As a founder, or any other leader, or even just a human your ego * is your “good news, bad news.” The good news is that your ego is your best friend, biggest cheerleader, and president of your fan club. It is the thing in your head that says, “you can do it, you are the best, you’ve got this.” It is the most articulate of positive self-talk.
For founders, specifically, it is the force that encouraged us to go out on a limb and pursue our business brainchild despite high risk and no guarantee of success or reward. Going after big, brave, ambitious things would be impossible without the ego and in this way the ego serves us. Thank you, ego.
The bad news is that your ego (probably with the best of intentions – to protect you and keep you safe) gets you into all sorts of skirmishes – mostly with other egos. It is the ego at the wheel when we say / feel things like “I was disrespected, she offended me, can you believe how this person talked to me” and the like. That storyline is a byproduct of a scared little ego in a huff. And, in this way, the ego opposes us.
For founders, and most everyone else, this ego is a saboteur, a time suck, a resource waster, a talent loser – it is our Achilles’ heel and puts us in impossible situations. In this way, the ego stymies us. Thankfully, when the ego takes this tack, it gives itself away with negative “me, me, me” self-talk, nasty emails, short tempers, drama, and triangulation and thus can easily be avoided. As leaders, when that ego shows up, we should say, “No thanks. Not today.”
*When I talk about ego here, I don’t mean it in the traditional way that ego is used. This is not ego as in “he has a big ego” which translates as he is arrogant type of thing. Here I use ego as a synonym of “me.” Ego is the voice inside your head, it is the thing at play when you say ‘I.” It is self.