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Passion or Ego?

By: Joaquin y Viera

Some days ago, working with one of our clients (an organization), I found myself asking if organizations have EGO, the same way people do. If we relate to an individual, I refer to Ego as that external search for recognition and success, propelling us to perform searching for the acceptance of our peers or by looking to fit into what society determines we must be or have. How would Ego manifest itself in organizations? Could it be possible that organizations have something similar to Ego?

The way in which organizations determine their purpose, the one that represents their fundamental reason for being, and how much it intends to encompass, is something that I question. I wonder what elements does this purpose move? passion? inspiration? motivation? ego?

Lately I’m thinking that individuals and organizations set objectives depending on their goals and points of view, but influenced by a society that is always telling us “that without a life purpose/objective we are nothing and will be nothing as long as we don’t have a clear vision of what to strive for”. That could be why we crumble when we try to determine what to achieve while on earth; as we obviously desire that our achievements must be meaningful, transforming and of the highest impact. So, what if, we don’t have it clear? If we can’t do it alone? If the price to pay is too high?

Let’s think on, with reference to the last question, as an example: what would the price be for an organization to have as their purpose “to eradicate hunger”? Yes, I’m considering the economic implications but what about the emotional and mental health costs? What kind of resources does an organization require to have in place to achieve this particular purpose? How will the workers of these organizations tackle the objective and how much effort must be exerted by them just in trying to achieve it?

In my experience, some organizations end up sacrificing internal resources to achieve their purpose. So, it’s from this stand point that I ask myself, does this attitude respond to passion or ego?

Let’s look closely at this example: This organization works in the nutrition industry and its mission is to combat malnutrition in Peru. How much effort must be exerted by the organization to reach this goal? What would happen if their objective is only something in their horizon or just a North to follow? Is it beneficial to follow a path which is impossible to accomplish?

I think that initially there would be passion in achieving the objective but the task is so enormous and complex that possibly if they intent combating malnutrition what they would achieve instead would be high levels of frustration after attempting time and time again to achieve it: Truth is an organization can’t tackle something this big alone. So, I ask myself again, where does this ideal, wish or objective come from? Is it from an Ego standpoint, looking for the recognition it would receive by achieving the objective? If so, don’t we lose the passion and awaken a competitive edge to it; “I’ll be the one to do it, my competitors’ wont” What would it be like to belong to an organization with that train of thought? Maybe very exiting and empowering but also exhausting and debilitating.

Therefore, I ask myself, isn’t there a balanced way to approach and reach your purpose like building within and outside the organization? Isn’t there a way to take sustainable action that won’t risk the wellbeing of my people as well as contributing to others? Could this be possible? Could it be that an equilibrium within and without organizations can be found to contribute in the eradication of hunger without over working your people to the bone?

I would like to believe it is possible and now we have a chance to discover how.