Have you ever screwed up a situation because you were too big for your britches? I know in the instances I’ve let my ego run wild I’ve made mistakes, embarrassed myself, and done things I’m not proud of.
Ego, when not harnessed, can cause a cringe-worthy scene. Believe it.
In my last blog post, I told you all the amazing things my ego’s helped me create – a career serving myself and others, no commutes or bosses, speaking on stage. These are things I love and I could NOT do without my ego.
But you know as well as I do the path to being your best self isn’t all roses. There’s lots of times I screw up, have to learn lessons the hard way, and need to change my behaviors.
Life is school and so even though mistakes are tough, I learn from them and don’t spend too much time feeling guilty or bad. My cheeks might get flushed, I may swallow my pride to make some apologies, but then I move on to the lesson.
USE my mistakes by LEARNING from them. You can learn from your own mistakes and now, you can learn from mine. 😉
Here’s video two in the two-part series about my ego. If you haven’t watched the first video, about 10 Awesome things my ego has done for me, watch it here now. You want to know how high your ego can take you before you see how low you can go ;).
Part two is a little different. I talk about How my ego has gotten me into trouble – click here to watch the video.
You can’t have light without the dark.
You must have a healthy ego but you also need to learn to HARNESS IT so it doesn’t blow up in your face. My wild ego has given me lots of lessons and also lots of laughs. Watch the video and leave me a comment if you get a kick out of it.
How I screwed up because of my ego
Here are the top ways my ego’s gotten me into trouble. I think you’ll get more out of the video since you’ll see how embarrassed I get even TALKING about the mistakes, but hopefully you’ll see that I’m just as fallible as the next person.
1) I bit off more than I can chew.
Because of my ego, I got an expensive apartment with lots of new expenses that stressed me out. Is that my current apartment? Yep, it’s where I live now. While it was the right decision to move in last year – I love it, it’s beautiful, it gave me the exact space and light I needed to feel expansive – I don’t feel that way now. It felt a year premature because of the huge uptick in cost. What’re you gonna do – why not learn from it instead of feeling bad about it.
2) I thought I needed more support than I did.
My ego urged me to increase my team to a couple new people and lots of new vendors when it wasn’t the right time to increase so fast. I need support for my launches and projects, but I don’t have the capacity or wherewithal to manage a massive team. Sometimes when my ego runs amuck I feel like Jed Barltett – i.e. POTUS from West Wing – and I feel like I want his entourage. I even admitted this out loud to my mastermind and got lots of eye rolls. Now I realize I need support, but reliable, stress-free support from an intimate team, not a throng of people where I feel spread thin.
3) I invested in comfort and eye candy.
Once I moved into my new place, I wanted great new furniture and art. But because I also had a huge new team and life expenses, $7K paintings really weren’t kosher; To my surprise, when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see Beyonce. [Although this celebrity look alike App will show you differently. HOW is that accurate!] After a few too many private viewings of art I couldn’t afford, I felt deflated. After looking deeply into the desire, I realized I love art and wanted to surround myself with beauty but it can be long-term instead of all at once. I can learn to amass key pieces over time instead of getting buyer’s remorse now or wanting to impress people (and myself) with my “things.” Part of me FEELS like Beyonce (in terms of the impact I want to have) so I want my insides to reflect that, but I’m learning: all in due time.
4) I felt uncomfortable in rooms with big characters.
I’ve spent lots of time in rooms with people smarter than me. But I realized that some of those times it didn’t FEEL RIGHT to be there. Not because “I’m not smart enough” because you ALWAYS have something to offer, but because it genuinely didn’t feel like the right time. I didn’t have enough capacity (in my heart or mind) to know what to do with the experience. And the times where I’ve gone to events just because I wanted to run faster or because certain people were there, I usually left feeling like nothing we said or did together was very impactful, or very connected. And it’s because I WASN’T connected within MYSELF. The timing wasn’t right; I needed to learn more, create more, be myself more for the event to make sense for ME.
Running head first into experiences shows you your ego WILL get you there, but perhaps at the wrong time.
5) I came across the wrong way.
Thanks to my ego, I’ve talked myself out of situations, talked to people and talked about myself in arrogant ways. Sometimes I was aware of it, other times I wasn’t. But I saw people’s reactions and it was clear: WE DO NOT LIKE YOU. It wasn’t fun to be on the receiving end of that – but I’m also sure it wasn’t fun for them to be on the receiving end of my comments either! When you have an ego, you mess up sometimes. I’ve replayed what I’ve said at dinner parties and wanted to bite my own wrist – How could I think what I said was appropriate? But you can’t beat yourself up. This is EXACTLY how you learn. I’m usually the encourager – I like to make people feel comfortable and safe. BUT I’m also honest and blunt, sometimes awkward – which isn’t always a winning combination. I’ve learned to season my speech with sweetness, and have realized it’s MUCH more fun to listen sometimes and also see someone else shine.
6) Told lies upon lies by saying “Yes…I mean no…I mean yes…” when I meant HELL NO.
My ego’s led me to say “yes” when I meant “NO,” because I thought I could handle the workload or the client or another project. When really I just wanted to look cool or smart. I’ve had to learn that lesson quite a few times, to not overextend myself because I wanted to look like I could handle it, or look like I was Superwoman. With family, friends, clients, I am still learning this one.
7) Went from zero to sixty fast.
This is a hard one to admit, but maybe more common than I think. I wanted it faster, sooner, better. I felt like I could skip steps because of what I’d done, and if I’m honest – who I am. “I worked with Seth Godin” or “I learned this already” or “I built a big email list.” So why do I need to learn this stuff now? Well you need to learn it Ishita because you don’t rest on your laurels girlchild! We always have to learn. When I forget that I have to learn I run smack dab into trouble because my ego makes me feel like I don’t have to pay my dues. Like when I had to go to ground zero to build my business or had to redefine love after my relationship ended. I’ve had to learn new things, annihilate certain old stories and behaviors, and it’s been HARD. So instead of just going with it, I questioned why I had to learn it and re-learn it.
We can’t skip steps. It just leads to frustration and needing to learn the lesson AGAIN later.
8) I felt disconnected.
My ego didn’t let me feel connected to the Universe or God because I just kept do, do, doing. Instead of stopping and getting guidance, I went full force because I thought I knew it all, which was a recipe for disaster. We just CAN’T know more than the universe but we feel we do on a Monday morning ready to go with our to-do list and a fresh pencil to check stuff off.
9) Fishing for compliments!
Embarrassing! In the past I’ve written Facebook or Instagram posts to gauge a reaction and get a laugh or a like, wanting the recognition. It’s lame, but I’ve definitely succumbed to the madness of hitting refresh every five seconds. I learned a great lesson though: all the checking and monitoring for validation made me feel SO suffocated, phony, and beholden, that all the validation in the world wasn’t worth it. I realized I prioritized FREEDOM over the insatiable need for recognition. Now I only post things that FEEL good on a deep level and realize the EWW I felt when I posted without a clear intention.
10) I FELT TERRIBLE.
When you act from your ego without knowing why, it generally feels shitty. Sometimes subtle shitty, sometimes heavy shitstorm. Especially when someone else is on the receiving end of my ego, it feels terrible. Often I realized the places I need to heal within myself when my ego acts out (like my need to control things) and I feel strongly now about being aware of it.
11) I’ve gotten a tsk tsk from others.
I’ve gotten myself into embarrassing situations where I’ve been chastised in public. This usually happens when I’m with my family and I embarrass them (not intentionally.) Once we were at a bowling alley and a little boy had a birthday. His family had left but there was a bunch of food left over, which I thought they’d throw away. I grabbed some cupcakes and gave it to my family, but not before the mom came back and said, “That girl took our cupcakes. I was going to take these home to give out later.” As soon as I heard it I returned her cakes but I was embarrassed as hell and asked WHY ISHITA WHY? I love cupcakes but my family was like, “Ishita. We told you not to.”
Another story: Once I used business logos for companies I thought were going to partner with me for an event, but a firm “yes” hadn’t been given. I used their logos anyway on the flier to add some credibility to it because – Why wouldn’t they want to partner with me? I’m so cool. Riiight. Every business pulled out after that super pissed off and said, “You’re crazy. You did this without asking.” This was very embarrassing and a HUGE lesson in business: Ego gets you so far, but it will NOT take you all the way. I haven’t spoken to these companies since because I’m THAT embarrassed.
Okay, so I’ve bared it all to you so you can see: HARNESS your ego and don’t let it go willy nilly. It is a powerful tool but you must USE it and CONTROL it.
And if you HAVE run wild with your ego, don’t be ashamed of it. Talk about it. Learn your lessons. Teach someone else. If all you do is get embarrassed and afraid, you better believe it will happen to you again.
This video and the earlier video, show you that you need BOTH sides of your ego to get where you want to go. You need confidence and self-belief and also to know how to harness it so you don’t get knocked down. And if you do get knocked, LEARN and be humble about the lesson.
If you’re dealing with balancing your ego, watch the video now and tell me what you think. Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you. Tell me what antidote you found relatable and helpful.
If you liked this post and know someone who’s struggling and needs to hear it, please pass this along to them. Family, friends, colleagues, we all need help sometimes. Be the person who helps yourself and then helps others find it :).
Ishita Gupta is the publisher of fear.less magazine. She worked at The Domino Project, runs the Potential Project, and helps people overcome fear and design their best lives. She also consults for authors and businesses on marketing and publishing. You can also follow Ishita on Facebook or Twitter.