An Ego-check for Entrepreneurs

Farzana Suri, Victory Coach 

Entrepreneurial life isn’t easy. For those, who like me stumbled into it are likely to understand how tenacious you need to be when you are stripped off the pedigree of the organisation you represented in the ‘good old employment days’. You stand alone yet not. You stand with your belief and passion to make a difference to the world with your unique product or service.

The challenges that boomerang you from places unimagined. You bend, you fall and at times, you may break – only to reconstruct and stand up, taller or smaller. You receive lessons from the universe of the perils of relying too much on others or being uncaring about the way you squander resources. It’s a winding, rocky, bumpy, obstacle-ridden and unpredictable road and the attitude with which you carry yourself defines your victory.

While no two entrepreneurs are the same, however what aligns most is their vision to create a world that is different, an appetite for risk and ability to handle the risks that come with entrepreneurship. And, the most critical ingredient, a healthy ego. You may call it self-belief, will and determination or the drive to make things happen as a leader. There’s a fine line dividing healthy ego from the obnoxious. Some entrepreneurs can easily get carried away by success and see themselves as ‘greater’ than the others. Because success in life involves multiple factors. It isn’t just you. It’s the people rallying for you, the clients who put their faith in you, your partners, vendors who stand by you and the penultimate; being in the right place, at the right time with the right people.

Egos are strange beings. It comes to life as the ‘I’ in the personality. It can inflate and overwhelm. Like equestrian, you need to rein the ego like you would, a thoroughbred horse in the derby.

As an entrepreneur from time to time, I put myself through the Ego-check to remain grounded.

  1. Humility

The one thing that keeps the ego in control, I have learnt hard and hurriedly, is humility. Could Facebook or Microsoft have achieved any of their victories, alone? I doubt it.

Humility is a pro-social quality and has the ability to mend fences, open doors and embrace growth.

  1. Acknowledge your prejudices

An entrepreneur I knew, wouldn’t sell to a particular religious group in a vicinity that had a high population of that community. He was in effect, declining business. Had he opened his mind and seen them as mere customers, would he not have increased his sales and been successful? Keep an open mind. Look for similarities instead of differences.

  1. Active Listening

The ego insists on deafening voices around you. There are other perspectives and ideas. You may not agree to it, however listening allows people to feel heard and therefore, respected. You won’t find yourself carrying the burden of thought. Know when to speak and when to listen.

  1. Seek Feedback

Feedback is a great reality check to acknowledge your strengths and improve on weaknesses. Use the opportunity to learn and correct. It reflects an environment of transparency and openness to those working alongside you.

  1. Consult your team

Your ego may make you think your ideas are the best.  Using the collective intelligence of your team is likely to generate more and perhaps better ideas compared to doing it all alone. In fact, running it past your team provides a shared purpose. It will align them towards the goal/project and get them as excited as you are to achieve it.

  1. Accept failure

The blame game is when the ‘I’ makes way for ‘they’. Accountability towards your actions comes when you stand up for your team – in victory and failure, alike. That’s true and effective leadership.

  1. Be teachable

Learn to assess when is it time to follow and when to lead. Keep aside the ‘I-know-it-all’ attitude. Gain the ability to learn from those who are not in positions of power however, possess a fount of knowledge.

  1. Let your accomplishments speak for themselves

You don’t need to toot your own horn. Your achievements will create their own music and it will follow or precede you, far and wide.

  1. Stop comparing

Ego thrives on comparison and envy. The insinuating superiority echoed by fear, to divide. Be in awareness of this. There is only one unique, you. Strive to compete with yourself. Use your energy to drive yourself towards triumph. Have the wisdom to recognise when your ego is controlling your script.

People don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care. Be human, real and confident. Ego is a healthy internal reserve needed to achieve goals in today’s competitive environment. But when it takes over and attributes your success to yours alone negating the contribution of others, it can slip from being the precious crown on your head and morph into a noose.

Look past the fake lustre of an unhealthy ego with humility to walk towards victory.

Farzana Suri is a Victory Coach and Corporate Trainer residing in Mumbai, India. Visit www.farzanasuri.com for more details. Or reach her on mail@farzanasuri.com