Saturday, September 06, 2003

Winning against a Big Ego

I'm a Little Person. Not having a big ego is one reason why I've found a comfortable niche at work. Most of us are Little People, and we're often cowed by the Big Egos. They have a surfeit of stamina, confidence, competitiveness. All the status stuff just means more to them, and so they win more. They win more stuff, and they win more often.

That's OK, most of the time. Still, sometimes the Little People wish they could win a round or two. It's tough; the Big Egos just care more. One of my blog projects is to figure out how we can prevail at least sometimes.

Martial arts, particularly those developed by the weak to defend themselves, seem to be apposite. Think aikido; think guerilla warfare.

Here are some ideas:

1. Pick your ground. Make sure you know the terrain better than the Big Ego. They range far and wide

2. Take your losses. You will lose more often than you win. However, any win is a triumph.

3. Let them save face. Understand why you need to win, and what you need to win. If you can achieve your goal and leave the Big Ego thinking they lost nothing, you are much less likely to be harmed in a fit of revenge. If you need to humiliate then, understand that the deal is that they may then destroy you.

4. If you can't control yourself, you can't control them. The Seidokan Principles of Aikido says it more gently: "True Victory is Victory Over Oneself. One must first learn to control oneself before attempting to harmonize and control others."

5. Play from the edge - engage, but don't get too close. You can't win if you don't commit, but it helps if you can draw the Big Ego off balance into an area you control. Seidokan Aikido calls this the "range of effectiveness".

6. Yield before responding. This is used in tai chi, and I expect in many other arts. Yield to the initial attack, drawing the attacker forward, off balance. If you try to match your ego directly against the Big Ego, you will inevitably lose.

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