Thursday, July 3, 2008

On initiative, passion and man's ego

Some time ago I asked the question: “Is initiative the key to growth?” I think that if you put a stick in the river it will get to the end of the river. If you put yourself in any situation such as a job, you will grow because you will be carried forward or made to grow by your environment. At the same time if you take control of the process, i.e. take “initiative” you will grow faster, better, stronger than you would otherwise.

If you are interested in a particular domain lets say football you will take the initiative time and again to learn about it while enjoying your hobby of following football.

So one’s interest and a much stronger word: one’s passion helps one take initiative.

What drives one’s passion?

According to a behavioral model by Freud the mind is divided into a horizontal cross-section and vertical cross-section. The horizontal cross section is as follows:
1) Subconscious mind: those things you cannot make sense of, but you do. For example one’s preference for the color grey.
2) Preconscious mind: those things that can come to your awareness easily or with some difficulty. Example: Why you think person X is the right person to marry.
3) Conscious mind: Those things that are available to you without any effort. Eg: I like person X because he has done some thing good Y.

A vertical cross section is:
1) Id: It works on the pleasure principle. You want to do something because it gives you utility in the form of giving you pleasure. Children act on this all the time when they insist that they want chocolate, water, that they want to sleep, etc. Eros and Aggression come from this area of the mind.
2) Super-ego: This works on the idealistic principle. You want to do something because it pertains to an ideal. An example for some is doing banking only through Islamic banking.
3) Ego: (Not “anna” -urdu): This works on the realistic principle. Helps you reconcile the Id and Super-ego with the real world. You see a beggar and want to give him money but can not do so because you need money to take the bus home.

So coming back to the question: what drives one’s passion?
I think the answer is: the id or the super-ego.

What if a person is not passionate about something and still has to get the job done? What does he do?
The answer is that you jump in the field and “just do it” even if you are going to do it poorly. For example I have always found it difficult to say my prayers because I have felt that for one to pray five times a day you have to not only be very disciplined but you also have to say your prayers with utmost concentration as if you were meditating. Today it was made clear to me that to go ahead and say your prayers even if you have a thousand thoughts about the most meaningless things going in your head is better than to not pray. The reason being that you intend to talk to God, dedicate that time for HIM and this intention alone makes it worth something.

On a last note:
From your school days till today you must have heard the following phrases: “you should excel” or that “I want to out compete others” or “win a game of chess/cricket/football”, “be the first in class”, “become the CEO”. If these phrases are familiar to you did you ever think what they point towards?

I think it is this: “Because I am number 1 and innately AM better than anybody I want to out compete.”

According to Ayn Rand: “Man’s ego is the fountainhead of human progress”. (This is a different use of the word ego than that used by Freud.)