Ego. Our sense of self worth. The imperative self-esteem that powers us through every struggle of every day. Too much ego, and people may accuse you of being a big blowhard, self-important fat head. We think too much of ourselves and we talk too much about ourselves. Not enough ego, and sadly we don’t think enough of ourselves. We don’t think we think we are good enough to celebrate important achievements and successes. What is the balance? How much of our ego should we embrace?
Let’s admit it. Ego is a good thing. Ego gives us the confidence to get out of bed each morning. Our ego helps us to get dressed, look in the mirror and walk out that front door to face the challenges of the day. Our ego gives us confidence to help us to be good at our work. We know we are going to be seen by the world, and our ego makes that OK. Ego is also what helps us to create.
Sometimes, though, we let our ego get away from us. We see celebrities and artists interviewed on TV, and we can’t help but to think how full of themselves they must be. They talk about their inspiration, their work, their audiences and their fans. Who do these celebrities and artists think they are? All they do is talk about themselves! we think to ourselves. But we forget, if not for their ego, we would not have their art to enjoy. Of course they have a big ego. At one point, each and every one of them said something truly audacious and unbelievable to themselves.
The world needs to hear my music.
People need to see me on stage.
Everybody needs to be able to read my book.
And thank goodness for that ego, because without that ego I would not be able to enjoy the writing of John Steinbeck, or the music of Bruce Springsteen. Meryl Streep would have never appeared on film, and Pablo Picasso would have never taken a paint brush to canvas. At some point, each of those people embraced their ego so that the world had wonderful opportunity to see what they could do.
Yes, they have big egos, and it is that outsized feeling of self-esteem that helped their careers grow and made them so successful. Too often, we forget how our ego can help our own careers. Too often, we forget that embracing and celebrating our ego can result in personal and professional growth and success. Our ego can help us grow and develop.
Okay, I’ll go first. I have a big ego. A big, fat healthy ego.
Twice a week, I sit down at my computer and write for my blog. I write about music, technology and networking. Things that I care about, things that I feel I know about, and things that I tell myself other people will want to read about. I have spoken in front of large groups. I have played my guitar on stage. I have taught, I have led, and I get out of bed each day, get dressed, go to work and share my skills and talents (such as they are) with the world.
What about you? It’s time to get to work. Embrace your ego.
I have a friend who is trying to take her career to the next level, and she recently had some wonderful success, but she is hesitant to share news of those successes on social media. “That’s just not me” she says. “I don’t like to talk about myself.” This is where I get passionate.
It’s okay, maybe even necessary, to share news of our accomplishments as we are trying to grow in our career or improve our lives. We don’t want to be boastful, too repetitive or self congratulatory, but we do need to embrace our ego. We need to be proud. We need to be comfortable with our success so we can share the good news.
If a musician is trying to get their music heard, and they were asked to perform in a show, that news should be shared. If I am a mid-level manager, and I was asked to present at an important conference, that news should be shared. If someone is starting out in a new career, and their talent was formally recognized at work, that news should be shared.
Let your ego freak flag fly! Shout the good news from the mountaintops. Share the good news. Make people in all corners of your life aware of the work you have done. When your friends, relatives and colleagues are aware of your good work, they can start to connect the dots. More introductions will be made, more opportunities will occur, and your network will expand in ways you may not expect. Make people aware of your skills and achievements.
These posts you make, this news you share, can also now serve as the data points you need to chart a course for a new direction, because we are not sharing this news just once.
If my friend who is trying to take her career to the next level is asked to make a presentation at work, I would encourage her to write a blog post about that presentation, which she can then share on LinkedIn and Facebook. Now her friends and colleagues know.
Next, she is planning to attend a conference, and there is a call for workshop idea submissions. Now, my friend can link back to that blog post to help show why she would be a good choice to be a presenter. Based on that blog post, she is asked to present, and is able to make a number of valuable connections as a result.
Does she have a healthy ego? Of course (hey, she got out of bed and went to work that day…of course she has a healthy ego!), but she is also being smart, strategic, and now she is being successful in some unexpected and exciting ways. Think of your ego as the engine that is building your online resume. What should people know about you? What are the experiences, successes and achievements that have been part of your upward trajectory?
As you empower your ego to be the voice of your social networking activity, do so with empathy. Consider how other people like to see the news you want to share and the accomplishments you want to celebrate. Ask yourself if you are sharing too frequently, or too loudly. If someone else was sharing good news, how might you like to see that Facebook post, blog, or Tweet? If you err, I advise you err on the side of sharing. Err on the side of creating valuable data points and connection opportunities based on the good work you have done, and the great success you have had.
Don’t be shy. Share the news. Embrace your ego…your big, fat healthy ego.