous source of stress. Think about how much energy and attentiveness it takes to prove yourself, show off, and defend your actions. Consider how stressful it is to compare yourself to others and to put yourself down. Think about how draining it is to constantly be keeping score of how you're doing and to be overly concerned with what others think about you. I get tired just thinking about it!
"Easing off your ego is accomplished by intention. The first step is to have the desire to shrink your ego down to size and to see how destructive and stressful it can be. The rest is easy. All it takes is humility and patience. Begin paying attention to your thoughts and behavior. When you notice yourself in your "proving mode," gently remind yourself to back off. You can say something simple to yourself like, "Whoops, there I go again." Be sure to laugh at and be easy on yourself. Don't make letting go of your ego into yet another contest with yourself. It's not an emergency. Be patient and it will happen.
"There is a lot to be gained by easing off your ego. First and foremost, you'll feel as though a huge burden has been lifted. As I mentioned, it takes a great deal of effort to be on guard and in the proving mode. Therefore, you'll have a great deal more energy and will become more lighthearted. In addition, as you ease off your ego, you'll become much more interested in other people. You'll become a better listener and a kinder, more generous person. This will translate into people liking you even more than they already do. As you let go of the need to impress others and simply be yourself, you'll end up getting more positive attention than ever before. You won't need it, but you'll get it.
"I hope you'll give this strategy some careful consideration and gentle effort. If each of us can become more humble, sincere and generous, the world will be a much nicer place. And to top it off, none of us will be sweating the small stuff."
-- Richard Carlson, 1961-2006, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work.