Having a healthy self-esteem naturally helps us achieve results that surprise and delight our stakeholders, but when a positive self-regard becomes an overconfident ego, it can halt progress, erode trust and compromise your ability to collaborate.
Today’s online world doesn’t make it any easier to manage overconfidence at work or in life either. Ego is the Enemy author, Ryan Holiday, explains that we actively post a curated version of our lives online, forgetting less desirable moments between our “filtered” photos. Even though we know others’ profiles are much like ours—a performance—we still unduly concern ourselves with appearances.
Humility is the obvious counterweight to an overblown ego. So how do we suddenly channel more humble thoughts and behaviors? It’s not an overnight process but incremental moves can get you there.
Here are three points Holiday explores that I found personally relevant for help overcoming ego:
Adopt a growth mindset
If you learn to wear a newcomer’s lens to your work and life, you’ll be less inclined to behave as if you already know more than everyone else. Regardless of what your ego might tell you, there’s always someone in the room who can contribute to the topic. Open yourself up to feedback and new ideas. Let curiosity be the driver.
Focus on the process rather than the result
Overconfident people tend to focus on success as the only measuring stick for greatness. Instead, Holiday argues that what makes you great is how you handle the process and hiccups along the way. Failure is inevitable, so what kind of leader are you when that happens? Rather than gloss over failure to focus on the occasional success, constructively look at the journey to allow for valuable introspection.
Be the impartial spectator
Consider a work or life scenario and ask yourself if you would make the same choices as an impartial bystander. Chances are your decisions are vastly different as a spectator than someone at the center of the action. Use this impartial view to neutralize the focus on yourself and identify others’ perspectives more easily.
Challenge yourself to experiment with one of these strategies for overcoming ego and you may find that your colleagues respond to you in new and encouraging ways. After all, research tells us that smaller egos equal bigger results. More specifically, humble leaders have a competitive advantage because they make the best leaders and team players. Equally important, a humble leader not only demonstrates his or her ability to manage others, but also an aptitude for overcoming their own ego.
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