Balancing your ego

In between my awfully busy time at work, I’ve recently read Egonomics by David Marcum and Steven Smith. Well, it brings an old adage into mind: Everything in moderation. Without ego, you may not be as driven to improve yourself as you could be; Yet too much of it can inhibit your rise or push you to your downfall.

The book highlights 4 early warning signs:

  1. being comparative (competitive)
  2. being defensive
  3. showcasing brilliance
  4. seeking acceptance

And offers 3 principles to help keep your ego in check:

  1. humility
  2. curiosity
  3. veracity

Here are my notes on the 4 early warning signs…

Being comparative. There are dangers in being comparative or competitive. For one, it can prevent us from keeping our eye on the goal when our focus and our energies are shifted towards the actual competition or when we become too busy watching over our shoulder. We could end up totally losing track of the goal and instead find ourselves having goals defined by the competition. It can also bring about a crab mentality among colleagues. Comparison can also delude us into thinking that we’re better than we actually are. When this happens, we set ourselves for a fall since there may be others who are far better than us or we may be setting goals that are too high above our reach.

Being defensive. One important thing to realize is the difference between defending a point and being defensive. One of the dangers in being defensive is that it makes us close-minded if not ready to pounce on the other person. Due to being defensive, we refuse to listen to the other person, even if the other person may be right. We make excuses. We make personal attacks at the other person. We resort to spinning the truth to our favor through exaggeration, understatements, manipulation and fabrication.

Showcasing brilliance. There’s a need to distinguish between just sharing and showing off. When we show-off or play the know-it-all card, we’re more likely to annoy others even when we happen to be right. And there is a tendency for people to avoid us or forego seeking our opinion altogether even when we’re qualified to provide support. One other danger is that when we become overconfident of what we know and of our brilliance, we become complacent and start thinking that there’s little left to learn. There’s also the danger of failing to recognize other people’s brilliance since we’re caught up with our own.

Seeking acceptance. When our self-esteem is too low, we tend to turn towards others to give our egos a boost we seek acceptance. In our fear of rejection or of being unpopular, we cower at opportunities to point out what’s wrong or we do away with candor. We refuse to take responsibility (or blame). We refuse to be whistleblowers even when explicitly asked to give feedback.

Next post will be on the 3 principles — humility, curiosity, and veracity.


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