Ego can destroy your path to success before you start building it.
I love to live on the principles of modesty. I know that ego destroys advancement.
The disturbing fact is that most people live inside their own walls of imagination. These walls never let the message of a new perspective enter their life.
So, the bad news is: You can be an ego-maniac while you don’t even know it.
The good news is: If you study your habits, you can easily find out if ego builds up your muscles.
Here is a list of habits that tell if ego has invaded your blood.
You focus on people more than ideas
Pride is concerned with who is right. Humility is concerned with what is right.
— Ezra Taft Benson
People with sky-high egos always focus on “who” rather than “what”. They want their ideas to be listed in golden words and hanged upon the 7 wonders of the world.
Ideas don’t see appearances. Ordinary humans can give birth to great ideas. Steve Jobs was not on the list of the world’s most creative minds when he thought of selling computers. Jeff Bezos was not the richest man on the globe when he sold books. Their ideas were the starting steps of their success.
Focus on ideas, not on the people who discover them.
You hesitate to say “I don’t know”
Accept ignorance; pay more attention to the question than the answer; never be afraid to go in the opposite direction.
— Richard Saul Wurman
Not everywhere. But when you are an expert consultant with countless years of experience and a wall full of certificates, it’s difficult to say “I don’t know”.
No expert wants to say “I don’t know” in their business. You can give a generic, zero value answer that repeats the question.
Saying “I don’t know” is accepting ignorance, that’s difficult. And when the question rotates around your field of interests, it gets 1000x harder.
Your ego makes it difficult for you to accept ignorance.
And what happens when you don’t say “I don’t know”? You lose your credibility slowly. People stop enjoying your answers.
Solution: If you are answering an email where you have time to research, Research.
If you are in a phone call or a meeting where you have to answer instantly, except that you don’t know the answer, it increases your credibility, people trust you when they know you don’t lie. Give them a convenient answer at that point and tell them you’ll get back to them later.
Buy time to research.
You feel uncomfortable asking questions publicly
It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question. — Eugene Ionesco
Why do you hesitate to ask questions?
Because you think your question is not up to the standard and it will damage your repo. Because your ego makes you believe that you should know the answer to this question in advance, as you own the smartest brain in the galaxy.
You have 2 ways to deal with a question.
- Ask it to whom it may concern and increase your knowledge.
- Bury the question and let the curiosity die.
You curse negative feedback
We all need people who give us feedback, that how we grow — Bill Gates
Ego-maniacs will publish their first story and wait for the 5-star responses and “wow” comments. If they don’t get it, they burst into flames.
Suppose You write a love story. Upload it to your blog. 100 people read it. 20 appreciate. And the one guy who broke up last week reads your love story while he’s drunk and comments “R-I-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S”. You forget everything and feel offended. Now you want to crush your laptop to pieces. You want to meet that man and knock him off the highest cliff. That’s how ego shapes humans.
If ego wasn’t your pal, you’d ignore. Yes, ignore general negative words you receive in feedback.
But always focus on the negative feedback, which comes with an explanation. That feedback will help you improve. Search for the specific feedback that tells you exactly what’s wrong and how you can improve.
You don’t stay silent
Silence is a source of great strength.
— Lao Tzu ,
The greatest human strength is the ability to understand and think. By understanding, we control the most powerful animals. If you’re a student and you can understand what your professor is teaching, that's your strength. If you’re an entrepreneur and you can understand what your customers want, that’s your strength.
To understand, you need to listen. To listen, you need to stay quiet while your ego will give it’s best to keep you fussing.
Interestingly, your brain is noisier than your tongue. Have you ever noticed how much you keep speaking inside our brain? If you master the art of staying silent from inside and outside, you pave your road to success by the blocks of understanding.
For example, if you are reading this article while talking to yourself on the inside, you’ll hardly understand the meaning beyond the words.
When you don’t understand other perspectives, growth dies, ideas diminish.
In a nutshell, stay silent from inside and outside to focus on better understanding.
Just focus on improvement
All you need to do is:
Have the courage to say “I don’t know”.
Ask questions without considering advice from Mr. ego.
learn from negative feedback.
Stay silent. Observe and understand.
Focus on ideas, not on people.
If you want to defeat your ego, build the golden habit to learn from every experience.