I am a big fan of self-confidence and good self-esteem and I have been pretty open about that. Lately, I have been noticing that ego gets confused with confidence and self-esteem and this can be a problem.
Self-confidence and self-esteem are necessary for us to really feel good about ourselves and be willing and able to set goals and achieve them. We have the courage to move forward when we have good confidence and esteem. We are willing to face and deal with failures without feeling like a failure. We keep things in perspective and don’t take things personally that really aren’t personal.
Then there is the ego. I am using ego in the common usage (e.g. not Freud’s personality theory). Ego is the term people use for thinking well of ourselves no matter what. It tends to be applied to people who “think they are better than others” or is sometimes used to apply to people who are overly self-focused. While this may not be technically correct, it’s how people use the word.
For purposes of this discussion, I am talking about ego getting in the way of an outcome. If we do things just looking for individual glory, that can get in the way of the desired outcome. If I am trying to complete a goal and I am concerned with failing or what other people think, then I am more likely to get in my own way and not be successful. I am more likely to quit and more likely to be closed off to people making suggestions that could be beneficial to a positive outcome. In short, I am too concerned with how this affects me personally than I am a successful outcome.
We talk about this with professional athletes. Which is more important: the team winning and being successful or the individual stats and performance? Does it matter most that the team wins or what 1 individual accomplishes (or doesn’t)? In business, does it matter most what one person accomplishes or that the business thrives? Often if only one person in a business is doing well, the business doesn’t last very long.
In today’s world, it seems that we are becoming more and more about the individual ego and I am hopeful that I am wrong. If I am providing a good service and making a positive mark in my profession (or in the world), then that is enough. Credit is nice, but outcomes are nicer. Credit can change to criticism in the blink of an eye, but outcomes are more lasting and have impact on more than just one person.
So what is most important; the ego or the outcome? You decide for yourself, but give it some real consideration.