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paul wheaton
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I still haven't figured out what "ego" means. I hear the word a lot, in reference to me - so I must be riddled with it. And if I'm riddled with "ego" then I must really like it.

Sometimes I hear people say that somebody is bad because they have ego. Perhaps it is noble for a person to choose a path without ego, but it seems wrong to try to shame others to follow a similar path.

A bit of fishing on wikipedia gives me this:

Egotism is the drive to maintain and enhance favorable views of oneself, and generally features an inflated opinion of one's personal features and importance — intellectual, physical, social and other.[1]
The egotist has an overwhelming sense of the centrality of the 'Me': of their personal qualities.[2] Egotism means placing oneself at the core of one's world with no concern for others, including those loved or considered as "close," in any other terms except those set by the egotist.


I suppose there are times where I think I am more awesome than I really am. And I suppose there are times when I think I am not as awesome as I really am.

I really do think I am important. Do I inflate my importance?

"overwhelming sense of the centrality of the 'Me'": I don't feel overwhelmed.

"Egotism means placing oneself at the core of one's world with no concern for others" - since I have demonstrated more than "no concern", then I guess this does not apply to me.

More from wikipedia:

Egotism is closely related to "loving one's self" or narcissism


This is definitely me. I think I'm damn awesome. It is freaky awesome being me.

----

If a person is on a path to rid themselves of ego, then it seems they wish to develop self-loathing? That doesn't seem right.

If a person is without ego, then I suppose they think little of themselves. So I suppose that a person that is free of ego will never post here, and will never write an email, and never call anybody and, generally, never talk. All because they are certain that nobody will care what they have to say.

Therefore, anybody who ever posts to a public forum, or writes and email or makes a phone call ... anybody that offers any opinion in any way ... that person has ego.

Conclusion: anybody with the word "ego" on their lips, suffers from it.



 
paul wheaton
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Did Gandhi have ego?

Mother Theresa?

The pope?

The Dalai Lama?

The Dalai Lama talks about ego and how awful it is: but how can he say anything out loud if he is free of ego? So his ego is okay, but everybody else needs to shut up? He suggests that compassion is the opposite of ego. There cannot be both? A person cannot be of the position "I'm awesome and you need a hand - here ya go."







 
Tyler Ludens
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Paul, my husband calls you "The Singularity." Not sure if he means you have a big ego, or that you're just big, or that you're unique, or what.....

Here's one of the definitions I found for "ego" "Appropriate pride in oneself; self-esteem." Seems like kind of a good thing. These other two definitions also don't seem too bad "the 'I' or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought. the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment. "

I think for a lot of people the word ego means "something bad you have that I don't have." I also have problems with some of these words. Like "spiritual" which as often used seems to mean "something good I have that you don't have." Same with enlightened, evolved, etc.....

I think the Dalai Lama might be saying something like compassion breaks down the barrier between the self and other selves. But I don't see them as incompatible. From my point of view, a strong sense of self and appropriate belief in one's abilities should enable one to be more compassionate than a weak sense of self, self-doubt, would do. A person with appropriate confidence has the real strength necessary to take on other people's problems. A weak self, a weak will and a lot of self-doubt, maybe not so much.

In my big fat egotistical opinion.
 
            
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All the joy the world contains
Has come through wishing happiness for others.
All the misery the world contains
Has come through wanting pleasure for oneself.
-Shantideva
 
Tyler Ludens
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That's exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about! Everyone wants pleasure for themselves, if they're honest. We're adapted to seek what gives us pleasure and avoid what gives us pain. Might be hard to survive otherwise as little critters on this dangerous planet. What causes misery is demanding one's own pleasure in disregard of other people's needs and other people's feelings. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with wanting pleasure.

In my big fat opinion.
 
paul wheaton
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I like the "Appropriate pride in oneself; self-esteem."

I think having fun in life while respecting good people is a healthy path. I did the sacrifice-for-others thing far too long.

Live large!

 
R Scott
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EVERYONE has an ego. Just like everyone has a worldview.

I think there is a correlation to how oversized you see someone else's ego vs. how different their worldview is to yours. If you value the same things, you see it as excitement or exuberance; if you don't, you see it as vanity, greed, ego, etc. Part of that is your own ego puffing up to protect itself.

 
chrissy bauman
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You're #1 american permaculture guy! isn't that what sepp holzer said?
 
Rufus Laggren
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My personal experience has repeatedly been that people lay onto others that which they really are themselves (and absolutely don't acknowledge, even to themselves). Once in a while it may be calculated or part of a mob thing but when spoken individually I think attack words like that mean somebody thinks/feels they/theirs just got walked on.

Since you seem a forthright fellow who speaks right up and sticks to his guns and has a few blind spots... Well, stuff's always gonna fly. Can't see it's anything to worry about, 'cept for your psychic laundry bill - at least until/unless you get curious about the person or the point of disagreement. We all got our own little things friends have to put up with, not like any angels around here. Eg. me? I talk too much! <g> (Among other things.)

I'm not sure the Dalai Lama fits your style. Maybe look into the "Code of the Samurai" or talk to the guys that train sumo wrestlers. But truth tell, I'm not sure about the fit there either. Seems closer than the Dalai Lama, though. Maybe ancient Viking codes? <g>

Rufus
 
Kelson Water
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from my vantage point, you are the individual who helped alot of other people by creating and maintaining an internet forum which allows others to share ideas, experiences, and resources.

Thank you!
 
Susan Noyes
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Another definition of ego:

'The part of a person that is conscious and thinks; the self.'

Then there's the superego and the id.

 
Leila Rich
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All that philosophical Jung and Freud stuff aside, for me, 'ego' is just another word for 'self-belief'; and we need plenty of that to do the stuff we need to do.
There's plenty of people without self-belief standing around saying "nah, XYZ is impossible, and if you prove it isn't, that just proves my theory that your ego is rampant and must be stopped"
 
leila hamaya
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yeah i think about this too and its all weird.

i think theres a positive kind of ego, and a negative kind of ego. the positive ego is self serving- and by this serves EVERYTHING else. but thats a way of truly serving the self, and its needs and wants, not at the cost of other beings or to excess (which is negative ego which serves no one, not even the self although this is subtle and people miss it).

so its a weird paradox.....yet theres this sense that one should be self sacrificing, but its very misplaced and weird.

it seems like maybe people are missing out on the WIN/WIN nature of things....like it comes across to them that theres ONLY either what you want, or whats good for everyone. doesnt seem possible these two things are ONE AND THE SAME? maybe the universe wants you to be happy, to be fufilled, to shine, to have what you need and want, as long as its a healthy desire.

where negative ego comes from insecurity, it wants to dominate and control, because its foundation is weak...it becomes us vs them.....instead

anywho i think you re awesome paul wheaton =)
i enjoy your ramblings and writings =) keep up the good work!
 
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela
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I have thought about this topic from many perspectives in my lifetime. And it has been of particular interest to me, now, because my life has been altered in such a way that I often feel like Algernon in decline.

I get diagnosed with ego by people, too. I've always had a keen passion for getting into the guts of a topic and questioning it's foundations. And, I have a healthy respect for my deductive skills and intuition. It turns-out all of those traits make people uncomfortable enough to protect themselves by labeling the offender (me) as egotistical (rather glad I don't live in a culture where women like me get burned at the stake!). Since many of my friends and associates have have been labeled the same way, I've come to the conclusion that people who label others with "ego" issues are doing so from within the confines of their own sense of comfort. It has very little to do with the person being labeled and more to do with the insecurities of the labeler.

I also believe the definition of Ego is often confused with intelligence. I wouldn't bother too much about it unless people you have a healthy respect for start pulling you aside for that mano-y-mano chat.
 
Matt Ferrall
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I think Leila is right on.When ones ego is alighned with the whole,it is free to express itself AND be of value to others.The idea that ego comes at others expense is due to what our culture teaches us to attach our egos to.I like to call that an ill informed ego being that if we are hurting others than we are kinda shooting ourselves in the foot so it really is of little benefit to us.A fully informed ego will see that ones success is dependent on the success of those around them and will,in its own service,attempt to find a path of expression that benefits the whole.What I like about Paul is that his ego is transparent.I dont trust people who deny their ego or claim to be acting strictly in the service of others as this idea itself proclaims that one knows what is best for others and reeks of hidden ego.
 
paul wheaton
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The truly humble contemplate the word "ego" for personal growth. The wicked throw the word around as a weapon used to shame others into compliance.


 
Judith Browning
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paul wheaton wrote:The truly humble contemplate the word "ego" for personal growth. The wicked throw the word around as a weapon used to shame others into compliance.


I think I would substitute something else for 'wicked' but it's your quote and nicely said.
 
Robert Ray
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i find that some confuse confidence and competence as ego. I think that you can have both and not be egotistical.
 
Paul Badon
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There are a lot of Sociopaths that to varying degrees have what they think is self esteem(ego) . A clue to the difference is if people avoid you,get a glazed look in their eyes when you talk to them. You know with out a doubt you could rule the world and it would be a better place. Then you should honestly do a self examination if you don't find any thing wrong then you are a Sociopath .
 
Tyler Ludens
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Judith Browning wrote:
I think I would substitute something else for 'wicked' but it's your quote and nicely said.


Maybe something like "insecure." I think it's usually insecurity that makes people lash out at others who exhibit more confidence. If they were truly secure they would feel no need to attack others. It's possible to be humble without being insecure or fearful. Self-criticism, the ability to question oneself and one's motives and actions, does not necessarily mean a lack of confidence, and as Paul Badon points out, is a healthy thing in the right degree. This isn't the same as being full of doubt and fear, certainly.
 
Kelson Water
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recently i heard something about the shadow side of conciousness, and the person talking about it said that the concious aspect of our minds identifies as "i" while the unconcious aspect of our minds, including the shadow side, is "we." ( i think there is more to relationships than only the shadow, though.)

i don't really ever wonder on my own if my ego is lacking or offensive in someway - could any other person

ever say anything about me and be more accurate about their assessment of my own mind than me? i don't know.


somehow, i wonder if this thread is realted to money or better yet, what money represents to me, food security.

-ah hem- there is money to be made in permaculture. sharing ideas and experience _is _socially valuable (generous) and also could indirectly help others make more money on their own and/or be more food secure in the long run.

however, there would be no value in the idea of 'permaculture' without the experiences of many, many people and cultures.

it's highly appreciated by me that some individuals are being spokespersons for permaculture. some people are probably better at being spokespersons than others. (oh well-guess i will have to figure out another way to make money.) i think it is important to remember that either no one owns the ideas of permaculture or everyone does. it may be helpful and even socially and economically lucrative for indivduals and communities to be familiar with its practices-espically these days-- hipsters become farmers, and church (community hub) becomes a sliding scale cafe, garden and library.

to have created this forum created the oppurtunity for many to connect and learn from others.

it feels fine with me that someone is making money with this website, which allows others to share ideas and experences for free.

so maybe there are some unspoken issues/insecurity that came up whenever someone else said you had a big ego, within that relationship, maybe questions are coming up between you two
if it is 'ok' to make money off of being a spokesperson and hosting a website for permaculture.

for what's it's worth, i think its great that you are making money from providing a valuable service.

however, maybe the only people who need to see the data results of 'ranking' permaculture teachers based on number of google searches are your potential sponsors.


i just feel kind of lonely after reading stuff like that. i don't know why. and no, i am not a permaculture teacher right now, i have only a beginning practice of permaculture, so i think it's different than feeling jealous.


Namaste, Kelson

 
Rufus Laggren
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Seems to me that permaculture - or anything really - needs a whole lot of different kinds of people. We can't contribute much if we try to bend and twist and avoid being ourselves. No need, either - we do our best when we don't waste time judging.

Our job is to be ourself - it's our responsibility and nobody else can do it. The community's job is to render feed back. A cheer, a dope slap, it's all grist for the mill. Feathers will naturally get ruffled and triumphs celebrated. Maybe that's why somebody told you (sometime, somewhere I'm sure) to pick your friends carefully and only hang out w/the right kind of people. Cuz you gotta rely on them for stuff like this.

Rufus
 
Clarissa Logsdon
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I've learned that selfishness is a healthy thing (to a degree of course). Everything is healthy in moderation. If you are a completely non-selfish person, then you're always using what you have to help others. Which is good and all, but once you're all spent out, what good are you then?

Bottom line, if you can't help yourself, be proud of yourself, splurge a little on yourself, and be overall healthy and glowing with "ego/confidence/competence/self-esteem/charisma/high-energy/positive attitude/etc/etc"...

...Then what good are you to anyone else?

Also, if you're always giving and giving, some people will take advantage of you and take and take from you.

There just has to be a healthy balance of give and take.
 
Rufus Laggren
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once you're all spent out, what good are you then?


I think the belief holds that you receive back 10 fold, real time. My own experience kinda supports that. But it depends somewhat on "believing" and that means committing yourself and that's pretty scary.


Rufus
 
Rick Larson
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paul wheaton wrote:The truly humble contemplate the word "ego" for personal growth. The wicked throw the word around as a weapon used to shame others into compliance.




That's right.

Well, I've been labeled that from time to time as well. Since this is your website, and I like it...
 
Clarissa Logsdon
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Rufus Laggren wrote:
once you're all spent out, what good are you then?


I think the belief holds that you receive back 10 fold, real time. My own experience kinda supports that. But it depends somewhat on "believing" and that means committing yourself and that's pretty scary.


Rufus


You can only really "receive" the reward if you are ready to accept it though, I think. If you're too down, too depressed, too spent, too used: would you even be able to recognize what you've received in order to claim it? This is really hard to try to explain.
 
G. Cream
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I agree with Paul in context to the Dalai Lama, in the fact that if he is speaking then he is displaying ego, yet he professes the practice of eliminating and overcoming ego.

It seems as though we have created a polarized decision in reference to having "ego," or being free from it. To have an ego would mean to take on a sense of individuality and autonomy, but to be free of ego would mean we are participating in wholeness and interconnectedness. It's as if we have limited the concept to "either/or" rationale. EITHER you can be separate from the world around you OR you can be connected in the wholeness of everything at all time.

In the attempt to seek balance, maybe we need to operate in a manner that encourages "separate connectedness." So, we will empathize with an individual who is sick and suffering, yet not to a degree that if that individual dies we can no longer live ourselves.
 
Aaron McCarty
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I think the term "ego" is often used wrongheadedly.

As has been pointed out here, in order to say anything (or type anything) you have to have an "ego." Right, that voice in your head that is dictating what you type is your ego. We all have it. You have to have an ego to communicate as an individual to other individuals.

There is such a thing as a healthy ego and likewise a dysfunctional ego. A healthy ego can listen to the opinions of others, contemplate the information, and regurgitate an opinion based on that contemplation. An unhealthy ego cannot do that. The unhealthy ego will simply not listen and then carry on with it's rigid program. A healthy ego can admit when it's wrong. A healthy ego cares about the well being of others.

I think the antidote to ego is humility. Contemplate what it means to be humble and you can figure out if your ego is out of control or not. The Dali Lama has an ego, and he would not say otherwise. He would also say that if you can't love yourself than you can't love anybody else. If you can't help yourself than you can't help anybody else. What could appear to be more egotistical than to commit yourself to meditation as a lifestyle as Buddhist monks do? You are involved with yourself and only yourself while sitting in meditation. Yet, it's also the most selfless act possible because it's done (properly at least) in an effort to eradicate suffering.

I think the disconnect here would be one of jargon. The term "ego" has many nuanced and subtle contexts. Simply put, usually if you are called "egotistical" it's because somebody thinks you are acting like an ass. This may or may not be true. I suppose it depends on the person flingin' the moniker. Maybe they are just insecure, or maybe you are an ass, or maybe it's some combination (most likely).

The bottom line is that we are all egotistical due to the fact that we must have an ego to communicate. It's just...are you actively participating in temperance and humility? If you aren't than there is room for you to be less egotistical. I think it's really a matter of unspoken communication. If you are an ass than people will see you as an ego, if you genuinely care about other people, than you're probably just fine...where egoic health is concerned.
 
Dale Hodgins
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This reminds me of our discussion about greed. In my experience, the same people who launch attacks on anyone successful by calling them greedy, will also claim that an over inflated ego is at the root of it all. They equate piety with poverty and see high self esteem as something that is in need of fixing so that we may all be equal.

There are some people who allow an over inflated ego to negatively affect everyone around them. Many horrible despots have taken whole societies to war in pursuit of ego affirmation. Millions of little despots control their spouse's and children's lives in every detail and it could be argued that many of these people suffer from an inflated or damaged ego.

But, I think that most discussion of ego is just chatter by those who are unsure of themselves. They feel threatened by those who exude confidence.
 
Clifford Gallington
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I have one ego, it is kept on the back porch by the snow shovel
 
Philip Moseman
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1714 the physical self (metaphysics explains physical world from outside of physical world)
1800 excessive appreciation of oneself (egotism)
1894 the self as opposed to the subconcious, the ego is diseased by subconcious desires (psycho-analytics/Freud)
1969 ego trip - a course of action that enhances and satisfies the ego

I suspect having a "big ego" means seeing yourself as more than just a person, including the objects you own, your land, and people you influence, and controlling those things for your own beneifit. The president might get a big ego, thinking himself as more than simply a man holding an office that has to work hard to live up to expectations. A big ego might be more like a delusion of grandeur, when you really aren't that powerful/smart, you have just been handed some power/information/wealth.

You probably make people feel inferior, or think you have abilities and fail to see other people's abilities or appreciate what they've accomplished. That sort of thing.

"Losing your ego" is going to mean you aren't concerned with what happens, and you are going to let other people decide what goes on. When you think about how coincidental it is that you are where you happen to be, and see yourself as a part of a whole, and empathize with others even when they are disagreeable. Giving up your power in order to stay humble, accepting your lot in life.

What do people hope to accomplish by telling you to rid yourself of an ego? They see you as part of the collective that you are part of and need to get you to see it. Once you are free of egos, nobody will suffer or undermine one another to get ahead. Which actually sounds more like losing your id, rather than your ego. I doubt most people are truly involved in such a noble pursuit.

That is what I figure. I came here asking the same question. A person without ego is willing to give up everything.
It seems like a word people use for a variety of different meanings that are diffiicult to determine, they may use it without being able to explain what they mean.
 
Oaka Lent
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We all have to nurture our egos in different ways, some methods are less socially acceptable than others. If we are here to be to feel accepted socially, we are wasting our energies. Getting the ideas accepted socially, now that's worthwhile. Unfortunately the ideas presented by a person that comes across as less socially acceptable, may not get taken seriously. That only matters if we care about manipulating mass psychology, and that leads to bad things. If we are all genuine and passionate, the beauty of our unique qualities flourish and encourage others to flourish. Our individual unique qualities may not harmonize with every situation, but in the situations where they do harmonize, awesome results.
 
duane hennon
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Jennifer Wadsworth
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I wonder at how often it's the "doers" - the people that actually get up off their butts and experiment and fail and try again and keep going - that get called "egoists". And who is calling them that? In my experience (because I, myself have an ego and I happen to be ok with that and acknowledge it) - it's usually the folks who haven't gotten their hands dirty who are making the "ego" call - they don't recognize the work and all the many intricacies of making something like what you have going on here, work. Or maybe they tried something, failed and decided to fold instead of grabbing that incredible learning opportunity, examining it from all angles and giving it another shot, or two (or infinity). When they see you have the ego and the energy to persist, they feel they need to call you out.

In my completely non-humble opinion, one has to have a good knowledge of "self", of "ego" to peruse one's dreams and see them through to some kind of fruition. In a society where everything is a "specialty" these days, which makes people feel helpless about their own abilities, I believe more than a few people take to the internet to become armchair critics of the few who are "doers". In other words, I think calling "ego" has become somewhat of a blood sport of the frustrated.

Paul - I can't state this too emphatically - you couldn't have accomplished what you've accomplished here without having an ego. I don't know you other than from what's posted on this site, but it doesn't seem like you are out to hurt anyone, degrade anyone, etc. Quite the opposite. So thank goodness for your ego!

Now get back to work! =)
 
Dawn Hoff
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I haven't read all of the replies. But ego in itself is nothing bad, we all have - a sense of self. The Buddhists try to quit having it because they think it gets in the way of escaping the world (they see the world as pain and desperation).

Now in psychology there is a distinction between self-confidence and self-esteem. High self-confidence means that you know that you are good at something, or that what you do does a lot of good to someone. A high-self esteem comes from knowing that you are enough, you don't need to do something special or be "someone" to be OK. High-self confidence with low self-esteem usually leads to an inflated ego. They are usually not very nice people to be around. Low-self confidence with low self-esteem, leads to people being doormats - constant excuses for them selves. High-self esteem can be combined with both high self-confidence and low self-confidence (which we all will have in some areas), and still be nice traits: Because the person with high-self confidence don't need to belittle themselves or others for not being on the same path in life, knowing the same thing or wanting the same thing. The Dali Lama strikes me as a person with incredibly high self-esteem - and I think that if you have such a high self-esteem the ego doesn't have to take up
Much space or energy in your life, you are content with being...

Most of us are somewhere in between - where you are I have no idea, as I have only seen a few videos with you.
 
Mateo Chester
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In my opinion, it's all about your intent. If you're being egotistical about something that does so much good for so many people, such as Permaculture, then rock that ego. I think people who give you a hard time about your ego, should check their own. It brings far more good than harm in this specific case. I think anyone who complains about your ego wishes they were you, and that just sucks for them. Keep on keepin' on, Paul. Your efforts have changed my life in so many ways for the exponentially better.. Many, many thanks from the bottom of my heart. Namaste.
 
Julia Winter
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I'm enjoying the website of Mr. Money Mustache these days: I was referred there by Erica at Northwest Edible (whom I discovered via Paul's podcasts--so there you go!). He has a lot of terrific posts, but this one about the power of optimism seems pertinent here: "The Practical Benefits of Outrageous Optimism"

I think one of the things that complainy-pants people react badly to is Paul's optimism. He quite clearly chooses to focus on changing the world rather than "being mad at bad people," and this is powerful stuff. Powerful stuff makes some (insecure) people uncomfortable. Some of them lash out using whatever handy terms occur to them. "Excess Ego" is one of those.

Anyway, Pete at http://www.mrmoneymustache.com has a high opinion of himself, and for good reason. He managed to save more than half of his income for several years and quit his tech job seven years ago. He has a rather popular website and has developed a marvelous community of readers that support each other in becoming more "mustachian" by buying less crap, biking instead of driving, and saving most of your income with an eye towards early retirement.
 
fiona smith
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hey paul. if people say you have a big ego and you dont feel diminished then what is left is who you are...

so repeat after US........... WE ARE WE ARE WE ARE!








OHM

 
duane hennon
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I hope nobody took the Mac Davis video too seriously
i just couldn't resist...


some people because they have such poor interpersonal skills
come off as assholes whether they have big egos or not
being friendly and respectful goes a long way when trying to get your point across

I think Paul's ego is fine
and so is his "bedside manor"

see here for comparison
http://www.salon.com/2013/09/26/study_everyone_hates_environmentalists_and_feminists_partner

a lot of big egos there, with very few interpersonal skills
 
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