Contrary to popular perception, your ego is beneficial to your success—both personally and professionally. It’s part of your neuro-physiological system and helps protect your self image and self-worth. Your ego helps create your self-concept, but sometimes it can get in the way. When that happens, the concern you have for yourself overrides what may be happening in reality.
Whenever you feel threatened, blamed, shamed or embarrassed, your ego kicks in and keeps you from clearly understanding reality. In other words, the ego makes up its own reality in response to the “ego arrows” people shoot your way. This false “ego reality” closes you off to the true situation and causes you to go into a defensive mode, ultimately hindering your success.
Whenever the ego is in charge, it’s only telling half the story—the story you currently view—and not the whole story taking into account other people’s perceptions and the facts behind the matter. Your ego is trying to protect you, but at the same time it’s blocking off reality. You become figuratively crippled because you’re unable to understand how you fit into the world.
The ego is there to help you and guide you. The key is not letting ego stand in the way of success when you experience fear, threat or embarrassment. Such feelings may be appropriate, but they’re not the whole story. Instead, try to become open to the whole story and react according to true reality, not your ego’s reality.
To keep your ego in check, ask yourself the following three questions when you first notice you feel fear, threat or embarrassment:
1. Is this the way it really is, or is this my response? Take a time-out to assess whether what you perceive is true, or if you’re reacting to someone who pushed one of your buttons. Failure to do so could interfere with your career and relationships. If an employer sees that you don’t have a hold on your ego and let others push your buttons, he or she will assume you’re not mature enough to hold a position that’s going to create more fear, threat, and embarrassment. Therefore, check in with yourself often.