Ego is the Enemy

Ego is good early on. The confidence. The drive for status and image.

It gets us far. It gives us the courage to disregard the anxiety and fear of failure. The lizard brain that tells us to run for cover when things get scary.

We all agree that you don’t need to be a superhuman or brilliant person to build a successful business. Listen to one episode of the podcast “How I Built This” with Guy Raz and one thing will become strikingly clear. These people are normal. The founders of these unicorn companies, often billionaires, are completely normal people.

Ego drives us to take the most important step. That first step. To just do something. To get out and try something that might not work. To get out of the comfort zone and just try something and begin working towards it.

Thats half the battle, especially with these service businesses. Just put yourself out there and start doing the work.

On one end of the spectrum is anxiety, insecurity and fear. The prevalence of these emotions cripples a lot of people and is the main reason why people play the safe route. Work at the job they hate without making any changes, etc. Its crippling.

On the other end of the spectrum we have ego. Everybody has an ego – its perfectly normal. For the sake of this article I’m referring to ego as the overconfidence. The big head. The belief in oneself that is not healthy or rational or logical.

One business works. A lot of hypothesis turned out to be correct. Money was made.

This is when the ego becomes the enemy and can be a very dangerous thing. Its an emotion that can lead to very poor decision making.

Here is what happens when the ego takes the reins:

  1. You surround yourself with yes-people and attack people who disagree with you
  2. You sort incoming information based on your bias and only accept the stuff that supports your goal and your hypothesis
  3. You make very poor decisions and money is lost

How do you combat this?

You keep in mind that every hypothesis is just that. An educated guess.

Encourage those around you to challenge you and question you. Start every meeting with an encouragement to your trusted advisors to make you change your mind.

Treat all incoming data the same – whether it supports your hypothesis or not.

Change your mind often and quickly when logic and data point to it.

Understand that ego is an emotion. Its a desire and will to be correct in the presence of your peers. You have to recognize the emotion, feel it and then choose to act logically and ignore it when necessary.

Continue to have confidence. Trust your decisions. Its very important. But be grounded and be prepared for it not to work.

Remember – one cannot learn what they think they already know.

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.