What if I told you that your ego is impacting your growth?
As a working millennial, one thing I find myself constantly doing is sizing up my worth against my compensation. And by compensation, I’m not just referring to the paycheck that gets deposited into my account each month. Hmm, if that grew exponentially, I wouldn’t complain – but I digress. Compensation can come in the form of recognition, added responsibilities, or even new opportunities.
I’ve noticed that with each year I age, my sense of entitlement grows. It’s a typical case of “I’ve been alive on this earth for longer, so I should be valued more”. Or “I have ‘x’ years of experience under my belt, so blah, blah blah”. Have you met someone who was bitten by the same bug? Or does that happen to be you?
Today, I will be addressing how an ego can prevent you from growing in the corporate world and even in school.
Confidence and ego are not synonymous
I’ve mentioned before that how you carry yourself can determine how smart you sound. After all, being confident is usually linked to intelligence. And having an ego isn’t necessarily bad. After all, we all have one! The problem arises when we become overly confident, or egotistical. Especially if there isn’t any substance to back it! Now does that sound familiar?
Confidence is a trait that we all find attractive, especially when paired with tact and humility. In my seven years in the corporate world, I have interacted with many different personalities. In fact, no two personalities were exactly the same! And what I noticed was that those who tended to progress faster were the confident socialites who worked the network strategically. Not those with the big egos.
But what is the difference?
Confident: Feeling or showing confidence in oneself or one’s abilities or qualities.Oxford Dictionary
So if someone is confident, they are sure of themselves and their abilities. How is that different from pride or ego? Well:
Ego: a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.Oxford Dictionary
With the definitions established, one key difference lies in how one feels about their importance (ego) vs their abilities (confidence).
Your ego is impacting your growth- literally
So if your ego is your sense of self-worth, how can it impact your growth?
Well, to answer that question, we need to look at this from a different angle. Do you believe that a manager will always know more than their employee? Let me rephrase that. Do you believe that a junior can never teach their superior something new?
In a world that is ever-changing, there will always be something new to learn. And if there isn’t, there is always a different perspective to consider. One issue with having a big ego is the belief that you know everything, or are too proud to admit when you don’t.
So now let me ask you a different question. Would you admit to your junior that you need them to explain something technical to you? If your answer to that is no, I really hope you change your approach.
In my line of work, I am an associate director yet I still learned valuable lessons from the intern. Lessons about the job I had been doing for years, mind you! Learning from your juniors may not be an ideal situation, but with humility comes learning. And with learning comes growth.
Related: How to stop being invisible at work
Don’t be afraid to learn new things. And once you feel as though you know it well, learn it again in a new way.
Which leads me to the next point.
People are less likely to share information with an egotistical person
At the risk of upsetting my vegans, I’d like to share the powerful saying “there are many ways to skin a cat”. Please don’t come for me because I didn’t invent it!
Moving away from the violent nature of such a statement, let’s think about what it really means. On average, we spend over sixteen years learning what other people have deemed to be accurate. We also rank our intelligence based on these very measures. But who is to say that there isn’t a better way of doing the very same things we are taught in school?
When it comes to the working environment, I absolutely hate working with rigid people. Add a fancy title to their name and it becomes a living hell! In such a situation, I avoid giving suggestions or pointing out flaws – especially if I suspect that they will react defensively. (Please don’t do as I do – silence never solved problems.)
Although my approach isn’t the best, I have seen hundreds of people react the same way to big-ego-management. The result? No one wins and the business doesn’t excel. In the short run, it is simple; the juniors can switch jobs, but who is to say that they won’t encounter the same issues again?
There have also been cases of juniors surpassing their seniors because of the ‘big-ego’ manager’s rigidity. Great for the juniors, but quite sad for those who were left behind.
We all know that if we don’t believe in ourselves, we won’t advance in life. But failing to recognise our shortfalls, or masking them with an ego can be just as bad. So if you have a big ego, beware. Your ego can be impacting your growth by preventing you from seeking more knowledge and growing professionally.