To What Degree Do You Know Your Ego Driver?

Ryan Gottfredson

by Ryan Gottfredson

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brick wall under spotlight

In my last article, “We Each Have an Ego Driver,” I suggested:

  • We each have an Ego Driver connected to our quick-thinking brain that is prone to direct our thinking and behaviors
  • For most people, our Ego Driver operates below the level of our consciousness (most people don’t know they have an Ego Driver and they see themselves as self-directed, even if they are Ego-driven)
  • There is a correlation between our awareness of our Ego Driver and our vertical altitude

Regarding this last point, I want you to consider: To what degree do you know your Ego Driver?

There are Different Degrees of Knowing Our Ego Driver

In my work helping leaders vertically develop, I have been able to pick up on a pattern associated with the correlation between being aware of our Ego Driver and our vertical altitude.

There seems to be four benchmarks associated with our Ego Driver awareness.

I want to share these benchmarks with you as a way to help you gauge your Ego Driver awareness and vertical altitude.

(By the way, I also think it is possible to swap out “Ego Driver” with “Mindsets” to think about these benchmarks from another angle.)

Benchmark #1: Recognition that we have an Ego Driver

Vertical development statistics reveal that 64% of all adults never vertically develop in their lifetime. These are people that never recognize that they have an Ego Driver.

Let me give you a fascinating example of how this shows up.

A CEO hired me to be a keynote speaker at an off-site that would involve the organization’s Board of Directors and Executive Team. We invited these groups to take my mindset assessment in advance, which would allow me to present a collective mindset report during my keynote.

Just a few days before the session, everyone had taken the mindset assessment except a prominent member of the Board of Directors. I informed the CEO of this, and he said that he would personally remind her to take the assessment.

The next day, the CEO called me to regretfully inform me that I would not be speaking at the off-site. That member of the Board of Directors had taken my mindset assessment, did not like her results, and deemed a focus on mindsets to be unnecessary and unproductive for the off-site.

I checked her mindset results. Do you think they were very positive? No!

She had an Ego Driver that was preventing her from stepping into a topic that might make her look bad in front of others. So, she removed me from the agenda, removing a topic that might be the very best thing for her to learn about.

From this experience, it seemed obvious that this woman was being driven by her Ego Driver with no conscious recognition of that fact. She had not cleared the first benchmark.

Another example of someone who hadn’t cleared the first benchmark is a distant relative who is having marital problems, and he said, “I don’t believe in therapists. Only whack jobs meet with therapists. And, I am not a whack job.” He is someone who does not recognize that he has an Ego Driver that is making him defensive, self-protective, and holding him back from getting the help and support he really needs.

People who clear this first benchmark are those who awaken to the fact that they have an Ego Driver. They recognize that there is something about themselves that causes them to be self-protective and reactive.

But, those that don’t clear Benchmark #2 are usually those who can see that they have an Ego Driver, but either (1) don’t believe they can change, or (2) feel like their self-protectionism and reactivity feels so right that they are not willing to explore seeing or operating in a different way.

Benchmark #2: Interest in Exploring One’s Ego Driver

I had a group of leaders who came together to sponsor a mindset development workshop for their subordinates, where I would be facilitating the session. Leading up to the session, I realized that one of these leaders hadn’t taken my mindset assessment, and I reminded her to complete it.

In a similar situation as the Board Member above, this woman emailed me a terse message saying that my mindset assessment was bad and wrong, and that she wasn’t going to attend the workshop.

Feeling that she needed some space, I didn’t immediately respond.

The next day, I woke up to an email from her, where she said, “I talked to my husband last night, and I think it will be good for me to be a part of your workshop.”

I am not sure what occurred in her conversation with her husband, but she became interested in exploring her Ego Driver through the focus on mindsets.

I have a lot of people who take my mindset assessment, get results that they don’t love, and then don’t do anything with those results. They don’t have any interest in exploring the topic further. This is evidence that they are not clearing either Benchmark #1 or, more likely, Benchmark #2.

brick wall under spotlight

Benchmark #3: Actually Exploring One’s Ego Driver

People who clear Benchmark #3 (1) recognize that they have an Ego Driver, (2) have interest in exploring their Ego Driver, and (3) actually engage in effort to explore their Ego Driver.

These are people who, after taking my mindset assessment, want to learn more about their results. They are the ones that will generally buy my books (Success Mindsets and/or The Elevated Leader) and possibly seek out coaching or additional support to more fully awaken to their Ego Driver.

When I work with executive teams, I will commonly engage in a short-term coaching process that involves the crafting of a personal vertical development plan focused on exploring one’s Ego Driver.

My experience is that less than 1/3rd of these executives actually do the work of their vertical development plan. This, to me, is a signal that they have not yet cleared Benchmark #3.

Benchmark #4: Accepting Their Ego Driver and Bring it to Light

It is one thing to engage in exploration efforts focused on our Ego Driver. But, it is another thing to (1) accept our Ego Driver when we awaken to it, and then (2) bring it to light (which usually involves developing an ability to share our Ego Driver discovery journey and acknowledging how our Ego Driver has held us back).

In my personal vertical development journey, one of the hardest parts was for me to admit my recognition of my Ego Driver to those around me who had been harmed by my Ego Driver.

But, here is what I learned from doing so: When we bring our Ego Driver (or shadow self) to light, it goes away. The more light we shine on our Ego Driver, the less power it has over us. And, the less power our Ego Driver plays in our lives, the more we are able to operate at a high vertical altitude.

The Four Benchmarks

Below is a summary of the four benchmarks associated with awakening to our Ego Driver:

  • Benchmark #1: Recognition that we have an Ego Driver
  • Benchmark #2: Interest in Exploring One’s Ego Driver
  • Benchmark #3: Actually Exploring One’s Ego Driver
  • Benchmark #4: Accepting Their Ego Driver and Bring it to Light

I have learned that the more benchmarks we clear, the more vertically developed we are.

Does this help you gauge your vertical altitude?

Can I Help you?

If you would like to help your leaders clear higher benchmarks, I have assessments, workshops, and coaching practices all designed to help leaders deepen their self-awareness so that they can operate at higher vertical altitudes. I would love to help you foster the vertical development of your leaders. If you would like, you can connect with me here.

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