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Entrepreneurs must control their self-image to achieve business success. John Reynard offers seven tools to help you on your way


n my early 30s I created a restaurant with no previous catering experience. I got my-

self 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. Tis ‘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. Tis is the positive aspect of our ego. Te level of intensity with which

we learn as children not only encom- passes 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. If a sibling seems to be always favoured, we feel inferior and may think we are unworthy and unloved. Te 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. Tis 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

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