My mother used to tell me time and again how my huge ego will be the death of me. I was too young and damn big-headed to listen. The thing is I did not understand what she was always going on about with this ego nonsense talk.
Fast forwards, years later I took the time to read up and get a bit of understanding what ego really is and what sort of effects it has on someone. Using some personal examples, here is a simple breakdown.
You see, when I was growing up I was that stubborn kid that played too much in class but somehow never failed the exams. The kid that never cared to read/revise as much but got good marks. This got to my head, making me feel like I am one of the smartest people. Until I got one point in the first term, senior five in Ntare School. My excuse for that was, I spent a third of the term trying to figure out which combination to do. I was given PCB/A, but I felt it wasn’t for me so I tried PEM for some time, then PCM for another number of weeks and finally crawled back to PCB/A where I got FFF0 for my first term report card. The actual reason I failed so miserably was that I opted to sleep, sneak out of school and go clubbing, and play golf instead of doing what everyone else was doing – focus on my school work.
The sad part is that I did not learn a thing from that failure. I managed to change my grades around and get fairly good grades to get to University.
At University for a Bachelors Degree in Information Technology and the same cycle happened again. I got a 4.64 GP (First Class) in the first semester and my ego kicked in. Instead of going to lectures in the second semester, I spent hours playing Computer games in the hostel. The game that took most of my time was called DIABLO. Report time and I had a 3.3 GP which was a second class lower. Sadly, I missed getting a first-class by 0.01 because of that major drop for the second semester.
This was all due to my ego, I will show you how. There are three stages of life where ego comes in play
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when you have work to do but instead of getting the work done, you get preoccupied with talk. Talk and hype replace action. In our current era, tweeting, Instagram, and WhatsApp take up all your time – you are busy updating the world about your plans and ambitions instead of getting started on them. This is what I suffered from while in high school. Wasting time bouncing around in different classes instead of focusing on the one class that I had to do.
This is what I suffered from at University second semester. I was convinced of my smartness and this eroded my will to work for continued success.
We stop learning, we stop listening, and we lose our grasp on what matters. We become victims of ourselves and the competition. Sobriety, open-mindedness, organization, and purpose—these are the great stabilizers. They balance out the ego and pride that comes with achievement and recognition.– Ryan Holiday
This is what I was going through for the major part of 2019. I wasn’t failing parse but there was a lot of changes in my life that affected my finances. This meant that I had to drop some of the things I used to spend money on. Instead of allowing and accepting my situation, I opted to isolate myself, ended up being bitter with some people as if they were the blame for my situation.
Just like success is ego intoxication, loss or failure can be a huge ego blow.
One key thing to note is that, during this phase in life, one does need pity— even from themselves or anyone else’s— What they need is purpose, poise, and patience.
How do we prevent the ego from ruining us?
There is only major or possibly only solution to the ego;
Find a plus that is better than you. This helps to tame the success ego. When you achieve noteworthy success, you need to be reminded that there are still people who have achieved much more than you – basically you need a dose of humility.
The important thing here is to remember how small you are (- trips to around the world or simply visiting and getting a drink with someone better than you should remind you of this), and that there are people who are achieving more than you are in some way but most importantly keep learning.
Find someone who you are better than to teach. This helps with failure induced ego. When you encounter failure, the ego wants to have a pity party and seek revenge, both of which slow your progress. Instead, identify how you can use the failure to teach others.
Through teaching others about failure with your own experience, this changes how you view failure. Failure becomes a lesson that both you and the minus learn from.
Remember the aspiring ego? This is the solution.
Aspiring to do great things, means avoiding being caught up in what everyone else does. Only be concerned with what a few people you respect and aspire to be like think. Find a peer, a friend that inspires you and challenges you, then spend time around him or her or people like him or her.
Ego prefers talk and hype instead of getting work done. The pressure to keep up with the people that inspire you will make you do more work than talk. Develop a strong peer group that keeps you accountable.
There you have it, solutions on how to kick the shit out of the ego that cripples our success and growth.
PS. Two days ago, a friend (Andrew Ankunda) said something that I am still trying to fully wrap my head around. He said, as a society, we are the cause of the ego issue. From childhood, we are brought up with an entitlement attitude. My toys, my mum, my dad… then it becomes my girlfriend, my car… then my job, my wife, my lane… He said the moment you find yourself thinking “my”, “Me”, “I”, then be careful, it is possibly your ego coming into play. I will probably pick this conversation up with him again one of these days to fully understand this more.
PSS. I would be more than happy to read what your thoughts are about this. Please share in the comments below.