What does ‘Ego’ mean?
Ego is a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance. From a psychoanalysis perspective, it is the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.
So do we need an ego to be successful and how can our ego harm us or people around us?
From my standpoint, yes AND no. I believe that if you can learn to identify when the ego is taking over and when your conscious self is in control, that is fine.
So let’s talk about why having an ego can be relevant, especially in sales/business.
Firstly, having an ego CAN sometimes push you to work harder and strive towards your goals, because your self-importance is very high. I have seen, time and time again, people who have incredibly big egos become successful, but the most successful people in all aspects of life know how to quieten the ego when needed. Take Mike Tyson for example. Everyone knows who Mike Tyson is and anyone that followed him in his prime or watched his fights back in the day, his ego was out of control. Subsequently, this is what made him the best boxer of his era. Of course, there were so many other aspects involved as to why he was so successful but in recent years he has admitted that his ego is what drove him to train as hard as he did and perform the way he did in the ring. Anyone that looked at him wrong or said anything about him, he felt his ego was threatened and used this to excel in boxing. Some people, however, have such high opinions of themselves and believe they are above people and put everything into their work whilst crapping on the people below them to make them feel even more important. Ultimately, having an ego CAN help you stop doubting your capabilities, help you face your fears and help you be bold and determined in low times.
So we have gone through how having an ego can help, but what are the ramifications of having a big ego in the workplace? Having a massive ego can be detrimental in the workplace, especially if you are in a position of power/leadership because your thought process can become delusional. You will often hear people with huge egos say things like “I am always right” or “I am never wrong” and sometimes you may hear “I don’t need advice from you”. Sometimes the need to win or succeed can become overbearing and harm the relationships you have with people around you. People with big egos often try to make everything about them, they show off, redirect the conversation about them and put others down to make themselves feel better. So if you are in sales or a business leader, your ego can help you strive to win and also create a delusional thought process and harm the relationships you have.
So to round this off, how do you identify when the ego is in control and when it does take over, what is a good way to quieten it down?
Well as I have mentioned, people with big egos are trying to make themselves feel better, usually because they have with low self-esteem or low confidence and use the ego as a mask to hide their true feelings. So notice yourself when you are trying to put people down, make it all about you and brag about what you have done. Don’t get me wrong, it's great to talk about your successes, what you are going to achieve and turn the conversation about yourself but it needs to be the right context. If you are talking about these things to help inspire, motivate or train someone, great! But if you are saying these things to make yourself feel better about who you are, then that is the negative side of the ego coming out to play. So you may notice where this is going, it is all about self-awareness… something I could sit here and write another blog about but let me just explain how you can build self-awareness over time and understand yourself more.
5 tips for gaining more self-awareness to control your ego.
- 10minutes of conscious breathing and observing your thoughts and trying to understand yourself further
- Reflect on your day objectively each night
- Practice meditation/mindfulness habits
- Ask friends/family to describe you
- Get into the habit of asking for feedback