From this month’s magazine – John Reynard tells us how to get past our ego for business success.
In my early 30s I created a restaurant with no previous catering experience. I got myself into all sorts of trouble, but I learned a lot and, when the time came to move on, I sold it as a going concern. Later I set up a market research company and, while I had some good years, just like many entrepreneurs I oscillated between feast and famine.
It was only when I started to understand the destructive power of the ego and apply appropriate tools to overcome it, that things started to change. We became one of the fastest growing and most profitable companies in our sector in Europe.
What is the ego?
As small children we are inherently enthusiastic about life and the positive feedback that we receive builds our self-esteem and pride in ourselves. This ‘self-confidence’ becomes a central core, and we draw from it the courage and strength to go out into the world and fulfil our dreams.
This is the positive aspect of our ego. The level of intensity with which we learn as children not only encompasses the good times but extends to painful events too. We attach enormous importance to the attitude of others. If a carer or teacher repeatedly insists we are stupid, we lose confidence and may decide we are incompetent.
The level of intensity with which we learn as children not only encompasses the good times but extends to painful events too. We attach enormous importance to the attitude of others.
If a sibling seems to be always favoured, we feel inferior and may think we are unworthy and unloved. The continued repetition of these experiences at a susceptible age, and in particular the debilitating stories we invent around such events, build a detrimental and weak self-image.
This is the negative aspect of the ego. It is made up of powerful and painful feelings, and we don’t know how to express or deal with them. We push them deep down within ourselves, draw a veil over them, and pretend they are not there. Our hidden fears and secrets sit there quietly until someone says or does something to reactivate them.
It might be a completely neutral statement or act, but we take it personally, interpret it as attack, and respond inappropriately or clam up and fume. If we never seek the truth of what lies behind these fears, they have power over us. We react defensively and make decisions we later regret.
We all suffer from negative egos, and we all experience circumstances that subconsciously remind us of memories that have caused us pain. We assume we are under attack and feel compelled to respond. This negative ego holds us captive and frequently results in self-sabotage and misery.
Signs of the ego being active in the work environment are when: “There is no sense of flow. The business feels stuck, negative things keep recurring and never get solved satisfactorily. “We wake up in the morning and resent going to work, or else find ourselves getting excessively angry or upset by what others either say or do.
Tools for overcoming the ego
Here are seven ways to overcome your ego, and push on with your business.
- Resist blaming external circumstances
- Resist judgment and criticism of others
- Attentive listening and ‘pacing’
- Nurture intuition
- Ask specific questions of our intuition
- Express our own vulnerability
- Away days
About the author
John Reynard is now a marketing/ business coach and author of The Spiritual Route to Entrepreneurial Success – From Harassed Sole Trader to Visionary CEO, AuthorHouseUK, 2016. Find out more at spiritedentrepreneur.com