‘Is your ego big enough for business?’

Stop killing your greatest business asset.

Now, we all know but perhaps don’t own up to having a big ‘ego’? however you want to disguise it, no one is truly altruistic. Whether we wrap our motivation for our business in …‘doing for the greater good’. ‘I’m all about ‘giving and sharing’ of our knowledge and skills. ‘It’s my vocation’, or ‘I want to leave a legacy for the planet’. It really doesn’t matter – we all get something out of what we are doing. There is always a return on our investment. And that something or investment is driven by our ego, whether we care to admit it or not. Other wise known as job satisfaction.

But that’s not me I hear you cry! “I just wanted to do what I loved” and ” I want to follow my passion”. “I wanted to live a life with purpose and meaning”. “I never wanted to be a leader or be in the spotlight”. “I fell into business because there was a gap”! Well, in response to all those comments I ask you this? What is it, about you, that makes it okay for you to step aside from the ‘normal trappings’ of 9-5 and the PAYE system (if your in the UK) and do your thing”?

There has to be something about us, don’t you think? We must have a big ego. That ‘thing’ which gives us the drive, and the courage to step up. The impetus to break from the pack and take risks, to do it for ourselves.  

Don’t you find it interesting how immediately, we can take offence to being identified as having a big ego. Or the suggestion we think we are anything ‘special’. Yet this is the one thing which kept us alive and thriving as a vulnerable baby. Our ego is amazingly powerful and a vital inherent part of our very survival. So as a business owner why would you dismiss your ego. Why would you consider quashing or denying your greatest asset? A key element of success that costs you nothing. Or is it costing you?

Think about it. You were not born to blend in with the crowd!

Where might the problem lay?

It’s not difficult to work your way back to the roots, where our reluctance to having a ‘big ego’ germinated. Or the shame we felt of being accused of being ‘arrogant’ or ‘conceited’. To dare to think or believe we should be anything other than what is accepted as the norm. Or wanting more, and yes I accept there are always exceptions to this.

How many times did it take before the saying ‘pride comes before a fall’ lodged in your belief system. Or maybe the response when something didn’t work out ‘how the mighty do fall’? Perhaps you where you told to be ‘quiet and put your hand up’, the seen and not heard! Did you experience the criticism of ‘don’t be greedy and wait your turn’, ‘leave some for others’. Were your creative ideas deemed ‘stupid’? At what point did these comments start to influence your behaviours? I would hazard a guess that every single one of us could recall our own versions of the above. And probably more given the time to reflect.

When you have a moment, jot down a list of the most common phrases you use or hear. Consider how each one resonates with you, your decision making and your behaviours.

You don’t have to go far to find reminders of the evil perils of having an ‘ego’. Just by searching for randomly for quotes on the ego in business. This is one of many which popped up. “putting your ego aside will probably be the smartest thing you do as a human being’? What the heck! Seriously? Is you ego big enough to be in business?

We are pack animals and as such we need leaders to drive direction. We need charismatic, confident people to rally the troops when moral dips. There are great leaders, there are great business owners, all with great values which underpin their mission. Why are they great? because they own their ego. What do I mean by this? They play to their strengths. They are not shrinking violets when it comes to letting you know what needs to happen. Nor do not hide or make excuses for the areas of expertise they do not have. They deploy their ego by communicating their vision. They do it with transparency by embracing uncertainty. They are active in bringing others who are better skilled to ensure the right outcomes are achieved.

Being counted.

‘Confidence comes when you lean into your ego’.

We all have an ego, so owning it and deploying it is about having, ‘self-esteem’. Self esteem comes from having a sense ‘of who I am’, and ‘identity’. It’s an area many don’t explore, however if you do, you create an air of clarity and confidence around you. It will help you have focus and set your direction. It will support you in remaining resilient in tough times, and yes, your WHY no longer in explanation or words.

It’s often when we deny ourselves an identity that we can feel lost and unfulfilled. It leads to feeling defensive or being on the ‘backfoot’ and not leading ourselves. It’s, where we hear the term ‘dented ego’ used. A derogatory and extremely painful and moreover, unnecessary message to receive?

Check in with how you are operating and engaging with your ego. It’s not at all difficult to spot when you are not leading yourself well.

When have your words, in response to someone’s idea been something like, “I know that, I know what I am doing”. This is a direct slaying of creativity, motivation, goodwill, and probably the relationship. Imagine the longer lasting damage for such a few words. Where has that left your development?

Keep in mind owning your ego can provoke a ‘dis-ease’ in others. Leading to comments such as ‘they’re a risk taker’, ‘always in your face’, ‘driven’, or ‘workaholic’. Even in jest, it is evidence of someone’s di-ease in being around you. It’s likely to happen when the pressure is increasing and you are asking them to step up? In fact, owning and deploying your ego is quite the opposite to such negative comments. In truth its about having confidence and competence and displaying it.

Check your deployment now? Have you stated to yourself, when you were planning or forecasting; ‘I am the only one who is needed to resolve this issue’?. Or maybe, ‘I am the best person for the job’? When you are listening to someone’s objections and points of view; do you have a response ready and waiting for them? Do you interject during a conversation? If this sounds like you … then it’s quite likely you are willing to put someone else’s development on hold or dimmed their future lights. Not to mention dim the lights on your own success?

However, when your ego is being deployed well, the reduction in stress, anxiety is palpable. Your plans start to included ‘big unanswered questions’ because you are grounded. You grow opportunities to surround yourself with people with even bigger questions. You have an open invitations for more questions than you have answers for. It’s then your ego is likely to be in that ‘sweet spot’. 

“When you let you own light shine, you unconsciously give others permission to do the same.”

Nelson Mandela


Everyone is doing the best they can, no matter how they come across.

We all have an ego. How we choose to deploy our ego and how we show up with it will be dependant on our underlying beliefs and values we have developed over the years. These will inform how we see ourselves and how we relate to the world around us. A strong sense of ‘self-worth’ and ‘personal identity’ will form the sweet spot or motherboard for our egos to function.  It becomes the greatest powerhouse to keep you motivated and resilient ready to embrace uncertainty and new demands.   It means we are willing to roll our sleeves up. Get behind our pack so they can get on with the mission. It prepares us to sometimes get things wrong, and to bounce back numerous times and quickly.

 If we are going to be in business let’s be in the best business. If we are going to accept the leadership role then let’s stand up, get behind it and do it. When you make a decision let’s make them big, bold and fabulously gutsy and don’t stand in the way of your greatest asset: ‘your ego’.

For every success, take ownership.

For every missed opportunity, take ownership.

For every error, take ownership.

Working as I did for 26 years in the NHS the investigations into errors was always a hot topic. The process used was to elicit understanding, not apportion blame but accept accountability.

So I want to ask you two questions.

  1. The last time an error was made did you,
       a) look externally for the cause of the failure?
       b) Internally for the cause of the failure?

  2. The last time there was a success in your business.
       a) Did you seek to celebrate with others?
       b) Did you seek others to celebrate with? 

When you take the trouble to know yourself, what you stand for, what drives you and where you are heading, you will own your ego. You will attract the likeminded people who are wanting your outcomes and share in your purpose, all willing to join forces.

In the same vein you will repel those who don’t share what you represent. Both outcomes have the greatest value to you!

Imagine the positive impact you will have on your business, your staff and your customers. When you have a greater capacity to see what was once;

  • criticism and complaint are in fact curiosity.
  • challenges turn to shared passion.
  • rejection, becomes another untapped opportunity.
  • conflict as breakthrough thinking.

Why? because your ego becomes charismatic and inspiring. You no longer see personal threat, nor do you approach situations and people in defence mode.

“you can’t shake hands with a clenched fist”.

Origin unknown.

I want to leave you with a thought.

Who are you serving as a leader and business owner, when you are not playing your best game, with the full deck you were given? You are doing equal damage to your business by killing off your ego as you are not deploying it correctly.

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