Nearly every entrepreneur in my circles, and probably every successful person that you know, has a story about their personal battle with ego and pride. That’s why my mastermind groups are reading the book Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday.
Ego is the Enemy gives some great examples of men who had well-documented battles with pride. While some of these men unfortunately succumbed to their prideful instincts, others were able to rise above their ego and go on to impact countless leaders for generations to come. These great men were able to control their self-serving thoughts and emotions by exercising humility.
Abraham Lincoln was a master of keeping his emotions in check and remaining humble in his thoughts, speech, and actions. In fact, he built his presidential cabinet with a core consisting of the fiercest opponents he defeated politically on his way to the White House. He could have easily allowed himself to feel threatened by them, or he could have cast them aside after conquering them, but he didn’t. He chose his former adversaries for his inner circle because he genuinely felt like they were the best men for those jobs. President Lincoln acted with humility in making those appointments, and when asked why he would allow his defeated opponents such high positions within his administration, he replied “I had looked the party over and concluded that these were the very strongest men. Then I had no right to deprive the country of their service.”
As a man of God, there’s no doubt that Abraham Lincoln looked to the scriptures in his journey to defeating pride and living with humility. Proverbs 11:2 tell us that “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” An excellent Biblical example of conquering pride and wearing a medal of humility is that of Moses, a man who had a world-class education, spoke directly with God on several occasions, and lead thousands of God’s chosen people out of captivity. Yet he was considered to be the most humble man on earth.
When you continually experience success at a high level, pride targets you heavily. Pride wants you to take center stage at every opportunity. Your ego wants you to take sole credit for every achievement. My personal coach and counselor Floyd Dawson told me something recently about myself that I had never thought about. He said “the good news is you have been successful, the bad news is you have been successful.” I was puzzled by his comment, he explained. “You will work twice as hard to maintain a successful reputation so your peers will think well of you, be careful.” Wow, is that no true? I catch myself doing this and I know pride and ego is the motivator. This is incredibly dangerous to your significance as a human being. As my friend Bob Burg says, “Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.” What that means at its core is that if you want to be truly influential, you must conduct yourself with humility.
One of my favorite sayings is “The only thing a person will ever remember about you is the way you made them feel.” If you carry yourself with arrogance, being prideful and boastful, and you let your ego do the talking, people aren’t going to want to be around you. Even if you have tremendous value to offer them, they won’t be able to see it because your ego is in the way. If you act humbly and carry yourself with humility, people are going to gravitate toward you. When you show them that you don’t want things to be all about you, they will feel honored to be around you and share their lives with you.
So, what’s it going to be? How are you going to make people feel through your interactions with them? I encourage you to choose humility and live a life full of meaning and significance.