Peter Corbett’s Ego
“At the end of June this year I retired from the company I had founded. Being a 38 year old retiree has its perks for sure, but I’m assuming most people don’t have a perspective on the challenges associated with giving up the profession/status/context/wealth-generation-machine that they’d been managing for decades. In fact, this is a devilishly difficult thing to do for one super complicated reason: we subconsciously construct an Ego that enables us in the journey we set out for — and that Ego doesn’t just go away over night. It fights you— till its death or yours, and usually wins.”
Peter Corbett on his Massive Ego – The Year My Ego Died (+18 Book Recommendations)
Peter Corbett is a unique and talented man. A man who has achieved numerous accolades and some of them were not self-awarded, including being named Mr. January in the 2019 Clowns and Crooks of DCTech Calendar. At 38 years old he successfully exited (with no sarcasm like when I say Evan Burfield or Danny Boice exited from a company) from a genuinely impressive company that he built on the back of impressive creativity, hard work, intelligence and an ego so big that it’s gravitational force often interferes with the tides.
Yet, to paraphrase Peter, I’m a rich frigging, under-forty, retired baron of business. Which afforded him the luxury to explore his Ego and his Id. Last year, he embarked on a journey of self-enlightenment. He’s freed himself of his ego, restored hearing to his tone (no longer tone death) and with these obstacles out of the way, I think he and I can be friends again (see these posts, Peter Corbett in His Own Words, The Two Worlds of DCTech and Peter Corbett the Grudge that Keeps on Giving).
With Peter Corbett’s, ego, now fully in check… I’m confident that he will welcome my reprinting some of his thoughts as I honor his opus and ode to his personal enlightenment. So first there was this tweet.
Peter, is about to be our master as we lowly pilgrims push on to our own enlightenment and self-discovery. Sit back play padawan to his Master Yoda. We grasshoppers are about to learn how master Peter buried his ego. Master Corbett, I am putty in your able hands. Opine Peter! Opine away!
According to his post, killing one’s ego is a simple 3 step program… 9 steps short of a 12 step program. Good for me because I have like zero attention span and I’ve never been able to get the twelfth step of anything. Also, in his defense of Peter’s enlightenment plan, it does require reading 18 books and embarking on some grueling road trips. The steps:
- Recognize your life is subject to cyclical change, and finally death
- Recognize your Ego is not YOU
- Work to dismantle your Ego
He then goes on to explain that besides those 3 simple steps and reading those 18 books, one might consider a few additional “experiences.” Or in his words,
I needed certain BIG experiences in order to kill off my Ego once and for all.
These simple tasks that anyone should be able to do include:
Travel to Borneo and Tame a Circus Lion
Ayahuasca ceremonies with 20 other entrepreneurs in Costa Rica
Sing the part of Brunhild in the Opera Der Ring at La Scala
Travel to London to officiate and attend a Royal Wedding
Baptized in Jamaica and attend a Ted Talk Session where he was not a speaker (Peter listening to anyone while not talking? Now that’s some death of ego there. Kudos!)
As you no doubt notice these are simple activities that every egoless human, no matter their means, social position, or verbal flatulence level should be able to accomplish, providing they were egoless successfully exited multi-millionaire with no responsibilities, nothing but time on their hands, you know just about anyone. Other activities included:
- One month traveling through Europe
- Stream all 5 seasons of Downtown Abbey
- Attend a Liza Minelli Concert
- One summer month in Montauk admiring the sunsets
- A Yoga Retreat in Chiang Mai
- Breastfeed a goat
- A 1,000-mile motorcycle tour in the mountains of Vietnam (pictured in the tweet above)
And that’s it. That simple and voilà Peter Corbett’s ego evaporated (don’t believe me? read his post. That’s some egoless, Mr-In-Touch-With-Everyman mystical shit!). So I leave you with two thoughts, the first in Corbett’s own words,
So…my time is no longer spent thinking much about the future, or much about the past or much about “I” or “me”.
And you can see by this blog that he is living the life of the other… he has completely left his I (a word he only uses 39 times in this egoless post) and his me (used only 9 times in the post) in the frozen tundra of a frozen mountain in Poland. I’m sure now that his ego is totally in remission, he will unblock people from twitter (like me) who damaged the ego he no longer has). He is now one with the universe only focused on the great problems of the world. A tone-deaf, egoless, nonempathetic, tortured soul of a guru!
My second thought? Is there any man more suitable to step in for the retired most interesting man in the world! Peter, I am very impressed with you bro! Cheers!
I thought I’d also include few excerpts of comments left on Peter’s blog before he erases them.
Andrew Krawchyk – Dec 11
I’ll make an unsolicited addition to your list of thoughts that could cross your mind when you’re not feeling at ease:
“I should post about my ‘ego death’ on Medium.”
Maybe you aren’t at ease after all… Try more Ayahuasca?
I tried and tried and tried not to but the more people asked about what I was reading and how things were changing, I felt that a post…just one little post…wouldn’t be so bad.
David Johnson – Dec 12
Recall, the buddah does not tell us his journey, he doesn’t make it about him. he teaches us what he learned on his journey. The “way” is a framework, a guide, but our journeys are our own. The wheel is simple and elegant, which is why it diverged into so many other traditions and infused others.
Your recent journey — a year where you went to TED, you rode a motorcycle a thousand miles, you attended lush retreats — is one of huge privilege afforded by wealth. It does not speak to the suffering of attachment, because while you sold your business, you detached from nothing. Siddartha did not sell his kingdom and retire on the profits to travel a path to find himself on a narcissistic journey. He left it all behind and walked away barefoot without a penny in his pocket never to return. Of course you earned your money through your hard work, but as people often put it now, it is a humble brag. The suffering of fear for basic needs like housing or food is not known to one who has money to put gas in an expensive motorcycle or knows there’s a bank roll waiting for them back home. Most people lose their ego by having it crushed going through the suffering that you have financially escaped, people profit from their suffering. Could you have found your enlightenment without a motorcycle and walking barefoot as all the impoverished practitioners do who live along the path you walked?
Your ego didn’t die. What you did was reinvent your ego.
Sorry if this is a buzzkill, truly. But among the many praises you are receiving for broadcasting this, feeding your new ego, and a life and career spent interacting with others or building reputations for yourself, your company or your clients, a burr in the saddle is only a thought to ponder about how my ego needs people to tell me my list of books and cool trips I took made me more awesomer when I lost my identity — which is what really died.
Karma Yoga. Man what a trip.
What I take from your response David — as you’re my teacher in this moment and I’m the student — is this:
1) I have judged people from afar over the internet and need to be careful not to do so in the future. A post is a grain of sand on the beach of someone’s life. It’s hard to make too many conclusions about them from that grain…especially as it blows in the wind and gets swept out to sea, and isn’t really their grain anyway. I can feel this from your response. I can feel the desire to refute your, or share what I “really know” or have “really been through” but that’s all just protecting some kind of persona anyway so what’s the point?
2) It’s easy to confuse a reader with fancy stories of adventure and the intention can be lost. In this instance: the intention is to share some books that have been helpful to me and might be to others. Perhaps this post was only useful to the one person who emailed me who’s dying of cancer and thanked me for the list and could relate to my story of ego death. Her email makes the potential pain of any other kind of response worth it.
3) My desire to share what I know remains a desire I’m attached to. It’s a tough one. On the one hand I can see it clearly as a desire attached to this “teacher” or “leader” like character I’ve most often played in life — and therefore I should share/teach much less to transcend that. I deleted Snapchat, IG, dramatically reduced Twitter and FB and almost never blog. I thought that was progress. It was much less projecting out “Peter” in any way. But then the other side of this duality rears its head — which made itself evident in #3: there are moments when I can help alleviate suffering. I do it every day in person — why not try online? This post was an attempt at that. It worked. And didn’t. Which is the nature of things. So to stop teaching or sharing all together…I just don’t know that that’s the right thing. Perhaps it’s that I haven’t shared properly yet.
Thank you for taking the time to teach me something…after all “I’m am only an egg.” -Valentine Michael Smith (from Stranger in a Strange Land)
Rodrigo Thauby – Dec 12
I think we should all strive to listen more and talk (or share) less. I know for a fact I’m real bad at it, but I’m trying. Having said that…
With all due respect, Peter, this post (and your responses) have to be some of the most tone-deaf things I’ve witnessed from someone I know. I believe it may not be your intention to do so, but I feel like I should say my piece.
Thank you for your honesty Rodrigo! I continue to be fascinated by how one post can be seen completely differently by different people. It was both tone-deaf and completely tone-on at the same time. Who knew!?
Mr. Cranky’s Response to Peter’s Response to Rodrigo
Yes, Peter, who knew? Any empathetic, non-tone-deaf, evolved human… knew and knows.