I just finished reading The Practice by Seth Godin. Seth is one of my favourite authors, and I always value his insight on doing the work, but most importantly, shipping the work.
One part of his book that really resonated with me was part 184: Egomania versus Ego Strength. “We talk about ego like it’s a bad thing. Egomania is a bad thing. It’s the narcissism that comes from only seeing yourself, from believing that you are immortal, invulnerable, and deserving of all good things that come your way. Or the feeling that all the art is for you and you alone. But ego? Ego is required for us to find the guts to make an assertion. What right do you have to speak up and offer to make things better? What right to imaging that you have something to contribute? What right to plow through the process, from helpless beginner to floundering mediocrity to working professional? I think you have every right. In fact, I think you have an obligation. That’s why we share our planet with you. Because we’re counting on you to make an assertion and to contribute your work to make things better.”
I am a trained coach, and I have found that when you enter the social circles of those into personal development, you will hear the word ego a lot. Usually in a negative light. Having an ego is bad...really bad. When used, it is definitely used in the “egomaniac” part of the definition.
Which is why I was so grateful to read the above passage. It was a much needed perspective shift for me. Having a belief in yourself that is so grounded that you can say what you need to say is a good thing. I know I have struggled with finding my voice throughout the years, and I have had to force myself to “say the thing” when it feels hard, or I don’t feel like I am enough. The way I have gotten better at it is practicing. Keep putting myself in the position where I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
I don’t think I ever linked that having a healthy ego is a part of that process.
It’s actually a part of this experiment as well. Publishing a blog post a day takes a belief that what you have to say matters. At least to someone. Even if that someone is me.
For those of you struggling with the balance that many want to strike while being professional, remember, being direct is not the same as being rude. You can still be tactful while delivering news that is hard. Just believe that what you have to say matters. And back it up with a healthy dose of believing in yourself.