I wrote about how going to camp put me back in student mode, and how that challenged my ego. I have gotten so much out of Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth. It helped crystallize all the ways that ego gets in my way. I see it in myself—and in others—at work and in personal relationships.

When you meditate, part of the point is to simply observe. Observe your breath. Observe your body. Observe, rather than participate in or react to, your thoughts.

This observational skill is wonderful as a consultant, because it helps you see more deeply into client issues. It helps when facilitating meetings or projects.

It also helps me notice when my ego is stomping around asking for attention.

The interesting thing about going to camp as a grown-up is that you still feel and act the same way you did in 7th grade. (Just add tequila and you’re there.) There are the cool kids and the uncool kids. The kids who went last year and know all the camp counselors and the new kids. There are the girls who look great in their bathing suits and the girls who’d rather not wear one at all.

I’d rather wear my Urban Farmer t-shirt than a bathing suit any day.
Photo by Sally Vargas. Used with permission.

We all compare ourselves to others. Sometimes we find ourselves wanting or we feel superior because we won that particular race. It’s all our ego.

Some people dealt with this by withdrawing. Others found a group, a comfort zone, and hung out with them. I floated back and forth. I was surprised at how challenging it was to get around to forty people over four days. There are some I never even talked to, which is a regret. But I could feel my 13-year-old self being challenged. Sometimes I stepped up, sometimes I didn’t.

Here is my takeaway: In my next professional gathering, I am going to pay more attention to this. I’m going to make a point of welcoming new people and connect them with others so they don’t feel left out. When everyone feels welcome, all the egos can calm down and get what they came for. I had the chance to try this last week when I went to a gathering of museum professionals in Hawai’i.

In the end, I got what I wanted out of the camp experience, because I’m old enough and secure enough to take responsibility for that. Part of that is a clearer direction for this blog, and more pieces like this one about feeding our interior lives, part of a healthy lifestyle.

I’d love to hear your reactions.