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  • Are you ego-driven?
  • How has your ego helped and hurt you?

The ego is an enormous strength and a profound weakness. When I was in my prime, I did a lot of weightlifting. I’d ask myself, what can a personal trainer do for me that I cannot do for myself? I carried 226 pounds on a six-foot, two-inch frame, and 10% body fat. I could bench 350 pounds and curl 65 pounds with each arm. No one could tell me anything except my ego. I had a good program but didn’t always stick to it. When other weightlifters came into the gym (what I euphemistically call “My House”), I would stealthily compete with them and rarely warm up properly. A personal trainer or strength coach would have kept me focused on my program. By deviating from my program, I gained strength but lost flexibility. That is a metaphor for life. We all need coaching no matter how good we think we are.

Every morning, I repeat an ego management affirmation. I asked God to keep my ego in check by not allowing me to get too full of myself when things go well and not beat myself up when they do not. I also ask for help reducing my insecurities. My football coaches used to say, “When you score a touchdown, act like you’ve been there before.” In other words, enjoy the moment, but there will be plenty more.

Managing ego is a tricky undertaking. The ego is an asset and a liability. It plays an important role in our lives. Without it, we would lack drive. However, the ego, when unchecked, can be a dangerous thing.

At certain times in my life, people told me what they didn’t think I could do. They underestimated me for one reason or another. In essence, I had to answer yes to one of two questions. Did I believe what they thought of me? or what I thought of myself? My ego answered yes to the latter question. I applied myself and was successful over and over again.

However, overreliance on a strength can make it a weakness. The word “overconfident” comes to mind. Overconfident people, leaders in particular, have all the answers. They stop listening to other perspectives and opinions.

We live in a dynamic world, processes that worked last year might not be as effective in the current environment. Markets are more diverse, so it is important to understand the needs of current and potential consumers. The most egregious downside of ego is not being willing to accept criticism or not being right all the time. Leaders who effectively manage their egos are resilient. They check their egos by accepting feedback, keeping what serves them, and discarding what does not. Manage your ego; don’t let it manage you. 

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