Fundamental #6: Check Your Ego at the Door
The 30 Fundamentals that make up the “ConnectSMART Way” describe how we want to run our business – the way we treat our clients, the way we work with each other, and even the way we relate to our vendors and suppliers. They’re who we are and they’re the foundation of our success. They drive everything we do, every day. Each week we focus on a different fundamental and discuss in depth.[/content_box]
Fundamental #6: Check Your Ego at the Door
It’s not about you. Don’t let your ego get in the way of doing what’s best for the team. Worrying about who gets credit or taking things personally is counterproductive. Make sure every decision is based solely on advancing team goals.
This is the one fundamental that I think everyone agrees with the most – for everyone else! It’s funny how my initial reaction each time I read a fundamental is to hope that x-person really takes this week’s fundamental to heart and makes the changes I want to see. This in itself is ego. I relate everything to me. We all do that. We tell each other that “it isn’t about you” (and under our breath or in our subconscious it’s because we want it to be about us). I promise not to make this note an exposition of Freud’s id, ego and super ego, but what this fundamental means to me. It’s about me remember! J
There is an old joke that in Texas when you go to a bar the bouncer asks you if you have a gun on you. If you reply that you don’t he offers you one! Our egos are the same. It says ‘check your ego at the door’. Yep, I checked, it’s there, let’s go! Many times we exalt and excuse ego as a positive character trait. It is seen as confidence or self-assurance. I have no idea who John Donohue is but I really like what he said about ego being fear. It becomes a mask to hide our vulnerability. We all have an ego. The only question is what happens at the door. When we ‘check our ego’ do we invite it in? Tell it to stay behind, or just not make a scene?
When you think about it, our ego is usually the cause of conflict. Why do we feel misused, unappreciated, and abused? Usually it is because we deserve better. We know that ‘everyone needs to have their ego stroked’. What if we didn’t? Years ago I knew a preacher who epitomized the lack of ego more than anyone I have ever known. He had his name even legally changed to “Noah Nothing”. I will never forget him singing a song he wrote called “Nothing”. The main line was “I’m nothing, nothing at all.” This was not a pity party or looking for attention. He literally lived his life without ego. He was kind of a black Dalai Lama. A man with no pretense. As a result I don’t know of a single time he was ever offended.
I think this is especially difficult in our industry. We have a tendency to equate our value and self -worth with what we know. We don’t naturally take well to challenges that we might be wrong because we think this minimizes us. “Haters gonna hate” is easy to say, but we still take it personally. Confidence doesn’t require us dig our heels in and get obnoxious. Think about Einstein’s perspective that the more ego becomes involved the less you actually know what you are talking about the next time you start to think “They can’t talk to me like that! I deserve better…”. I am not trivializing that you might deserve better, again I am talking to your response. Years ago when we were having difficulties in dealing with my oldest son we found a book by Dr. Greg Cynamoun called “Discovering your child’s DQ factor”. I won’t bore you with all of the details, but basically the study’s that he conducted were based on how YOU felt in your interactions with your children as a base line of their personality, not their actions. It changed the perspective of how I see my kids. It showed us how much our reaction is more indicative of what is going on than how they are acting. This is how I see the ego discussion. It really is all about you – what is YOUR response? Whether or not it is justified through the circumstances matters less than how it is making your react.
So check your ego at the door this week. Tell him to sit down and take a load off. Don’t let him get involved in the interactions at the office. See how well we can all perform together without that monkey on our back dictating how we react to each situation. I think you will find a new level of objectivity and a breakthrough in your own personal life. Who knows, you might even find out something about yourself that you didn’t know before.