“The ego relies on the familiar. It is reluctant to experience the unknown, which is the very essence of life.” – Deepak Chopra
There is a fine line between confidence and ego. Sometimes the line can be blurred. It can feel thin and wobbly, requiring one to adopt balancing tricks as if walking along the tight rope without the safety net. Here’s the difference: Ego acts as a repellent, while confidence draws people in like a magnet. Leaders need to build and exude confidence while keeping their ego in check at all costs.
As human beings, we are attracted to confidence. The deeply-felt kind that inspires us to follow great leaders to the end of the earth. Yet, if you cross the line and go one shade darker, you often find it becomes ego instead of confidence.
Many are guilty of buying into the common misconception that ego and confidence are essentially the same thing. They equate both with a brazen attitude that’s seemingly unflappable under pressure. It’s even been said that taking on such an attitude at work will get you ahead in your career.
The reality, however, is that these two concepts are quite different. To have confidence is to have faith in your own abilities and believe in yourself, but the ego is something else, entirely. Unlike confidence, the ego operates out of self-interest. It seeks approval, accolades and validation at all costs in order to be seen as “right”. It is resistant to feedback and assigns motive where there isn’t any.
In the workplace, it is these very differences that will make or break your career. That’s because when you allow the ego to take over, bad behavior ensues. Suddenly no one can get the job done quite like you can and all sense of teamwork goes out the window. It’s one thing to work hard out of passion and a sincere dedication to results. It’s an entirely different thing to take on a self-righteous attitude and judge others along the way. Taking on such an egocentric outlook will close your mind to new solutions and inhibit you from the learning the lessons at hand. Growth will soon come to a halt, as will your contributions to the organization. From there, it’s just a matter of time before management grows tired of the drama and is left wondering what you bring to the table in terms of value and results.
Keeping your ego in check is necessary to excel and establish job security in any organization. Here’s how this can be achieved:
At the end of the day, confidence will get you ahead, but the ego will only hold you back. Recognizing the difference and acting accordingly is what separates the best and the brightest from the rest.