Never head a billionaire say “We need the humblest tech guy in San Jose to solve our problem." Nor will you see an ad for a sales manager that states the successful candidate will have a healthy humble demeanor. So most successful industry citizens have and weaponize a healthy ego.
There is a fine line that should not be crossed.
We all have at least one industry friend that is endlessly fascinated with themselves. By the fact (in their opinion) all industry participants are as equally fascinated with hearing (again) about how “his” journey, his expertise, his perspectives, and how he alone is the only one with those unique stories. How he has repeatedly saved the world, the country, the industry…and got the girl, while solving cold fusion progressions on the side.
Maybe even a few of you think that could be this author…
Ego and the whole self-image arena gets a bit smoggy when thinking about how to deal with yourself. We get it. Here is a challenge: Try going for just one day, without a single self-reference. This means that not one of the following words passes out of your mouth. I said, Me, Mine, I, Myself, I went to, I told him, When I was in your position, or any other self-reference, I’ve been to”.
When reading Facebook or LinkedIn posts, industry newsletters, magazine editorials, and watching YouTube-type videos, watch them with this filter in mind and check out how often those with little or nothing to contribute, continually talk about themselves, like we as their audience are endlessly fascinated with them.
But, again, there is a balance, first how hard was the above challenge if you can’t get through a single phone conversation that might be an indication.
On the other hand, your experience, education, and skill sets are pretty critical in scoring gigs. But many default to playing their victim card.
Several concepts to ponder:
- In life, pain is inevitable, continual suffering and sharing the pain with others is a choice.
- Who is your mentor or coach? Have an honest and transparent conversation with the one you trust, and has your best interest in mind, - ask specifically if your ego is in check.
- In your conversations where you self-reference, really audit your side of the discussion, did it really contribute value to the other party? Is that poor soul better off knowing those tidbits? If so how? If you are really contributing, how is their condition improved? Many use it, though, to “impress” or improve their own street cred, not genuinely improve the life of the other party.
- These issues on both sides go to one’s self-image. We all have damage and issues, for instance, do you find yourself “bleeding” on others, even casual acquaintances? Talking about some event or tragedy that happened?
- Remember though one of the Weld tenants (taken from Allan Weiss of Summit Consulting’s work): “If you do not blow your own horn…there is no music”. So make sure as you do, and in doing so in such a way that delivers value to others.
Case Study of an ego cooked correctly:
John (Johnny) Laurence Miller is an American former professional golfer. He was one of the top players in the world during the mid-1970s.
He was the first to shoot 63 in a major championship to win the 1973 U.S. Open, and he ranked second in the world on Mark McCormack's world golf rankings in both 1974 and 1975 behind Jack Nicklaus. Miller won 25 PGA Tour events, including two majors. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998. He is currently the lead golf analyst for NBC Sports.
Watching him work with other “booth talent” is an awesome example of what we’re addressing here. He is not the main commentator, no that is left to the talking heads. But they continuously refer back to him, inquiring about the situation, or why a shot took a golfer off the rails, or how to address a particularly difficult shot.
Anyone who has been around golf knows as a matter of fact that Johnny knows the exact situation or challenge the pro is facing backward, forwards, sideways, and any other way we could possibly ponder the situation.
His collective life journey in this profession goes 10 times deeper than all the other NBC talking head on-site “so-called” experts combined.
So he could credibly fire-hose all the others in the room, and quite credibly insert his perspective into any of the possible scenarios that could possibly come up.
But does he? No, he does not throw anyone under the bus, not even when the goof-ball golfer is throwing an on course, live on television temper tantrum.
Typically he addresses the other booth guys, the golfer, and us as an audience with a solid respect and situational analysis that subtly builds empathy, then gently tosses a soft underhanded fat pitch back to the main commentator guys – essentially making them, and the golfer looks good.
Oh that we can all master this issue with the Johnny Miller nobility.
All this starts with us seeing ourselves as others see us, without starch and varnish, so that the next time we speak with our billionaire buddy they see us as a credible transparent resource for them to accomplish their vision, and their technology challenges.