Lameness Tests – A Remedy For Ego Poisoning
Chuck Rhodes is a character in the hit TV Show Billions… and in the show he has a secret… a dark secret. He’s into some very dark and kinky bedroom stuff but as a campaigning politician this is obviously a problem.
To be a politician you have to project leadership and competency. You need to build an image of respect and credibility – professing your deep-held desire to be spanked in the bedroom does not fit in with this image.
Spoiler Alert: in the show there comes a point where he must admit this tendency publicly… and instead of shying from the fight, he owns and admits his little secret.
We talked about status games recently – games many of us are wired to play because of our wiring, our natural-selection-induced tendency to promote status in order to attract the best mating partners.
This is where the trophy wife and the sugar daddy come from…
Of course status can come as a byproduct of other work you’re doing or goals you’re pursuing – you might get attention from your mission-led business venture taking off or run for a leadership position that enables you to help people.
The biggest trap is playing status games for the sake of playing them – of status being the most significant and important metric to you, of it being the biggest game you are playing, as this is a game which poisons the ego.
How Lameness Is A Remedy
Did you know I’m a lover of most Disney music? Did you know that I’ve been friendzoned by girls? Did you know that I am an average-at-best soccer player who often takes games too seriously?
Like Rhodes and his sex habits, this information doesn’t build an impressive image of me (in any obvious way at least). These things are not ‘cool’ or admirable and don’t point to my credibility or sophistication.
Yet they are disarming. Being open about the lame in us lets the air out of our ego balloon, keeps us grounded, and avoids us taking ourselves too seriously.
Lameness Helps Foster Detachment
When we don’t take ourselves too seriously, a weight is lifted from our lives. It’s that feeling you have when you’re on holiday, which feels so light because no one has any expectations or demands on you at this time.
Including yourself. You expect nothing of yourself!
This detached way of being and relating to things is lighter, more fun and playful. It is also healthier. Every now and then I like to do something like this COVID-inspired song parody to remind myself that, at the end of the day, I am merely a moron.
I find this important when a lot of the work I do is about dense and sophisticated things – a touch of humor, lightness and lameness is needed every now and then. Steven Spielberg watched episodes of Seinfeld at the end of each day of shooting Schindler’s List and you can see how this would have been helpful to take the edge off.
But your lameness test, whatever it might be for you, can be a helpful guard against ego. You don’t need to make a song parody – my favorite ego test is of course none other than…
Some people don’t like attention… but others are terrified by the idea of standing up in front of a loving crowd and singing a famous karaoke song completely out of key. But why?
Is this an audition for X-Factor? Are they being judged and scored on their career in music? No – it’s just a bit of fun. What is it that we fear? Answer; we fear losing status in the face of the crowd. We’re afraid to be seen as being amateur or bad at something.
What uptight ideas we hold of ourselves. If you can’t be lame and own it amongst your friends, you’re holding onto a stiffer idea of yourself than you need to.