As you progress in your leadership career and grow in influence, rank, and stature, never lose sight of the fact that you’re just a speck in an infinite universe, like every other human being who ever lived. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, how many people you lead, or how many grand achievements you amass; you will meet the same fate as everyone else.
…your ego is both your greatest ally and worst enemy.
Regardless of stature, no one escapes the descending ceiling which closes upon each of us, mercilessly, with each passing day. The old Italian proverb sums it up well, “At the end of the game, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.”
The Ego’s Default Mode
Faced with its mortality, what’s an ego to do? Precisely what it’s always done! It protects you from harm and danger. Self-preservation is the ego’s most basic function. Even if it means defending you from inescapable realities like your imperfections. In this way, your ego is both your greatest ally and worst enemy. Without self-discipline and humility, which I explain in my book, “The Leadership Killer: Reclaiming Humility in an Age of Arrogance,” co-authored with Captain John R. Havlik, US Navy Seal (retired)–your ego can come to inflate your sense of self to the point where all that matters is gratifying your own needs, prioritizing your desires, and perpetuating your leadership existence.
…the only one who can deflate your ego is YOU.
The ego can puff up your self-importance until you come to view those around you as irrelevant and expendable. The bigger the ego gets, the more objectified and insignificant others will become unless they have big egos. In which case, you’ll view them as competitive threats which, driven by their ego and insecurities, could puncture the thin membrane of your leadership facade.
Humility Vs. Ego
How you keep hubris in check is by grounding yourself in humility and deep gratitude for what you have achieved and what you have to offer future leaders. Don’t let your ego get the best of you. Because shockingly, when it comes down to it, no one is as special as they want to think they are. That recognition is how we humble ourselves, how we humble ourselves to others and ourselves. And, the only one who can deflate your ego is YOU.