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Ego is Expensive

March 16, 2021

If you don’t have time to read the rest of this post, don’t miss this: Ego is one of the most expensive things in business.

Have a couple more minutes? Allow me to make the case.

In our businesses, we make decisions based on a variety of factors. How will this product be received? What is the influence on the customer? What is going to create the greatest return on our investment?But there is a factor that is a secret driver of many decisions—but seldom spoken out loud— a person’s ego. 

Take this example. There’s a new chief marketing officer at a highly successful brand. She is taking the place of an individual who decided to retire and left behind a wildly successful marketing campaign. But because this new executive wants to prove her own way (and get credit), she decides to bag the successful campaign in order to create a new marketing strategy that she can spearhead and take credit for pioneering. 

Or how about this example. An individual is assigned to help develop a new HR process for the organization. They have the budget where he could hire a vendor—a professional HR expert—to help him establish a successful process for the organization. But if he brings on someone with the experience, he wouldn’t receive as much individual credit for its success. So instead of hiring an outside expert, he decides to do something in house. Not only is it more time consuming for this individual, but it’s more expensive and less effective for the entire organization in the long run.

Here’s the reality. Few of us would actually admit when we are making a decision based on our ego—but there are times we choose a lesser option because it will make us look better, position us more effectively, or increase our future personal success. 

Ego isn’t just costly to our businesses. It impacts other important aspects of our lives as well.

There are times where we may not parent as well because of our ego. Think about the Little League team that suffers because the dad coaching thinks his kid needs to always pitch or play shortstop even though there are more talented players on the team.

It can even happen in church. Think about a scenario where the pastor wants to prove a personal point, so he centers the Sunday sermon on a specific issue and finds Scripture to support it, rather than teaching what the Bible actually says and what his congregation needs to hear. 

Ego is an individual struggle that is costly to any group we are a part of—businesses, churches, families, and communities.

It sucks time, money, energy, and extra effort out of the people around us. So it’s something we need to identify and fight back against. We also need the courage to call out this behavior in one another.

Here’s my challenge to you this week: Identify one recent decision you made based on your ego (big or small), admit it to yourself, then make a decision to adjust in the future. The best leaders are able to set aside their personal ego for the good of the people around them.


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