Ego is an unhealthy belief in our own importance
Ego takes a concern of self-image and turns it into an obsession, it takes confidence and turns it into arrogance.
Ego is the enemy because it sabotages our long-term goals and it distracts us from achieving mastery in our craft.
Here are three ways you can notice ego working against you:
First shows up when you aspire to do something great, ego gets busy seeking out constant approval from others around us.
It’s always asking what are people thinking about me.
It prefers talking about what you’re going to do rather than actually doing it.
People constant updating her social media pages and her blog, they say I tumbled I tweeted and scrolled.
This didn’t earn me any money but it felt like work.
She did everything but focus on the work.
She thought of going silent and doing the work that she would later be proud of was scary.
The second way our ego shows up in our lives is when experience noteworthy success after achieving something great that impresses people like launching a successful business or winning a sports championship.
Our ego leads us to believe that all future endeavors are likely to be a success instead of remaining focused and building upon our previous success.
We have the tendency to become overconfident in our ability and take on too much.
At age 18, Howard Hughes made a bold decision and decided to buy out his relatives and owned 100% of his family’s oil drillbit company, the Hughes Tool company, it turned out to be a brilliant move, a huge success, the company grew from 1 million dollar business in to a billion dollar business.
Ryan says it was a bold move for a young man with essentially zero experience in business. And it was with similar boldness that over his career he would create one of the most embarrassing wasteful and dishonest business track records in history that huge initial success led Hughes to believe that he could succeed in almost any business. He went to aviation film and stock trading.
His ego fuelled by early success led to the waste of his time talent and money.
The third way ego shows up in our lives is when we experience failure or set back, at this time, ego shows up just in time to save face and dodge responsibility.
In an effort to defend our ego we lose sight of what we’ve worked for in the progress we’ve made to his point.
Ryan illustrates this by telling the story of American Apparel founder Dov Charney, Ryan says after losses of some 300 million dollars and numerous scandals, the company offered him a choice, step aside as CEO and guide the company as a creative consultant for large salary or be fired. He rejected both options and picked something much worse, instead of helping his company find better leadership and bring the conpany back to greatness, he decided to create an internal war, he sued the company and brought the company to the edge of bankruptcy from which it may never recover.
Instead of letting his ego take the hit and recognizing saving the company was more important than saving face, he let his ego turn failure into hostilities destroying the company that he worked so hard to build ultimately leaving him to be broke and sleeping on a friends couch.
In all three phases ego distracts you from focusing on doing the work and producing something that you can be proud of.
So if ego is the enemy, how do we defeat it?
One way is to use the plus/minus equal method. Coined by the great UFC fighter Frank Shamrock
For each fighter to be great, they need to have someone better they can learn from, someone lesser they can teach, and someone equal they can chanllege themselve against.
For the first form of ego that shows up when we’re aspiring to do somthing grea, we need to find an equal in order to defeat it, and equal is an ambitious person or pure group that is at your current skill level, an equal can also be a competitorthat pushes you to improve your equal should constantly challenge your abilities and force you to grow to remain equal, when you have an equal, you have no time to obsess over public opinion because doing so would be wasting your time, and you would risk falling behind.
For example if you aspire to be a great writer surround yourself with other writers and share your goals read each other’s publications and push one another to constantly improve.
The second form of ego that shows up whenever we succeed needs a plus to be defeated. When ego starts generating stories of our greatness, we quickly need a dose of humility in order to remain focused on our ulimate goal. Humility comes from remembering that there is always someone better thanus and always something bigger than us.
Your plus could be a mentor who has achieved much much more than you have, someone whose accomplishments make your success seem rather small.
Another way to experience a plus in your life is to reflect on the immensity of the world around you, this can mean going for a drive in the mountains or walking along the ocean shoreline to realize how small you really are.
Reflecting something or someone bigger than yourself is necessary to quiet the ego and avoid getting caught up in your personal story of greatness preventing you from taking on too much and being careless with your time and resources
To combat the third form of ego that shows up when we fail we need a minus, a minus requires that you teach what you learn.
Having a minus help you to look objectively at your failures and gather lessons learn to pass down, when you have the responsibility to teach others you spend less time complaining and more time looking for ways to improve.
To find your minus, you could start mentoring someone younger or writing a book of lessons to pass down to your children or writing a daily blog.
So if you’re in search of excellence and want to do work that you’ll be proud of one day
Then Ego is your enemy and to fight back that ego day after day, you need a plus/minus equal.
That was the core message I got from Ego is the enemy.