There is no more destructive but imperative construct to our existence than Ego. With too little of it we are like a washed out water colour painting, too much and then self destruction is inevitable.
Don’t mistake modesty for a lack of ego either, some of the most outwardly modest people suffer the same malady.
Sir Hubert Wilkins the great polar explorer, ornithologist, pilot, soldier, geographer and photographer is a great example of this. General Sir John Monash , on returning to Australia after WWI eulogised Wilkins as “The bravest man alive” at a large public gathering. He later received a message from Wilkins “begging him not to praise him publicly again.”
And Vilhjalmur Stefanson, a fellow polar explorer met With General Monash later and told the Australian papers:
Sir John Monash seems to agree with me that Wilkins is so aggressively modest that he carries it to a fault. It ought to be enough to hide your light under a bushel without threatening to knock anybody down who wants to take the bushel away.
I think Wilkins hid a large ego under that same bushel, and it is more likely that it was the escape of this ego that he feared more. Wilkins came close on several occasions to destruction, and causing the death of the men and women who served with him but in the end it may have been his strong caring nature that helped keep his ego under that bushel.
A little luck didn’t go astray either.
I have seen several sensei self destruct, believing to much of their own publicity and get summarily purged from their style’s national or international organisation. The ego must be held in check.
The first step must be awareness.