EGO, your biggest obstacle. Really?

I have been in the sales business all my life, and I have coached salespeople, sales managers, and business owners. But time after time, I stumble into the same obstacle to personal development: EGO. If I could give you only one piece of life advice, it would be: remove your ego from the picture — detach.

By detaching, viewing yourself as an observer, you will be able to make increasingly objective decisions. How easy it will become to evaluate what is essential for you — and what is inconsequential — will delight you. You can learn how to detach from your ego through mindfulness, and I have posted a fascinating video about that topic here.

Let’s delve a bit deeper into surrendering your ego.

My first question to you would be: How would you describe a professional?

I would say that a professional is someone who removes his ego from what he does.

When should you let go of your ego?

  1. To execute and complete work that would be difficult to deliver as your real self — if your personality were involved. Some professions require significant personal and emotional involvement. If you cannot separate your true self, your ego, from the one needed to do a particular job, the emotional burden will crush you.Imagine that you are a doctor who becomes deeply emotionally affected by your patients’ suffering. Or what if you were an actor who became overwhelmed by your role? Would you be an effective call center agent if you let the constant rejection you experienced cut you to the quick?

  2. To perform work requiring an objective approach and neutral treatment, e.g., a judge or police officer.Or, in a worst-case scenario, here is another reason to throw your ego out of the window:

  3. By compartmentalizing each aspect of a process, regard yourself responsible for a tiny bit of it to avoid feeling responsible for the final outcome. (I am open to discuss this point with you guys).

Your ego will keep you from creating a new business, learning new things, and capitalizing on new opportunities.

A close friend of mine owns an electrical (appliance) business — a successful one. He is also exceptionally inventive, fashioning handmade lamps from natural ingredients like stones, wood, and metal. He sells these beautiful lamps at exorbitant prices with substantial profit margins.

One day, I perused his website and realized that it was second-rate: simplistic, with minimal SEO. As I have flourished in this business for many years, I offered to sit with him and clarify how he could improve his business and start selling on third-party channels, such as Amazon. I promised to impart some useful advice — for free, of course, but only because he was my friend.

As soon as I arrived in Greece, I called him. He wanted to meet me the next day, but I couldn’t make it. I counter-offered the day after, but he was unavailable. At the end of the conversation, we decided to wait a week, then touch base to arrange when and where we could meet.

I expected him to call me, but he didn’t. I did not call him either because I thought, “Wait a second. I am the one with so much value to offer. Why should I be the one who calls back?” Yet, through experience, I had observed how suspicious people became when I tried to offer them my help, or how often they mistook me for someone with a hidden agenda when I approached them.

So after those experiences, I decided to let people choose if and when to receive my advice. Frankly, it’s a pity when I see so much lost opportunity out there — when I see people who could easily make a living, handsome profits, only by following my straightforward, practical advice, and they decide not to take it. My friend did not call me because his ego prevented him, causing him to miss out on invaluable business advice and a unique opportunity. Maybe he would be earning five figures by now if he had only called me, met with me, and applied my advice. But he did not.

Your ego does not let you see things the way they are; it blurs the picture, distorting reality. It tells you how things should have been, not how they are. That distortion alone will lead you to make the wrong assumptions and, thus, the wrong decisions.


Ego is the driving force


Isn’t ego the driving force providing us with a reason to move forward? Our world leaders, men with strong egos and opinions, challenge our long-established notions and understanding to pave the path to a better world (or a worse one). What drives them, if not the fulfillment of their egos?

The phrase Memores sumus vestri in mortale (Remember you are mortal) was whispered in the ears of victorious Roman emperors when they returned to Rome. The thrill of their victories inflated their egos, and the danger of thinking themselves immortal was real.

Ego is like fire; it can warm you on a cold night, help you cook, and light the darkness. But,  at the same time, it can burn you.

Follow Eastern philosophy, practice mindfulness, and learn to observe the emotions that inflate your ego and understand them. Create a healthy relationship with them and use them to your advantage. Let them be your driving force, but do not identify with them.

You are not your thoughts, and you are not the emotions associated with your ego. You are your spirit.

Alex Valassidis