Ironically, the most important principles in life as usually the most simple.
To be happy, follow your passion. To stay healthy, eat well and exercise. To build great relationships, don’t be afraid to open yourself up to others.
Most of us know what we have to do in order to be successful. Yet often what holds us back and prevents us from taking the actions we need to take is that one silent thing that all of us have.
Our precious egos.
Our egos are what prevent us following our passions in case we might struggle or fail. Or prevent us from speaking up in case others might mock us. Or perhaps worst of all, stop us seizing opportunity just because of fear of criticism from others.
All of us have an ego. As innately social creatures, our very existence has been based on getting along with others. We all feel good with some degree of self-esteem and purpose. The only difference between us is how we measure our progress – for most of us it is comparing ourselves to others, for many it is money and for others it could be popularity and social status.
And sometimes some degree of ego can be a good thing. In fact history is littered with examples of people who have attained the pinnacle of the arts, science and even business mainly fuelled by the passion of a bruised ego.
The problems arise when ego’s start to become destructive. When self-importance or personal pride becomes more important than doing the right thing. And in eleven years working with some of the highest achievers in business, I can say with confidence that being able to control one’s ego effectively is one of the most powerful tools all successful people have.
Here are some ways how great leaders control their egos.
They recognise they have one
Despite how many self-help books we read or coaching seminars we attend, the truth is that us humans are not robots.
We’re emotional creatures, driven by some sort of identity or purpose. We get worked up. We like to celebrate. We even sometimes like to just let off steam.
Rather than trying to be perfect and stick “to the book”, great leaders understand that the key to dealing with any sensitive issue is to first do an honest diagnosis. To get things out in the open and be transparent about who we are – even if it means having to face some harsh truths.
Great leaders understand that the only way to manage our egos, is to first respect it. Rather than try to fight a tug-of-war emotional battle between reason and emotion, its best to first to try and develop and understanding of who we actually are. This allows us to create change gradually but permanently, rather than simply using will power to try and overcome our gut instincts for each separate situation.
Great leaders respect who they are.
They don’t compare with others
As innately creatures that thrive in communities, most of us crave social acceptance.
In fact, most of the reason why our egos exist in the first place is to either please others or to prevent being criticised from other people.
It’s why we buy big houses to “keep up with the Jones”. Or don’t ask that girl out that we fancied in case we end up “looking stupid”. Or are afraid of making cold calls for fear of rejection.
And the more we surround ourselves with social standards, the harder life can become. Everything can become about winning – earning the most money, getting the most career advancement and off course getting the most likes on our Instagram page.
Great leaders understand that big egos and big expectations are closely linked. Sure, using others as benchmarks or even inspiration to push yourself is always a good thing, but simply comparing oneself with others – often for things that we don’t really care about is the most surefire way to heavy stress. It can create unnecessary pride, greed and even jealousy. All ingredients of an ego that can take over and seem to have a life of its very own.
Rather than compare ourselves with anyone about anything, its more important to decide what’s most important to us and just focus on getting there.
Great leaders focus on what’s important to them.
They live life outside themselves
But perhaps the most important tool in controlling our personal egos is something that actually doesn’t involve any self-reflection or change in behaviour at all.
Something that is easy to do:
To help other people.
In the fast paced and ever connected world we live in today, everything has become about us. Personal achievement. We’re all constantly online, can constantly see what others are doing and are continuously check our page views, twitter followers and even bank accounts to see how we are progressing.
Its almost like we know exactly what our “score” is and life is about just trying to get it better.
Great leaders understand that the best way to control our ego and keep perspective is to remember that the world does not revolve purely around us. By going out of our way to help other people, we break the continuous pressure we create on ourselves and realise that everyone in the world has hopes and desires – not just us. It allows us to move away from self-importance to finding a genuine purpose. To create achievement based on passion and service rather than just hitting a target for personal reasons.
Living life beyond ourselves creates more adventure, purpose and fulfilment.
And besides, its much more fun too.
Great leaders have fun.
A huge ego can create huge achievement.
But it can result in huge destruction too.
Hence controlling it properly is a skill well worth mastering.
Great leaders understand that whilst difficult to do so, understanding and controlling our ego’s is a personal challenge that is critical to success and that can only be done by individuals themselves.
Its the only way to build respect and trust with others.
How does your leader control his ego?
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