It is often necessary to have a bit of an ego to be successful in life. This gives us the motivation to compete, proves to others our strengths and helps us exceed our previous accomplishments. Unfortunately, though, when we achieve something, our ego often gets bigger. The way we see things can sometimes get altered when our confidence starts to make us seem that we are better than others. Sometimes we can get so caught up in ourselves that we end up paying a price for it. As a result, taking control of our confidence is important.
You will find out where ego originates from and how it can be an obstacle on your road to success. Additionally, in this article, you will learn how to take command of your ego, stay humble and not be dependent or want to hear praise from others so that you can return the favor.
Ego is the desire to gain recognition without working for it
Although we all say that we believe that actions speak louder than words, why do we seek fame and praise from other people, even if we havent even done anything?
This is all courtesy of our ego.
The strive for that popularity and acceptance without even lifting a finger, let alone a helping hand, is called our ego. We may get acknowledged for our achievements, but often times, we want to be recognized before accomplishing anything.
Take, for example, Ulysses S. Grant, a former US president and infamous US Army general. Despite his lack in politics, he won the presidency after the Civil War because of his popularity amongst the army crowd. What he lacked in experience, he made up for in his desire for the ultimate title. That is the definition of an egoist.
Ambition, on the other hand, is built off of real accomplishments. A good example is William Tecumseh Sherman. This general had served in the military with Grant and had been just as successful, but did not have quite the ego. As Abraham Lincolns second term had grew closer, Grant alongside many other egoistic leaders from the military sought after a place in the political election with the help of their reputations. In contrast, Sherman, did not chase after recognition as did the other egoists. He was ambitious, instead, and strived be an even better military leader expert. He strived for excellence in the field, without a single thought about gaining fame from it. Sherman also understood that you cant be good at everything.
Rein in your ego by reminding yourself that theres always more to learn
Epictetus, the ancient Greek philosopher, once stated that, It is impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows. This is also linked directly to our ego. Our stubborn ego makes us believe that we are too smart to learn something new. However, if we dig down deep enough and open up our mind a bit, we can overcome it.
Controlling our ego can be done be reminding ourselves that life is just a never ending class and we are the students that are always in it learning. It doesnt matter if you are considered an expert in an area. You cant let your ego get the best of you, so give yourself a little awakening by thinking about the fact that there is always someone better than you whenever you are feeling a bit too proud.
Kirk Hammett, for example, was asked to join Metallica in 1980 and that is when he got the stage to show off his talents. However, he knew that even though he had become a part of one of the most famous rock bands ever, he still wasnt the greatest and had so much more learning ahead. As a result, he began taking classes from the well-known guitar legend, Joe Satriani, and thus, improved his guitar skills to a much higher level. By training with the incredibly talented Satriani, Hammett restrained his ego from taking over, and thus remained humble.
Finding a very skilled teacher is a great way to remind yourself that you still arent done learning. However, thats not your only option of keeping your ego at bay. You can also become a teacher.
Frank Shamrock, a martial arts expert, applied this method. He thinks that staying humble results from not only learning from top fighters and training with students of the same level, but also from spending some time in the teachers position. This gives them an idea of every position that there is in the sport, and at the same time, helps keep their ego from inflating.
Pride makes us deaf to warnings and blind to things we could improve
What would have happened if some of the greatest inventors this world has ever seen let their first successes get to their head? Would Apple be what it is today if Steve Jobs had given himself a pat on the back for creating the Apple II computer and decided to stop since he thought that he had accomplished enough in his life? Most likely we wouldnt have iPhones or iPads today if he had done that. So why do we tend to start slacking after accomplishing something?
Beginning to slack is caused by our pride. Although pride and ego are not the same thing, they are related. In fact, pride validates our ego by making us feel distinguished for accomplishing something which often blinds us of the fact that we still have plenty of room to grow and push ourselves to do even better things. However, pride doesnt only make us stop learning and trying to accomplish better things. We also cant stand to be criticized because of it. When we are, we get all protective of ourselves and argue with those who hurt our feelings instead of just coming to terms with the fact that we cant be the best at everything.
No other did Benjamin Franklin suffer from that default. Franklin decided to go to Boston, his hometown, one day, and while he was there, the very respected Cotton Mather had shouted, Stoop! Stoop! to him, but he didnt think much of it since he thought that he was better. However, since Franklin had ignored him, he ended up walking straight into a low door-frame, hitting his head badly.
The moral of that lesson is that if we want to see past our pride, we need to ask ourselves, What would a humble person do?
Keep your ego in check by learning to delegate tasks and trust your team
Is trying to trust the people that you work with a difficult thing for you to do? Do you sometimes believe that they cant do as good of a job on a task as you would be able to do, so you dont give it to them? If this is you, these symptoms mean that your ego really needs to be worked on. Learn to trust people because it will benefit your team immensely.
When you start getting higher positions such as managerial ones, you may start having complications with your ego. This position requires you to look at the work of other people, so you are no longer going to be getting as much acknowledgement for your work.
Why do we often take on tasks that we could be giving to others? Its because we thing with our ego, and our ego says that only we can do it right. However, if you learn how to assign responsibility, you will learn how to both trust and respect the rest of your team. It could possibly make better use of their time and therefore your time can be used towards working on newer things.
If thats not enough information to assure you that you need to bring your ego down a notch, then Ill let you in on a little secret; if you dont delegate tasks, your company will suffer immensely.
Take, for example, the car company, John DeLorean. He thought that he understood the car manufacturing business better than the executives at General Motors, so he quit. Unfortunately, little did he know that his thoughts couldnt have been any further from the truth.
The first thing that he did when he had started his company was get rid of the stepwise design of the responsibility that had actually been beneficial at GM. However, DeLorean had called all of the shots and thus his dictatorial management plummeted and ended in bankruptcy.
We owe much of our success to others and shouldnt hog the praise for ourselves
If we arent islands, then why do we always take our successes as our own? It doesnt matter if we go through something arduous and succeed; we cant let it go to our heads. Thats much easier to do than to realize that this was not just a one man or woman show.
Take, for example, basketball players Shaquille ONeal and Kobe Bryant. These two legendary LA Lakers players had won three championships consecutively starting in 2000. Together, they made a great pair, but they both let their individual success get to them. ONeal had often criticized Bryant about his shortcomings to the media. Bryant wouldnt sign with the Lakers again unless ONeal was moved to another team.
However, do you think that you would have acted differently? Suppose you had all of a sudden gotten asked to do an interview with a magazine or got the chance to gain a lot of followers on social media. It would be easier for you to think that you are better than everyone else instead of stopping and thanking everyone who had been there with you along the way.
Instead of just being selfish and trying to get praised, share the recognition with other people. They will most likely do the same thing for you in return. There are, no doubt about it, positions that depend on just the fame of one person, such as a broad leadership or media coverage at all times. Nonetheless, being humble will never not benefit your career.
Always thank those who have helped you get to where you are today, whether they be the accountants that helped you with the numbers for your award-winning presentation or the designer who made phenomenal infographics. Not only will your team appreciate you more, but you will also attract the attention of new employees, too.
When you do your best and things dont work out, find out why so you can do better next time
Its okay to get frustrated with rejected ideas or at positions that you didnt get offered. Your egos deserve to get rewards, but the world doesnt always work in our favor. When we dont get the promotion or close the deal, how do we deal with the loss?
Dont forget about all that you have accomplished when you are feeling down. Understand that you sometimes the outcome just isnt in your hands. Look at the unexpected result in a positive light instead, one that you can reflect on and learn from.
On the other hand, dont forget the some lucky successes are not the same thing as the success you get from putting in work. So, just be honest with yourself about your work.
Look at the New England Patriots as an example. They had come upon Tom Brady in the sixth round of draft entry. Luckily for them, he ended up becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. He even led his team to four Super Bowl titles. Despite this, they didnt sit around congratulating themselves for being so fortunate, having found the player accidentally. Instead, they set their minds on making their scouting program better so that they could find players as talented as Brady once again.
Take the time to try to figure out why something didnt go the way you had planned the next time you hit an obstacle. By giving it your all, youll have a better chance at success in the future.
An ego is something you are born with; something that unfolds by itself when fed with success. It is not something that you create on purpose. However, not checking up on your ego can impact your success in a bad way, so make sure you take the right measures that ensure that you dont grow a bigger head.