Let’s talk about ego. It can be seen as a bad
thing, as in ‘He/she has a big ego’. Some people do display too much ego, and it’s inappropriate to the situation. And then there are those who don’t appear to have enough. Very few people seem to get the balance right with a healthy sense of ego. A sense of self is an important quality, and awareness of ourselves definitely leads to insights which can help us serve others. I believe it is possible to achieve the right level of ego, or ‘egolibrium’, as I like to call it.
For the purposes of this article, let’s say that ego means having a decent level of self-belief and self-confidence. The goal, therefore, is to be confident but not overconfident or cocky. Think about someone you know who seems to display too much ego. They probably talk about themselves in glowing terms and boast about their accomplishments. When I hear authors, speakers or trainers shouting about their own self-worth, I cringe and wonder if they feel inadequate in some way and have something to prove. It is not a nice experience for those who have to listen to the hot air. If it makes you and others uncomfortable, then it is probably excessive. It is not ‘the done thing’ to blow one’s own trumpet. I have written about this at length over the past few years, and I have discovered that it is simply a cultural phenomenon; it is not considered acceptable (in the UK) to go on about one’s own strengths or achievements.
Poor self-belief can be equally counterproductive. Clients need to feel confident in our abilities and skills. If people are too self-effacing, clients may actually wonder if they are any good at what they do. Additionally, in this tricky economic climate, people are influenced by those who are visible and vocal. If you do not articulate your value, you may lose business to someone else who is seen as more knowledgeable or more impressive. I actually get upset with my published author clients if they do not promote themselves enough! So you need project the right amount of ‘ego’ in order to inspire confidence and trust in others.
The easiest way to get a sense of egolibrium is to take time out to consider your strengths. What are your best qualities? What are those special skills you have that really help your clients? If you have trouble coming up with enough evidence, ask some recent clients, good friends or mentors what you do best. Getting feedback is so valuable, and it reminds you that you are not working in a vacuum!
It’s also very important that you plan what and how you write and speak. If you are writing blogs, take extra care to ensure you achieve the tone you want. Not too bullish but not self-effacing either. Simply planning your communications with ego in mind helps you create the right result. Some people speak and write without thinking, don’t they? You have probably read their blogs and thought ‘Oh no, surely they don’t want to come across like that!’ However, a lot of people are not even aware that they are coming across as egotistical or that they are downplaying their value. Being aware of your own tone and the number of times you say ‘I’ is a very good start. I often do a last check on blogs and articles that I have written, to aim for the right tone and minimise any inflated copy.
Finally, even though you need to do the groundwork yourself, you can get other people to amplify your message, so that you do not have to sound boastful. Ensure that your staff, marketing partners and networking associates understand exactly how to spread the good word about you. Think through and write tweets that others will feel excited about re-tweeting. Give others solid information about how you add value. And most importantly, be open and honest. You can get friends or colleagues to check your writing or give you feedback on spoken communications. They may be surprised if you ask for this sort of ego-check, and it may even give them an idea about their own style.