Ego is interesting… especially as someone in my position where I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by a lot of really incredible people who are much, much smarter than myself. I’ve been encountering ego in a lot of different ways now that I’m a little bit older and a touch wiser, and it’s still something I spend a lot of time thinking about.
When I’m working on a product, I have no ego. My entire drive is to get it right, and I consider product to be the ultimate pursuit in truth seeking because you have to completely remove yourself from the equation whilst also relying on your instincts, experience and the user’s feedback to find a cohesive middle that solves a problem. I think people can confuse their ego with “empathy” for a user, and I’ve seen people fall in love with their products and how bad it can get.
Ego is primal.
And it’s hard to let go.
Another interesting encounter I have with ego is in the context of advice. When you are trying to start/run a business, you would be surprised at the number of people who have advice for you who have never been in your shoes. Especially when you’re a woman. It’s a daily practice for me to remove my ego and listen, and I mean REALLY listen. Practicing that skill has led to so many incredible insights from other people that I honestly probably would have never had if I was a few years younger.
I think a key skill for a CEO is to learn how to control your own ego. You have to be able to remove your self image to listen in a way that is not only truth-seeking, but in a way that enables you to filter through the “crap.” You need to dial-in on that one unique insight that can have earth-shattering potential, and you can’t have something so stupid as ego in the way.