In any business, the main decision-makers are the heads and the owners, but decision-making itself is a tough process. There are many factors to consider, people to keep in mind, and your business’ well-being to look out for.
However, there may be times that you just jump into a decision, regardless of the consequences or of the other factors. This can be a good sign of confidence and competence, but this can also mean that you are making decisions based on your ego.
When push comes to shove – essentially, when decisions are tough and you are torn between choices – you may let your ego take over and make the decisions for you. This shouldn’t be the case – lest you decide on a matter that can mean the difference between business success and total downfall!
But why should it matter, and more importantly, how can you know if you are deciding with your ego?
What is Ego?
Ego, simply defined, is a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. In psychoanalysis, it is the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and unconscious – responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. Ego is the part of your identity that you consider as your “self”, your personality, and acts as a mediator between us and our social and physical environment.
How does Ego Affect Us?
According to YourDost.com, ego can be held responsible for many negative traits, including but not limited to:
Criticising and judging others;
Being inflexible, stubborn, and rigid;
Having severe mood swings;
Possessing a constant need for praise and approval;
Need to feel superior to everyone around;
Feeling fearful or anxious;
Taking things too seriously;
Taking offense easily;
Constantly worrying little things;
Feeling resentful towards others;
Inability to live in the present;
Feelings of hopelessness and despair, and;
The need for power and control over others
Ego makes a person focus only on the aspects of the physical world that matters to them immediately, without consideration for peace, harmony, or happiness – especially of others. It drives people to feel superior and constantly right.
Anything that contradicts this perspective is seen as the fault of others or of their surroundings, never their own. As Michelle Ploog puts it, “The ego-mind isn’t contributing to humanity and isn’t able to look at the world as a whole. It’s only able to look at a fragmented piece of the whole that it identifies as “Me”.”
These negative traits can have very serious consequences for anyone who does not know how to diagnose the signs of an ego-fueled reaction or decision and it can easily make any person’s life a misery.
Why You Can’t Let Ego Make Tough Decisions
All in all, the centre of ego is the self and everything that directly concerns it. Ego makes us see past the concerns of others and just focus on ourselves, which can potentially be devastating depending on the severity of your decisions.
For example, undertaking a project that would require large sums of capital and a huge working force without considering the resources you have at hand now just because it was a request from a person that you are seeking to impress can potentially turn into a messy, risky affair.
Ego can also affect your relationships with other people, which is ill-advised especially in a business setting. Because ego makes us want to exert our superiority over others, we create conflict with others who do not like to be controlled or belittled. Likewise, always searching for approval from others can make us seem like we are trying too hard to be liked or fit in.
When ego runs the show, you are out of touch with reality. You turn a blind eye to anything that may potentially upset your sense of self or the image you have of yourself, which prevents you from hearing critical but necessary feedback. It makes you overestimate your capabilities and worth, and at the same time underestimate the effort and skill you need to achieve your goals.
This can lead you to feel a wrong sense of entitlement – “What’s mine should be mine because I deserve it.” – because of your perceived past efforts. Ego also makes you dependent on external validation – either in the form of praises, rewards, compensations, and even social media interactions and engagement. And it becomes a vicious cycle that can damage not only you but your relationships with others and potentially with how you run or function in your company.
How Do I Know if Ego is My Driving Force?
Cy Wakeman recommends asking yourself these questions in order to figure out if you are letting your ego drive your actions at work:
Do you worry excessively that you might offend others in the course of your daily job?
Do you have a difficult time finalizing decisions because you continue building consensus long after already have the information you need?
Do you avoid confrontation to the point of making extra work for yourself or others?
Do you often think resentful thoughts such as “This place would fall apart without me” or “People have no respect for what my job entails”?
Do you have trouble saying no, even to tasks that detract from your core responsibilities?
If you answered yes to more than one of the questions, you may be letting ego dictate your decisions and actions. In this case, it’s wise to take a step back and reassess your actions to find out how you really should approach a situation without needing to rely on your ego
You can start with small things and make a conscious reminder to yourself on how to react. If you worry too much about how others may be affected by your words, you can start reminding yourself that they are not there to judge your every move or opinion and that others around you are willing to listen objectively if you approach them with the same respect. If you always strive to be right, try to strive to learn more instead – you may not always be right, but you can always learn.
By keeping your thoughts and motivations in check, you are essentially training your ego to be a lesser part of your decision-making. And with your ego playing less of a role in your decisions, you will be able to come to a more objective, more progressive resolution.