The Dangers of Falling in Love with Yourself
I am often asked if the social media posts I make or the articles I write involve someone specific. The answer is no, they do not. People have gone as far as to say, "I know that was about me" or "I know you posted that just for me". While I enjoy hearing my material is practical, helpful, and timely, I promise none of it is specific to a single person, but rather composites of many people and also experiences I have had or gone through myself. With those thoughts in mind, it's doubtful anyone will claim the content of today's post is about them specifically. If this were a text or social media, I would insert a smiley face emoticon. 🙂
Most people are familiar with the Greek story of Narcissus, who saw a reflection of himself in a pool of water and fell in love with himself. He was so taken by his image that he leaned closer and closer to get a better and better look at himself until finally, he fell into the water and drowned. Based on this legend, the term Narcissism has come to be known as falling in love with yourself. This condition is running a little wild in our society today, especially in the political arena on both sides in particular and on social media in general. How do you think "selfies" got so popular? Sometimes, these unchecked pockets of narcissism are pretty prevalent in leadership positions.
Narcissism takes the form of a voice from within that says, "I am the smartest one", "I am the one with the answers", "You can come to me with all the solutions you need no matter what your problem is". It's the underlying attitude in your ego that convinces you are right--all the time. When narcissism moves into your heart and mind and takes up residence in your ego, you love yourself more than the accountabilities of leadership that have been entrusted to you.
If you imagine your ego as a healthy lawn or garden, you want to keep healthy and in check. This deadly love of self is the weeds that begin to invade and take over your nice healthy place and then challenges start to arise because of it. The first challenge is the blind spot of your own pride. Believe it or not, oftentimes, people around them cannot always put their finger on it, either. Maybe they sense it but don't have the courage or fortitude to confront the leader either. If this dynamic continues for too long, it contaminates the organizational climate and begins to spread the less than healthy attitude.
How to avoid this deadly narcissistic condition? Think of yourself and consider yourself but keep it in check from becoming too often and too highly. It is healthy to value yourself. It is healthy to value yourself. It is unhealthy to overvalue yourself and to overfocus on yourself. Give proper honor to what you have achieved without dishonoring others. Learn what you need to learn without minimizing the others who helped you or are in the room with you. When you can do these things, often through meditation and practice, you'll have your pride in check, you'll be able to remove the weeds of self-indulgence, and you'll be stewarding your accountabilities in a healthier way. You'll be a better avatar for the desired culture and a better model for your reports.
Take stock of yourself and beware of the lure of narcissism, it always creates a fall.