The End of the Ego Trip

Written on Wednesday, March 7th, 2012 at 2:50 pm by Adaire
Filed under Sharing Success.

You want to know what every businessperson’s worst enemy is? No, it’s not their main competitor. It’s not an angry customer, either. If there’s one thing that can single-handedly destroy any businessperson’s hard-earned accomplishments, it’s ego.

I’ll admit that I’ve had those moments when I felt that I could do no wrong. There were times when I’ve acted pretty stubbornly in front of my business associates, insistent that my opinions were far more valid than theirs. Looking back on it now, I’m pretty embarrassed for being so bullheaded, especially since some of these ideas didn’t turn out to be as effective as I thought.

The sooner I stopped letting my ego take over, the better! :)

The Ego Has Landed

Image by: AscensionDigital

If you were able to start your business purely from scratch, if you were able to get your Doctorate degree before turning 30, or if you were able to make your first million way sooner than you thought, there’s a good chance that you’d think pretty highly of yourself.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t take pride in your achievements. You should definitely feel good about yourself. You should use this to boost your confidence and encourage you to take on even greater challenges. What you shouldn’t do, however, is to let this pride swallow you whole. Don’t let it make you feel absolutely invincible, or allow you to think that other people are less knowledgeable by default.

Think back to your very first office job when you were fresh out of school. There’s a good chance that one of your higher ups was some busybody who always insisted on getting his way, and that his stubbornness annoyed the beeswax out of you! :) Sounds familiar? Those kinds of people are a dime a dozen in the business world, yet they’re the ones whose careers can only go so far. You don’t want to be part of this crowd!

A Slice of Humble Pie

In order to tame your ego, or to keep your head from inflating in the first place, you have to accept two facts. First, that you are not, and never will be, the center of the universe; and second, that other people, regardless of whether their resumes don’t look as good as yours, possess valuable opinions and actually know things that you don’t. In other words, you’ve got to eat that slice of humble pie…and like it. :)

I recently read this hilarious story in Healthy Wealthy nWise that really brings this message home. Ivan Misner—who, apart from being a networking phenom, is such a brilliant and engaging writer—has this article entitled “Why Make All the Mistakes When We Can Learn from Others,” and I have to say that it is spot-on! In it, Misner narrates all the hi-jinks he had to go through after getting stung by a Portuguese Man o’War jellyfish. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the story for you—it got me laughing so hard, and I’m sure you’ll love it, too.

I insist, however, on quoting his reflection after the jellyfish incident:

“I made one of the biggest mistakes that people in business make – I didn’t listen to the people who have experience. I assumed that I just had to know better… and the truth is, I didn’t know better.

There is nothing like experience. It beats education every day of the week. The only thing better is a combination of education and experience… or a willingness to learn from other people’s experience.”

Think about it: have you experienced everything there is to experience in this world? Of course not! Nobody has, and nobody ever will, and that is a truth that everyone has to readily embrace. People have to accept that they will get things wrong sometimes, and that the only way to get the right answers is to depend on other people.

Some people call this “humility,” and others call this “common sense.” :)

Breaking Bad (Habits!)

Image by: Ambro

People who have become so used to being egotistical, however, may claim that this bad habit has become far too ingrained into who they are and how they live, so much so that they can’t break out of it. They may claim that their “me first” attitude is something that already comes to them instantly, automatically.

These people are kidding themselves. There’s no such thing as not being able to break out of a bad habit, and whoever tells you otherwise is likely just reluctant to change. In truth, not only can you break out of a bad habit, but you can avoid this habit for the rest of your life.

If it were up to me, I would require every bullheaded businessman out there to read Angel Alvaro’s compelling “Can You Ever Break a Bad Habit for Good?”, which I first came across in Healthy Wealthy nWise. Alvaro says that there are four key things a person should do in order to wriggle out of the bind they put themselves in: welcome criticism; judge themselves as they judge others; have willpower; and be patient.

The first suggestion—to welcome criticism—is especially important, considering what I’ve been rambling about since the start of this entry. :) I honestly believe that once you’re able to handle anything remotely negative about yourself, you will have the ability to be an outstanding businessman—someone who is unafraid to try new things, and can readily pick himself up and dust himself off whenever times get tough.

L’eggo my Ego!

Remember: the next time somebody questions your decisions, don’t immediately think of it as a mean jab at your credibility. Neither should you bolster your authority simply because you have many awards on your mantelpiece and several platinum credit cards in your wallet.

If you want to be a good businessman, you have to be an open-hearted and open-minded person. Yes, you can be a strict boss, but that doesn’t give you license to be an out-and-out dictator who can only listen to the sound of his own voice. Be open to communication and collaboration. Place value in the fact that your employees have their own unique experiences that can contribute positively to the company. Not only will your workers love you for it, but you’ll soon find yourself gaining ground in your industry faster than you’d ever expect!


Images by: AscensionDigital / and Ambro /

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