If you’re human then you have an ego. It’s healthy to feed it from time to time with positive affirmations and careful, honest introspection. If you’re a leader then one of your responsibilities is to also feed the ego of your people. Small portions are definitely recommended here. Positive, thoughtful recognition will help your people stay engaged in your organization. It also motivates them to consistently give their best effort.
The problem with an ego begins when it’s over fed. Even a little too much “ego food” can cause us to look like a boring braggart. It can make you seem like a person who thinks they are better than anyone around them. It’s a good idea to periodically, or even frequently, get on the ego scale. You need to make certain yours isn’t getting a little too big.
Here’s a few thoughts on keeping your ego in check.
- Become aware of your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This will help you recognize when your ego is taking over and when you need to take a step back from the ego buffet table.
- Humility is the opposite of ego. Practice humility by acknowledging your weaknesses. Always be open to feedback. Invest time to show appreciation for others. If you find it difficult to be humble I’d suggest you refer back to point #1.
- Be mindful of your actions and words. Pay attention to the way you interact with others. Avoid dominating conversations, belittling others, or boasting about your accomplishments. If you need to constantly tell people how good you are at something it’s most likely that you’re actually not all that good. If you’re actually good at something other people will tell you, you won’t have to tell them.
- Adopt a growth mindset. Focus on learning and improving rather than proving yourself or being right all the time. If by some small chance, you actually are the smartest person in the room then you may want to consider finding yourself a different room.
- Practice empathy: Empathy allows you to understand and relate to others, which can help you keep your ego in check. When you practice empathy, you are less likely to put your needs and desires above those of others.
- Surround yourself with people who challenge you. Being around people who have different perspectives and skills can help you stay humble and open-minded. When you are frequently around incredibly smart people it’s like being on an ego diet.
- Start each day by considering what you have to be grateful for. Cultivating a sense of gratitude can help you appreciate the contributions of others. It will help you reduce the need to constantly prove yourself. And by the way, never miss an opportunity to tell people why you’re grateful to have them in your life. You may make their day and it’s highly likely you’ll make your own as well.
When you put these ideas into practice you can keep your ego in check and develop stronger relationships with others. And that is always a good thing!
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