February 11, 2014

Your ego is not your amigo

Having something to blog about is normally a result of conversation with a friend. Usually in a noisy pub. Then sparks fly and I’m ready hammer the keyboard with BIG THOUGHTS (or not that big).

So the other night I was catching up with a lovely old friend and I asked how her day was at work.

Me: So, how was your day? *sips beer*

Friend: Oh god, it was mental. I spent the day in the middle of so many egos. They were flying at me and I was just in the middle of them. Managing and protecting all of these different egos. Ego’s everywhere. 

Me: *Laughs and chuckles*

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So, this got me thinking. As much as I abhor anyone who laughs in the face of “lazy, arrogant Millenials”, (oi, call me by my name!), sadly, there have been sightings of these types of big M’s around. 

Millenials have got a pretty bad name, especially in the work place. They’ve got off on the wrong foot, you see. Often described as “egotistical,” “demanding”, “lazy” or the most cutting: “a victim of their parent’s success”. Some of this may indeed be true in cases. But like any minority or majority group of society, some give the rest of us a bad name.

Remember that thing that went VIRAL about Generation Y thinking they are so unbelievably special? As they get catapulted into the working world they instantly think they are the dogs b*llocks, with nothing to show for it?

Here’s a quote from it:

“Unfortunately, (sorry Gen Y’ers!) the funny thing about the world is that it turns out to not be that easy of a place, and the weird thing about careers is that they’re actually quite hard. Great careers take years of blood, sweat and tears to build — even the ones with no flowers or unicorns on them — and even the most successful people are rarely doing anything that great in their early or mid-20s.”

i.e this author is saying “LOSE THE EGO”.

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But companies are brimming with them – I don’t know if it’s totally their fault – maybe they WERE brought up to think they could be the president by the time they could walk, and maybe it’s good that they think they can. 

But, this brings me onto a phrase I heard during the first company meeting at my very first job: The CEO stood up on a chair with these words branded on the screen in a blood red font:

We hire TALENT, not EGOS”.

It really, really stuck with me. Because that night I went home and did some thinking. I obviously know what these words meant, but I found the difference between the two words very interesting. What exactly is ‘talent’ and what is ‘ego’, and what makes them so counter productive?

In a nutshell: a quick success or called-out talent can dangerously lead to inflated egos – this we know. But there has been countless studies that indicate that a rise in ego, too early or with no real substance can lead to a sudden dip in success. It’s a massive barrier, to both working relationships and own development.

The interesting part is that often these two things can be confused. People can mistake one for the other. They are essentially, on the surface, twins. How many times have you heard someone cry out: “So-and-so is ALL EGO!”

Covering up lack of knowledge through a big ego is almost a magic power. Like Voldemort.

This study by Inc called “Don’t Let Your Ego Hijack Your Leadership Effectiveness” is also a very good read. 

So what is the sign of a genuinely talented person, with a normal-sized ego that is not yet a walking-talking monster?

  • They won’t hog all the credit, even if they deserve it all
  • They won’t have to fluff themselves in public situations to prove how awesome they are
  • They care less about what people think of them, and more about the job they are doing
  • They will listen more than they talk 
  • They will openly ask questions if unsure instead of covering it up 
  • They grow and develop quickly because they foster their relationships rather than compare themselves to others
  • They  generally will make better decisions as they don’t have a big ego blocking out all other options apart from their own.

Just some observations. That is what a blog is for, right?  xoxox

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