When you start out as an entrepreneur, your passion, belief and enthusiasm will get others to believe in your vision and join you on an exciting adventure. However, once you’re up and running and things are going well, you need to be mindful of becoming a victim of your own success. Warren Munson talks about this danger in his book, ‘Evolve to Succeed’. He writes:
“In this phase there are many potential lessons to learn that will be essential in the future of the business, but quite often entrepreneurs can be so motivated and excited that they go forward gung-ho, all guns blazing without taking the time to reflect on what is happening. Without reflection, and working solely on intuition, all the possible lessons that could have been learned will go to waste. And with everyone’s heads down focusing solely on just getting the job done, the fantastic startup mentality will become diluted and fade. We call this frantic success.”
And what follows frantic success is the ‘danger zone’, where the entrepreneur starts to believe their own hype, and the pursuit of money becomes the primary cog driving the business. Unchecked, the entrepreneur will fall from the danger zone into the ‘valley of despair’, which is obviously a place no one wants to visit.
Here, the development of your business is either stunted or goes off in a negative direction, and you start to lose the people who believed so much in you when you first began.
This happens when you let your ego run amok. In small, controlled doses, the ego isn’t a bad thing—it gives you drive and pushes you to succeed; too much though, and you lose track of your original vision and your measure of success becomes skewed.
Here are 8 ways to avoid becoming a victim of your ego:
1. Never think you know it all
Adopting a beginner’s mindset works twofold. First, by remembering you were once a beginner will stop you from criticising or belittling people who are just starting out or might not know as much as you. Second, it’ll motivate to you keep pursuing knowledge by trying out a new skill or reading about a subject you’re unfamiliar with
2. Don’t let recognition and riches be your primary motivation
Do the work because you love it and because you couldn’t live without it. If what you’re doing has meaning and you happily get out of bed every morning with the thought of continuing, this is all that matters. Financial reward and acknowledgment should be the consequence of this, not the reason for it.
3. Focus on what you’re putting in, not what you will get out
Don’t let the outcome be what drives you. You can put in all the work to create something, but once it’s out in the world, you have no control over how it will be received, whether good or bad. Accept this. Positive results are what you’re striving for obviously, but what matters most is knowing that you’re realising your full potential.
4. Be kind
Kindness costs nothing, but its opposite could cost you everything. Whether it’s complimenting a colleague on a job well done, buying the cakes when it’s somebody’s birthday or taking the time to listen, kindness makes you happier, less stressed and more motivated. Plus, your team will willingly fight in the trenches with you.
5. Connect with nature
It’s difficult to get away from the material world. In business, you’re dealing with money and assets, and you’re connected to your electronic devices because they’re your professional lifeline. And while you’re entitled to enjoy the material fruits of your hard work, existing only in the world of your physical possessions—which is what your show-off ego wants you to do—will eventually disconnect you from a greater reality. Whether it’s a walk in the park, a hike or a vigorous mountain bike ride, or simply watching the night sky or the ocean, getting close to nature will humble you and change your perspective.
6. Be grateful
Expecting success and feeling entitled are very dangerous mindsets. Not only will they alienate you from valuable people, they actually reduce your drive because you fool yourself into thinking you don’t even have to try. Remind yourself daily of all the simple things in your life you’re thankful for. This’ll readjust your ego’s notions of success and failure.
7. Take responsibility
Not only is this the hallmark of a great leader, it’s the trait of someone who is willing to admit mistakes and be a better person because of them. When your ego is driving, everything is someone else’s fault and you’ll never forgive them for it either. Don’t be the person who can never accept when they’re wrong.
8. Let go
Much easier said than done because your ego wants full control of every outcome, but this is an impossible expectation. Micromanaging everything and everyone might make you feel powerful and infallible, but your lack of faith in others’ ability to do their job, and refusal to accept that things can go wrong, will end in staff dissatisfaction and your own burnout.
- Have you ever fallen into the valley of despair? What steps did you take to get out of it? Tell us below.