by Angela Kambouris
No matter who you talk to about entrepreneurship, there are two things that stand out – humility and ego. Successful entrepreneurs understand that you need a healthy dose of both. The right balance of ego and humility can make a difference.
As an entrepreneur, you bring to life a new business model, idea, or vision. A level of self-confidence is required to transcend what you are likely to face. How many times do you prepare for a big investor meeting and after your well-rehearsed pitch, they dismiss your ideas as “ok”? Your ego shrivels when you are told that your baby is ugly. At this point, the entrepreneur’s ego can your best friend or your worst nightmare.
Every day you will face rejection, and, in many cases, it is just the nature of the entrepreneurial beast. You have heard the stories of rejection from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders – Oprah, J.K. Rowling, Walt Disney, and Ariana Huffington. The more audacious the goal, the more you need your ego to stay true to the vision.
Here are 7 principles to keep the entrepreneurial ego in check.
1. Imperfection is a gift
It is critical that you understand, recognize, acknowledge and embrace your flaws and business shortcomings. When you first start, you think if you don’t know something or the business can’t do something, it is a flaw. When you acknowledge that you don’t know it is a blessing. The day you understand and acknowledge your limits and embrace the power of learning is the day you make great progress.
2. Student’s mindset
One way to curtail our ego is to always apply a student’s mindset. Those who consistently achieve greatness exert the greatest humility and admit how little they really know.
As a leader when you don’t let your ego get in the way of your ambitions you are able to learn more and lead better. Working from the platform that you aren’t always right, you maximize opportunities to push the boundaries of what is possible. When you fight your ego, you remain a student and will constantly absorb new knowledge that enhances your decision-making abilities.
3. Humility is so 21st century
Humility is a trait of strong leaders. The type of leader employees want to work for and investors want to fund. Being humble and acknowledging the error of your ways is also a great way to build trust and credibility. Humility needs to be balanced with a sense of confidence. If not balanced, you can undermine the team’s belief in you and in the business. Humility must be genuine as when leaders genuinely acknowledge mistakes or deficits in an area, it inspires others to discover their own confidence to act, take risks, and evaluate their own challenges. This leads to genuine improvement and self-development that will have ripples within the business. Remember, it always starts with you.
4. No magic formula
There is no magic formula for how you mix ego and humility, you just know it when you see it. However, there are principles that can guide you both can play together. As a business leader, you are there to serve your people – employees, clients, investors, and partners. Leaders are always thinking about how they can serve the needs of others and not their own. Inviting people to join your vision, invest money, sacrifice their time, and trust you with their business is to embrace the responsibility that you are there to serve them. Given it starts with you, the entrepreneur must honor their responsibility, and embrace the opportunity to serve their people every day.
5. Celebrate your wins
Learning from mistakes is important, and celebrating wins is crucial. When you celebrate, your brain release dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. The brain’s “happy chemicals” – dopamine – surge after you accomplish a goal or feel successful. On the flip side, low levels of dopamine are connected to procrastination and a lack of work ethic. Serotonin reduces anxiety and depression as it contributes to your overall feeling of happiness. Thinking of a happy memory can give you a little boost as can getting a bit of sunshine during the day. Endorphins give you that feeling of an energy rush.
Achieving and celebrating a goal creates a feedback loop of joy in your brain, resulting in all these chemicals being released and allowing you to experience feelings of happiness, joy, and excitement.
6. Execution is the game
Sometimes the best ideas come at the worst time but not acting could mean limiting your future. Evaluate your idea and find the time to make progress every day.
Many entrepreneurs go through a few ideas or more that end up being absolute failures before finding an idea that works and creates “overnight success”. Milton Hershey, founder of Hershey Chocolate went bankrupt two separate times before he invented caramel candies and turned Hershey into the multi-billion-dollar company it is today.
7. Record your mistakes
The Zeigarnik effect was discovered in the 1920s and still holds today. It found that out brains remember upcoming tasks we haven’t started yet better than ones we have already done. Writing things down improves memory. People who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them. Keeping a list of your mistakes is part of learning and growing.
Success requires determination to get you to the finish line. Treating every experience as a learning one, embodying the attitude that mistakes are your greatest source of learning, and stepping into gratitude for your experiences is the platform to keep your ego in check and amplify your success.
Angela Kambouris built a high-level career as an executive in the field of vulnerability and trauma. A global leadership consultant and founder of Evoluccion Consulting Agency, she helps organizations to increase the abilities of their operations, improve the performance of their employees and build a stronger company culture. Angela writes for large publications, coaches, and trains on the power of leadership, executive presence, cultivating high-performing teams, and leading people-centric cultures. Let’s connect!