If it is left unchecked our ego is something that can lead us completely in the wrong way. The thing is as well, it’s incredibly powerful for our drive. Literally it can be everything we need to get us to the next level. We have to learn to temper it and not let it run amok.
There is a ton written out there about it being a bad thing, but it can also be a great thing. Another great advantage, you don’t have to train to have an ego or go to school for it, it’s already in all of us. We just need to understand it, be aware of it, and learn the best places to use it to drive us forward. We have to master the ego and not let it master us. We have to tame it.
Ego allows us to engage competition, convince others of our abilities, and surpass our past achievements. We get caught all to often in the clouds of our own inflated self-image and damage our true potential by our own views of ourselves. In other words, we can overextend by becoming overconfident in our abilities and end up paying for it.
As distance runner I use my ego a lot to get me through my toughest runs. Starting out, ego helps me picture myself with super powers and getting past a goal with ease. Left untempered through the run, my ego might make me over confident and run faster than a pace I should be running. Before I know it I am overextended, tired, and unable to finish the run. It effectively blocks my road to success versus helping me.
Ego as a driver for us is the desire to gain recognition without putting in the work for it. To many times we try to become famous in our work and life before we achieve the success. One way to temper our ego is great use of ambition. Unlike our ego, ambition is based on a solid foundation of real achievements. We have to be focused on our success not coming from us wanting to gain recognition from it, but instead bring it’s output into working harder in our areas of expertise.
To rein in our ego we need to also tell ourselves there is always more to learn. Put yourself in the mindset of when you were a student. In school, there was always someone better than us at something. What can you learn from their work? Then apply ego to it. You are never done learning. Ego getting the best of you will keep you from that next level of your optimized evolution because you will convince yourself you have nothing to learn. Find yourself a highly skilled mentor and spend more time working with someone more talented than you as a great best practice.
Ego lives most commonly in the form of our pride. Pride can make us blind to warnings and challenges. Imagine for a minute if the Steve’s of Apple rested at what they had created in the garage and called it good enough. We most certainly would not have iPhones or iPads today. Resting on our laurels is a result of pride unchecked. One more thing pride does to us, it makes us incredibly sensitive to criticism and feedback of any kind. Even aggressive. An easy thing to do is to meditate for a minute, pause in every situation along your drive, and picture how someone more humble would perceive things. No person is an island, so what in the world makes us think our victories are ours alone?Here’s an example where left unchecked it can have very bad consequences.
Let’s take Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe who won three consecutive championship NBA rings for 2000, 2001, and 2002. They were fantastic together. However, they both let their individual successes get to their heads and ultimately split, complained to the media about each others weaknesses, and Bryant refused ultimately to sign again with the Lakers unless they traded O’Neal. The result, a broken track record of success for the Lakers organization.
Remind yourself that everyone around you helped you get where you are. Take the time to use your ego to empower you to thank them and be humbled as the output versus your own ingrained selfishness being your reward. Thanking those along the way will help strengthen your position towards your drive.
Lastly, when you really put forth your best and don’t make it, find out why so next time you can do much better. Don’t let your ego pull you into what you think you are entitled to receive as a reward for your drive. You need to confront that feeling. You can’t always control the outcome, but we try to, or better yet our ego likes to tell us we can control it. Lets take New England Patriots football team that choose Tom Brady in the sixth round choice as an entry in the draft. He turned out to be one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history leading the team to four Super Bowl titles. Instead of patting themselves on the back (no pun intended there) they instead decided to learn from that miss in talent pooling and put their energy into improving their scouting program.
Our ego is not something a person develops as I stated above; it is a part of all of our personalities that develops naturally, especially when we land successfully on our feet towards our drive. We need that. Also, we need to make sure it’s not left unchecked or untempered. Steel left untempered can shatter just like glass.
I should have our last chapter in Our Drive wrapped up before the weekend for you. I hope you have a great rest of the week. Thanks for being so patient while I get back into my rhythm. Sometimes you need to take a break to get a better perspective. I appreciate you for allowing me that time. Ultimately, it’s going to be better viewing for you.