Checking my ego has been such a humbling process. Uncovering the truth of her existence within me and confronting her head on with vulnerability and discomfort in moments when she decides to step over the line way past confidence and humility, has and continues to be jarring. I’ve seen her appear mostly in spaces where my worth is challenged, where I feel my sense of being is compromised by the being of another. There are certain things that I feel I have understood of myself- the learnings, skills, practices and ways I have learned to live and thrive in fulfillment that I have and continue worked to master, grow and create in all my invested experiences. These investments have made me who I believe I am, and being exceptional in these traits of course brings a sense of pride and passion. I have taken pause to be very observant of my behaviors, thoughts and actions in most recent moments where I feel my ego arising. I’ve realized it has been most present in these moments of comparison to others who are walking what seems to be a similar path as my own. The initial feelings of threat that are awakened in me have been something I didn’t want to fully examine, or have denied even existed fully- for fear of being truly honest about the real presence of the human fault of egotism within me.
I have thought about this reality primarily in spaces of leadership and experiences in which one is recognized or held to a certain light as a person to look to as a model, a teacher and person who has influence and inspires. I feel we all seek to be acknowledged for something we work to better in ourselves, and we have been taught to aspire to attain leadership, ownership, and/or a sense of power of influence and attraction in this. But I have learned more and more the value of removing myself from those aspirations completely. Where it is not the intention to become a leader, seeing rather that leadership is a state of being that we arise to when we are truly living out our lives centered in our own personal power. When we are in want of constant growth and betterment of self and seek to support those who may feel you can guide and share with them in their own growth and betterment, understanding that they have something to teach us in exchange for betterment in another aspect of living in return- this to me is where true leadership arises, in exchange.
I realize how conditioned we are to live in a way that makes us seek standards of measurement that tell us what betterment in any learning looks like- a degree, a title, a certification. We see mastery as Linear, in schooling we pay to learn in such a way that says we have achieved another marking a notch on our belt signifying our betterment. We boast our learnings from institutions and known places of prestige in relation to what we are investing our path toward. And I have been working so hard to remove myself from this thinking after living almost 3 decades believing that my learning should be measured in this way, or should be measured by anyone else at all.
I was contemplating this to a friend recently, speaking to her about how I wonder how and who established certain paths as the “way” or the “right” and what it took for the majority to invest in believing that and seeking to take that particular path even if it does not fulfill them as wholly. I reflect on times that I have been corrected or have repeated those correction others who are not doing things as we might have learned for ourselves works or yields the greatest results. We argue our experience as being the one that they should take- and we urge them, as others may have urged us to take on an experience and learning similar to you. There is a difference between offering and forcing your lived experience on another.
Why act out of self righteousness, and judgement over others and create feeling that you have the burden, or responsibility to bring people to “where you are at”- as if you were more enlightened, as if you were better than, as if you know what is best for them and what their path looks like? This want to be a leader is ego driven, to say “I’m going to lead you.” “You should follow me.” And maybe we don’t say this as directly (although many do), but we say things that evoke that.
In my own process of becoming, I have become more and more aware of my disconnect to claiming myself as a leader. I am not fixated on leading. I am focused on being and investing in my path and celebrating others on their own. I understand that what is “ripe” for me, may not be for others. Only they can know what they are ready for, or what calls to them to move forward, what makes them feel lifted and elevated. It may look similar to my path, but it will never fully be my own.
I have been blessed to have teachers and mentors throughout my lifetime who have given me access to this expansive way of understanding leadership and mastery. I have seen so many of them invest their teachings to me in a way that understands they are giving me access to a part of them that may grow differently in me and they have encouraged and supported that in so many ways. I have been taught to see leadership as a support to others, in Kababayan we used to speak of the notion of being a leader amongst a world of leaders. I have gained insight of the value in collective leadership, where everyone in a community has something to offer to us that will expand our human being. And at El Puente we speak on the principles of Collective Self Help and Ubity through Diversity that bring upon Transformative Community Building. Just the other day I explained to one of my Guros in my Filipino martial arts training that I felt a bit intimidated to attend a seminar because of the master teachers who would be teaching as I had heard so much about them. He offered me the perspective that yes there is a respect and an honoring toward them for their mastery in which they embody, but to remember that we all are masters of life in someway, and we will be skilled in another area of living where they are not because we have walked our path differently than them and they would honor that as well.
We all have the means within ourselves to delve so deeply into something that we work toward understanding and applying it in a masterful way. We all have the potential to grow into greatness, throughout the lifetime we live- whatever feels like greatness to you. We all have the ability to teach as we learn in an exchange of our own unique human experience and discoveries. Sharing in this way what we invest and commit our physical, mental and spiritual capacities to can bring the attention of others where their ask of you is to lead, guide and help them understand what you have uncovered of this living. And this exchange may only be for a moment in time, or you may build together in this learning and expanding for a lifetime. But I have learned that for however long I walk on a path of becoming with another it is important to accept that we are always on separate journeys. This truth allows ego to fade away.This is where leadership arises in a way that is not self centered, but rather centered in a self- where you have invested so much of your time, presence, curiosity, connection and urgency to better yourself and master a practice, a learning, a way of viewing and living in the world and all you wish to do is share it. Not because you believe it is the only way, or the best way, but because it has uplifted and grown you on your journey in a deep way.