Let Go of Your Ego to Enable Co-creation
In order for cocreation to happen, we need to let go of our expectations, our need to look good in front of others, and our attachment to the results of our efforts. Our egos often get in the way of co-creation because we are too focused on our own ideas and desires. Read this post to get ideas for how to co-create more efficiently with better results.
In the past, when I was the CEO of Twingly, there was a salesperson that wrote great emails and sales copy, but sometimes struggled to know if the end result was good enough. We knew each other well, having mutual confidence in being familiar with each other's strengths and mindsets. I knew from the bottom of my heart that whenever she handed me a text for editing, she had 100% trust in that whatever changes I made were sound and elevated the end result. This allowed me to cut, rearrange and improve her texts without any ego getting in the way, on either side. Our workflow was fast and efficient and the result was always better than either of us could have achieved on our own.
Co-creation only works if we let go of our attachment to the results. We need to be open to others' ideas and focus on the process, not the outcome. When we enjoy the journey, the destination is secondary.
What is ego in this case? Ego is our attachment to our own ideas and desires. It's our need to look good in front of others, and our need to be right. It's the voice in our head that tells us we need to do everything ourselves, and that we can't rely on anyone else.
"Let go" are two words easy to say, but they can be extremely difficult to put into practice.
So, how do we let go of our ego? Here are some ideas:
1. Know yourself.
Notice the physical sensation you get in your body when attaching yourself to a certain outcome. Is there warmth in your chest when you feel like your contributions are not valued, or when you realize they might not have the prominent place in the end result of collaborative efforts as you would have wished? Do you tense up, raising shoulders or closing fists? Use the awareness of your physical response to remind yourself that it's a good time to let go and detach.
2. Don't take things personally.
This is a hard one, but it's so important. When we're attached to the results, we take things personally. We take criticism personally, and we take compliments personally. We need to remember that it's not about us; it's about the task at hand. We need to let go of our ego and remember that we're working towards a common goal.
3. Trust your co-creators.
If you hold back your suggestions because you think the people you work with will respond negatively, beware that you might only project your own attachments on them. Go out on a limb to suggest changes even though they might interfere with what other people have in mind. Your co-creators might be more likely to appreciate your contributions if you don't treat them as if you need to protect their feelings.
4. Practice and express gratitude.
A great way to let go of your ego is to practice gratitude. Be grateful for the opportunity to co-create. Be grateful for the people you're working with. Be grateful for the journey. When we're grateful, we're not focused on ourselves. We're focused on the good that's happening around us. Gratitude is a great way to let go of our ego.
5. Don't take yourself too seriously.
When we take ourselves too seriously, we're not open to others' ideas. We're not open to feedback. We're not open to the process. We're so focused on the outcome that we're not enjoying the journey. So, don't take yourself too seriously. Enjoy the process, and the results will take care of themselves.
In summary, ego can get in the way of co-creation because we're too focused on our own ideas and desires. If we want to overcome this, we need to let go of our attachment to the results and be open to others' ideas. We also need to focus on the process, not the outcome. When we do this, we can enjoy the journey and the results will take care of themselves.
For further reading on the topic of letting go, I warmly recommend the website Life Without a Centre which contains the writings of Jeff Foster.
And for a light-hearted approach to the topic, I recommend the book Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday.