You should know that my ego is huge. Really huge. Bigger than yours. It’s probably the biggest (and most handsome) ego out there.
And that’s great, because I’m a writer. But it’s also terrible, because I’m a writer.
Ego is something we’re taught to suppress. We’re trained from a young age that humility is a virtue to strive for, and ego will get us in trouble. Ego is the root of bad decisions, right? It blinds us to the truth by keeping our focus on our attributes and successes.
The problem I have with this philosophy is that ego is inherently tied to self-confidence, and by suppressing it, we’re subconsciously telling ourselves that we shouldn’t be proud of, or confident in, the things we’re best at.
Humility is a great trait to foster, but so is ego. It’s important – in everything we do – to have a healthy balance of both.
Why Ego is Important
I’m lucky. As a marketer, I get to pair art and business. I get to produce creatively, but strategize analytically.
Being a creator in a business setting comes with a great deal of natural humility. You’re given a constant stream of criticism; both constructive and otherwise. This is hard to get used to, but it’s important. It thickens your skin, but it also makes you a better producer. I look at marketing collateral I created a few years ago with no short supply of embarrassment. I’ve been criticized and critiqued in everything I do over the last several years, and because of that, I’m a much better writer, thinker, and creator. I’m sure that in another five years, I’ll look back at what I’m doing now and think “what the hell was wrong with me?”
And that’s where the ego comes in. It’s completely necessary. Without it, we’d just give up. No one can put as much thought, creativity, and effort into a project as you do in a business setting without having an emotional emotional connection to it.
Whether you’re a CMO working on a presentation deck for your quarterly board meeting, or a content writer outlining your newest ebook, you want it to be the best, and because of that, when you finally ship it; it’s the best.
You’re goddamn right it’s the best! You know that because you do the best work in your industry, and you’d put it up against anyone in the business. You’re creative and look at things in a different way than everyone else and this project shows that because you absolutely crushed it.
If you don’t feel that way, maybe you’re in the wrong line of work. Maybe it’s time to find something that you do take that kind of irrational pride in. You should have a big ego about what you do. It’s what you do!
Why Humility is Important
Ego is tied to self-confidence, but many times, it’s there as a mechanism to protect us from low self-esteem. Most of us with big egos are terrified of failure, and that’s where humility comes in.
I’m very familiar with humility. As a marketer who works for a company that makes marketing software, I get to learn from some of the most successful and creative marketers in the industry.
This is humbling, because my content (you remember, the stuff that I know is the best out there) is constantly being shown up by someone who’s been doing it longer, better, and more creatively.
I’m well aware of how much I still need to grow, and that’s humbling. I want to be as good as them. Hell, I want to be better than them. I know I can, and I know I will…because I have a massive ego.
My confidence might be misplaced, but that’s what keeps me hungry, creative, and eager to learn.
Without that humility, I wouldn’t know how much I need to grow to be as good as my ego tells me I am…and without that ego, I’d be as average as everyone else…and the thought of that is terrifying.