Confidence always seems to be a focal point when discussing how to be successful, how to present ourselves to others, and how to lead a team. Having confidence in ourselves and in our abilities is something we should all strive to achieve, and encourage others to do as well. We all deserve to believe that we are worthy, qualified, and skilled.
However, we are not invincible. Our thoughts are not above others. Our ideas are not bulletproof. We are fallible and we always have more to learn. We must recognize these facts and own them, because embracing them is the difference between having confidence and having an ego.
An ego in the workplace is harmful not only to the individual but everyone in their environment. Human relationships and personal growth can’t prosper, and neither can creativity and innovation.
The only way our egos grow is by feeding them, and many of us do so without realizing. Having an ego isn’t a sin, and it isn’t uncommon. We all have different levels of ego and moments when it presents itself most. You don’t need to attend Egos Anonymous and admit a serious problem before taking steps to becoming more humble. Everyone can follow the suggestions below to help starve out their ego, no matter how small.
Add Reflection to Your Daily Routine
Before leaving the office, spend a few moments looking back on your day and the events that unfolded. In your reflections, avoiding focusing on all the things you did well. If you’re looking to check your ego in the first place, then giving yourself recognition probably isn’t an area you’re struggling with. Reflection time isn’t meant to create moments of pride.
Instead, shift your focus to your shortcomings. Take a hard look at your mistakes or mishaps. Be critical and be nit picky. You probably won’t make huge mistakes each day, or else you wouldn’t still have a job. Find a moment you could’ve handled better, something you should’ve put more effort into, or maybe a conversation you wish you initiated.
Your reflection time is meant to be a learning opportunity to give yourself feedback and find ways to improve. You can be confident in yourself while also being critical. The more you’re able to realize that you’re not perfect, the more you squash your ego.
Your ego tells you that you’re always right, but if you can look back on your day and be okay recognizing times when you weren’t right, then you’re already contradicting your ego.
While You’re At It, Also Add Gratitude
During your daily reflections, consider your moments of success, and more specifically, the outside factors that contributed to your success. We sometimes find it all too natural to claim our success as our own, without taking time to recognize the people we couldn’t have done it without.
As a leader, praise and recognition is probably granted to you often. People rewarding such praise don’t always see what happens behind the scenes. Without a team working promptly and other outside factors coming together, success may not have come to fruition.
Ask yourself— Who contributed to my success today? Who lent a hand? Who raised my spirits?
By answering such questions and recognizing other people’s role in your positive outcomes, Harvard Business Review says that, “This helps you develop a natural sense of humility, by seeing how you are not the only cause of your success.” By building up your own humility, you’re strengthening the antithesis of ego.
HBR also urges that we go one step further than mentally noting those who helped us by sending them a note of gratitude or verbally thanking them each day.
Do More Than Talk to Others, Invest in Them
Our ego likes to tell us that we know best, that our opinions and ideas are superior than anyone else’s. HBR states that “Infatuation with one’s own brilliance can be hazardous to your ability to lead.”
The best way to fight this? Go talk to other people on your team. Gather their suggestions. Pick their brain. Ask for their feedback.
Go deeper than just collecting data from team members. The goal here is to find value in others, and from there, build strong relationships. Any meaningful relationship requires communication that goes in both directions. So while you may have found yourself expressing your ideas in the past, now you need to open the door for others to speak and for you to listen actively. Welcome discussion, push-back, and disagreement.
Take other’s ideas and transform them into action. Try new things and experiment with what’s outside of the box and your comfort zone. Relish in the diversity of thought and creativity. And from there, watch innovation flow.
By witnessing success flourish from ideas that aren’t your own, or are a development of your own, you’re putting your ego to bed.
Egos don’t grow from thin air. We either feed them, or allow others to feed them. The control is ours to reinvest our energy and our potential into gratitude and humility, taking away nourishment from our egos and starving them out once and for all.
To hold yourself accountable and keep improving your leadership abilities, consider how Knowted’s coaching services can help you.