By Julia Aquino-Serrano
I love entrepreneurs. I love their energy, their confidence, and their lack of fear. These are the traits that move them forward and create their momentum for success.
Oftentimes their egos are as big as their energy – contributing to their confidence and lack of fear. In essence, ego is important to an entrepreneur’s initial success and willingness to overcome the obstacles that are so much a part of the startup process.
So, when does the ego become a hindrance? When it shuts down the entrepreneur’s ability to “see” and “hear” the truth. In my experience, this is the transition from successful launch to self-destruction.
How the Ego Works
The ego moves the project forward and the business starts to gain momentum. The cash starts flowing in and everything seems to go just right. The entrepreneur gains more and more confidence in the process. The company grows and grows. And then . . . (listen for the screeching halt.).
Things start getting chaotic. But, the entrepreneur blames the chaos on how awesome they are and how quickly the company is growing – which is only partially accurate. Employees begin to complain about the chaos and lack of processes; customers lament about “how it used to be so much better before now” . . . and the entrepreneur explains, “It is just a result of our continuous, fast growth! We’re growing at 40 percent. Isn’t that great?”
This is when the delusion begins.
Those dedicated employees offer some solutions to the chaos, but the entrepreneur thinks, “Thanks, but no thanks. I know what I’m doing. I got us this far.” Again, only partially accurate.
The money continues, but cash flow starts to become an issue. Top line is growing though, which continues the ego’s story. Finally, even the entrepreneur starts to realize he may need some outside assistance or a stronger staff. But, the advice that comes falls on deaf ears as the entrepreneur thinks, “Why do I need to change? I got us here, didn’t I?”
Here is the truth — what got you here, won’t necessarily get you there!
Ego is the “I”
So, what exactly is ego? Ego is the “I,” the “me.” It’s the “I” who came up with the idea and grew the business. It’s the “I” that was fearless in the face of obstacles and roadblocks. It’s a major part of the success of the company.
Unfortunately, the ego is also the “I” in “I know best.” The “I” wouldn’t be where I am if I wasn’t so smart. The “I” got this company to where it is today, so “I” don’t need anyone else. The “I” doesn’t believe anyone else can do what they do.
When the company fails, however, the ego is willing to relinquish the “I” to “they” didn’t follow through, and “they” didn’t provide the funding, or “they” stole from me. Hopefully, the ego is reined in prior to something so drastic.
Reining in the Ego
As I said earlier, the ego is a requirement for initial success, and it is a great tool for creating a successful company. However, like a tool, it has to be used properly and consciously.
To develop truly sustainable success, the entrepreneur must move into being a “leader.” The ego has to take a back seat to humility, openness, active listening, and seeing the truth. If something is not working perfectly in your business, look at it – be open to the possibility of imperfection, which opens the door to opportunity: opportunity to learn, opportunity to correct, and opportunity to move the company forward.
Ego becomes dysfunctional when we judge what isn’t working as a reflection on ourselves. The key word is “judge.” In our businesses, “opportunities” for improvement and change are opportunities for growth and success. Take the judgment out of the equation and replace it with vision.
So, you ask, how can I effect this change in my ego? Simple. Just change your perspective. There should be great pride in your accomplishments! Maybe even some gratitude.
Then, sprinkle in some humility, open your mind to the challenges – and then, and only then – bring in that ego (that reminds you how clever you are) to find great solutions and amazing people to assist in the implementation of those solutions.
About the Author
Post by: Julia Aquino-Serrano
A hard-working mom, breast cancer survivor, and entrepreneur, Julia Aquino-Serrano has spent over 20 years on all sides of the business world – running her own company, as a corporate executive, and as a sought-after consultant to “fix” broken companies. Now, with her wealth of experience in financial and operations management and process development, Julia helps entrepreneurs and small businesses grow through the growing pains to take their businesses to the next level. As the founder and CEO of All Systems Grow, her consulting firm and Learning Center gives organizations the tools necessary to create effective systems and processes, cultivate accountable cultures, implement sound strategies, and align executive leaders towards common goals and operational excellence.
Company: All Systems Grow
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