Back when I was an insecure high school freshman, I worked on a school play in the costumes department, and looked up with admiration to the senior girl in a lead role. She seemed so sure of herself, so confident on stage. I hoped someday to have those qualities she had—and wouldn’t you know that many years later, the universe would bring us together again in collaboration through our professional lives? Susan Wehrley came to me as an editing client through my colleague Stephanie Gunning when Stephanie and I were both living in New York City. When Susan and I realized we remembered each other from our little high school and that play long ago, we knew we were destined to work together—and eventually, we became good friends. Her work and mine are simpatico, and I think there’s much you can learn from Susan and her insights into how we hold ourselves back from living the lives we desire and enjoying the success we deserve.
Susan Wehrley’s new book, EGO at Work, will be released this spring, and she is currently offering a related webinar called EGO Challenge. It will run Wednesday nights, April 8 through July 15 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. CST and includes live Q&A sessions so you can get coaching for success from Susan, who has worked with business leaders and teams in Fortune 500 companies such as Pepsi-Cola and Harley Davidson, as well as helped build companies from the ground up! Susan is the author of several books on personal and business success and has been featured in an hour-long PBS special on WMVT-TV in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is brilliant at getting people to play well together in the sandbox—and we all know how important that is! Moreover, she gently but firmly coaches people into finding their purpose and passion so that they can be more effective at work and at home. Susan’s a dynamic coach and business innovator who created her own company. called Biz Remedies, to help entrepreneurs collaborate with each other. I asked her about her book and her insights into EGO at work.
I think many of us, particularly if we’re authors or in the mind/body/spirit field or both, second-guess ourselves about our egos—we worry, are we being egotistic, or should we embrace our ego?
There is a lot of misunderstanding about the EGO. I have written a book about it because many people, not just authors in the mind/body/spirit field, have this same concern. The book explains how I see the EGO in three ways:
1) Little EGO, which is our insecurity and self-doubt that keeps us from attaining our purpose and goals. It tends to blame others and circumstances and finds it hard to be compassionate, collaborative and innovative with others because it is easily offended and takes disagreement and difficulty personally.
2) Big EGO, which is our mask of grandiosity that covers our fear and self-doubt. It keeps us from attaining our purpose and goals, because it tends to blame others and circumstances and gets easily angered when things aren’t going as it thought it “should.” It tends to push people towards what it deems as the “RIGHT” way (our way)!
Both of these aspects of the EGO come from our fear-based thinking and way of being. We are egocentric or self-absorbed when in little EGO or big EGO.
3) Ego-strength, is our authentic self that knows who we are and what we are called to do or say. It is the part of us that is resilient and doesn’t take others’ opinions personally, because we are not focused on safety, security, love, and belonging like we are when we’re in the other two aspects of our EGO. As a result, we are more focused on purpose, passion, power and peace and can be more compassionate, collaborative, and innovative with others.
I LOVE that you took on this topic of the ego at work–meaning the workplace but also in our lives. Why did you capitalize EGO in your book’s title?
I capitalize EGO to remind us that when we are in our little and big EGO, we are Edging our God-like Self Out and also Edging the Group Out because we are so absorbed in our own thinking of what is right or wrong or how things “should be.”
How does our “little ego” prevent us from being compassionate, collaborative, and innovative?
Many believe the little EGO is being humble, but it is not. The little EGO is very self-absorbed and insecure. It tends to be more focused on pleasing others because of its concerns with safety, security, love and belonging. With this focus, it is hard to be compassionate with others who may think differently, and to agree to disagree, which is the essence of collaboration. If we don’t get out of the scripts in our mind, how could we possibly create something new and be innovative?
You talk about being in our “ego strength.” What is that, and how does that help us to be compassionate, collaborative, and innovative?
When we are in our Ego-strength, we respect that we all have a different point of view and are open to agreeing to disagree. We don’t take others’ opinions personally and instead of being offended or angered by a different opinion, we are curious to discover another person’s point of view. It takes Egosstrength to stand tall in who you are and allow someone else to do the same. The conversation, when it is this open and honest, can lead to an “a-ha” moment (a heightened awareness) that helps all parties realize something neither of you realized before. This compassionate, collaborative and innovative connection is, in my opinion, the most spiritual connection we can have with others, because we are stretching even beyond our Ego-strength and connecting with something bigger than our selves: our Intuitive Self.
What’s an example or story of ego strength allowing someone to achieve these three goals?
I actually tell four great stories and examples in the book. The one your audience would likely love the most is about the spiritual author who is just launching her book and falls in love with a fireman. It starts out hot and heavy, but then he pulls away from her because he fears losing himself. Her EGO gets activated as she is thrown into the unknown, wondering if she is “enough”–not only “enough” to make him happy but to be a success in her book launch and new business. Everyone can relate to this EGO story, as it is about how stretching ourselves to reach our purpose can put us in the unknown and back into our deep-seated insecurity and EGO-scripts. The moral of the story is: “It’s not about him. Every relationship is an extension of our relationship with self—so what is the insecurity about within YOU?” That is what we solve in the story!
As someone who writes books and gives people advice in a public way, I open myself up to being called a narcissist or egotist. And I don’t want to let my little EGO get in the way of being compassionate toward people who don’t agree with my advice and who might take potshots at me as a person because hey, who am I to put myself out there as an expert? So many authors, whether they’re beginners or have been writing books for a while, struggle with being vulnerable when they are in the public eye. Any advice?
That is a normal concern because our EGO chatters, “Little missy…who do you think you are to be an expert?!” It is not really others’ opinion of you that makes you worry about being a narcissist or egotist. It is an insecurity script in your mind that is getting pulled up for you to look at and work out. I have a tool in the book called, “EGO Workout” that helps us look at the trigger to our fear, the judgment we have and where it came from, and how to problem-solve to reach our purpose and goals.
Your books are always so rich in practical takeaway—it’s one reason I’ve loved working on them and I recommend them to other authors! And EGO at Work is no different. But if you could give us just ONE technique that is core to the book, what would it be? And how would it benefit anyone looking to be more successful with their work?
It is the EGO Workout tool I just mentioned. I had a client use it the other day and here’s what she said: “I realize now that doing the EGO Workout is no different than doing my physical workout every day. If I don’t, I’m stressed, don’t feel good about myself, I’m not focused, and I believe the lie that the issues are outside of myself—which by the way—I can do nothing about! But when I do the EGO Workout I realize what is really bothering me, where it came from, and what I need to do about my situation. It is really empowering!”
Thank you, Susan. I’m looking forward to your webinar based on EGO at Work!
And if you’d like to attend the webinar and receive the benefit of Susan’s coaching, the cost is $585 UNLESS you sign up through THIS LINK, which allows you to save $100, allowing you to attend as many nights as you like for $485.
Interested in learning more about Susan’s work and her book EGO at Work? Follow Susan K. Wehrley and Associates on Facebook.