Question: I see people who appear to be very successful that have very large egos. How much ego is too much?
Answer: I remember one of the best football players to ever play the game was Marcus Allen. He was a running back for the Oakland Raiders and later, the Kansas City Chiefs. Every time he scored a touchdown (145 of them) he simply handed the ball to the referee and trotted off the field. I never saw him spike the ball in the end zone or do some sort of “look at me” dance that is so prevalent today. It seems like professional athletes in most sports celebrate in ways that may indicate ego issues.
Perhaps ego displays in the business world don’t equal the level that we see on the gridiron or hardwood courts, but they are on display nonetheless. There are those who will say that this is really about demonstrating one’s pride. Nilton Bonder, a Brazilian rabbi said this, “Many people believe that humility is the opposite of pride, when, in fact, it is a point of equilibrium. The opposite of pride is actually a lack of self-esteem.”
Have you heard the term “ego drive?” Ego drive has been defined as the inner need to persuade others as a means of gaining personal gratification. It’s all about getting someone else to say “yes” and the satisfaction derived from this act. Ego drive is generally a healthy trait as opposed to egotism which is closely related to narcissism.
I’ve always believed that the “bigger” you become the more humble you should be. With success comes the need for less arrogance; less pomposity; more sensitivity and more empathy. Here’s a small way you can practice this. Every time you compose an e-mail or verbally speak to someone else, see how often you can eliminate the reference to “I” and “my” and replace them with “we” and “us.” The more we can think in terms of crediting others with helping us achieve success the more humility we gain.
To the extent that we can be comfortable with who we are on the inside, the more likely it is that we will become a genuinely humble person. And at that point the respect and admiration of others will come naturally and effortlessly because it will have been truly earned.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.