Seems many start with the desire to be successful. This desire then leads to ambition as our environment gives perspective to opportunities around us. This ambition then leads us to try new things and from our failures we learn and from our successes we gain motivation.
I recently had a long conversation with an extremely good friend where she made me think. She said this motivation has two effects. The positive side is the confidence to try for even larger goals, while the negative side leads to ego.
Ego seems to be prevalent in every culture. In Latin American culture, it is called machismo, in China it equates to “face” and in my culture in the USA it could be called bravado, respect or pride.
What is interesting to me is that it is not specific to men or women but instead with these wins and losses they both (Ego and Confidence) seem to grow simultaneously. As confidence grows we have the power to attain more material things, gain higher status and even have more attraction from the opposite sex. But at the same time the ego side grows to make us more callused to the feelings of others and more jaded to the world around us. So while confidence can be so positive, ego can be extremely dangerous.
I’ve seen ego destroy marriages, tear apart business relationships, make otherwise successful businesses unsuccessful and lead people to becoming an “island” of sorts. Instead of caring more for others, it’s easy to get this feeling that we are in fact the center of the universe and these accomplishments are somewhat tied to our personal being. Meaning, if we weren’t there, the successes would not have been possible.
So the question is how to balance these two seemingly opposite but connected forces? It’s obviously tough to realize when we are going too far from one side to another because the confidence allows us to see a path and make decisions based on past experiences so we feel “confident” about our ability to make decisions and stand alone if necessary. But that good ole’ ego then leads to not being a team player and doing things by the old adage of “my way or the highway”.
I don’t know the answer but I’d say the balance point is no matter how high we go in life or how many successes we have, to be surrounded by solid people whom we respect and listen to them. Take their opinions and let it shape you. Not just one person, but multiple people. I realize this is a luxury that everyone isn’t able to have at their fingertips, but seek these people out. They could be in your place of worship, above or below you in your office or in your family. Doesn’t matter where you find these “board members for life” as I call them, but consult with them just as you would a board of directors for a business. While making decisions use them as a sounding board. Of course at the end of the day, we are all free to make our own decisions but it’s so important to have an impartial voice in your corner. Someone who will listen objectively, ask specific questions about your goals and ambitions for the task at hand and knows you well enough to give advice specific to your situation.
Then it is our job to listen. To take this advice from multiple people and not let it inhibit us, but to take the good or possible from each person’s advice and let it propel us into positive action.
It seems to be a constant battle between gaining confidence and gaining ego so it’s not expected that we will wake up tomorrow and solve the problem of allowing our ego to grow too large. But we can work on it daily. We can work on growing into better people while at the same time learning from those around us. All the while keeping our eyes on that goal through which we were motivated in the first place. Seems we all have a goal for where we are headed in life, but the question is how do we get there?
And more importantly, what does it matter if we reach the goal and find ourselves alone because we have alienated our friends, loved-ones and/or co-workers?
Thus, we strive for balance….to move forward and become better human beings.