5 Strategies to Get Your Ego Out of the Way and Get Stuff Done
Ego is defined as a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. We know self-esteem plays a major part in our success. Whether we are starting our first job or have built an empire, the belief we have in our ability to achieve success is deemed as a main contributing factor. We need to believe in ourselves to succeed. But when does our sense of self-importance get in the way of our success? Does it prevent us from connecting and leading our people, creating goals to get to the next level or keeping up with the fast pace of progress and learn a new skill?
In my practice, we work with very successful entrepreneurs to identify and overcome obstacles, both on the business/financial side and the people side, that get in the way of their continued success. I was recently introduced to Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, which focuses on the definition of ego being “an unhealthy belief in our own importance; arrogance.” For anyone experiencing a roadblock in front of their next level of success, the book offers some tough love to think about.
1. Silence can breed accomplishment.
When we talk about all the amazing things we’re going to do next, it’s possible to spend all our time and energy just talking about it and never actually doing anything towards that goal. Talking makes us feel like we’re making progress towards the goal. Does this ring a bell for anyone? How are your new year’s resolutions going for you? We all have big goals, and they are hard and scary, so it’s natural that we want to do everything except what we need to do. If we stop talking about them and focus our energy and wrestle with the action, we might move forward.
2. Is it about the doing or the recognition?
Often times we fall in love with the image of what success looks like, but what we need to do to get there is usually not so glamourous. We should ask ourselves: what is our purpose? What do we want to accomplish?
3. Become a student.
Ego can prevent us from continuing to learn and improve by making us believe we don’t need to. Learning a technical or soft skill, in our industry or not, allows us to continue to evolve. You can’t get better if you think you are the best. Learning something new is hard, humbling, and puts our ego in check. Stepping out of our comfort zone to learn something new or be open to constructive criticism and even failure is the embodiment of getting out of our comfort zone which will only make us better leaders.
4. Getting out of your own head.
If ego is confidence, it can get in the way of our ability to lead and make decisions. Ego tells us the world is looking at us. In our social media driven society, where the more “likes” we get the more important we feel, it’s easy to be paralyzed by your next decision. Are we too concerned about how many “likes” and viewers our posts, articles, vlogs, podcasts and whatever else is out there get to live in the now? Are we too in love with the vision of our self that prevents us from what we need to do and make the necessary decision to reach our goal?
While we should always be cognizant of the difference between being busy and work, there is no substitute for hard work. Work doesn’t end once we get our big break; some might say that’s when the real work starts. Ego is what counts the hours we’ve put into something and asks when are we going to see the fruits of our labor. Work is a life long journey whose light cannot dim once we achieved some success; there, we fall in the grips of ego.
I never recognized the roadblock described above as a symptom of my own arrogance. In fact, like a lot of people I work really hard to build my confidence and believe that I can actually be successful. But in my own self-reflection, I realized much of that might be holding me back from accomplishing my goals and doing big things. What has been your experience walking the thin line of earned confidence and ego? How do you know when you’re being confident or arrogant?
Individual egos vary. With that, the approach to how we leverage our ego varies, too. When experiencing a roadblock to what’s “next,” and there is no real black or white reasoning as to why, perhaps a review of these five elements can help determine if your ego is getting in your way.
(By Adriana Puente. Puente is an Associate of The Rawls Group, a business succession planning firm. Puente specializes in dealing with the issues that must be resolved by business owners to implement succession strategies geared towards building business value.)