The reason so many small businesses fail is usually because of someone's ego. Ego's started wars, crushed economies and caused more problems than any other underlying factor. That's where the saying “pride goeth before a fall” came from. But what does that really mean anyway?
If you're a small business owner and you believe you are always right, whether it's true or not, and you refuse to listen to anyone else's views but your own, you might want to pay attention, because if you do not, the next fall might be your own. The reality is, no one is always right and there are always other ways, sometimes better ways, to get things done.
Do you recognize a bit of yourself in the above statement? If so, that's OK. The first step in change is recognizing that it's possible you might have a bit of an ego problem.
Here are four ways to work with your ego instead of against it.
1. Identify What You're Good At
No one is an expert at everything. Stop right there, if you think you are. That's your ego talking so just ignore it. OK, now that you've cleared your mind, think of the things you know you are really good at. Those are yours and those are the areas where you are likely right, but that does not mean everyone else is wrong. You should always listen to the views and ideas of others. It's very likely they might have thought of something you did not, maybe even something better.
2. Count to Ten
Remember when your parents told you to count to ten when you were mad so that you had time to think about what you were going to say before you said it. The count to ten exercise was designed to keep people from saying or doing something they would later regret. Well, the same goes for your ego. Get into the habit of stopping and thinking about what you are going to say before you say it. Better yet, sleep on it. Then address the subject again the next day with a clear mind and a better attitude (hopefully). This will almost always keep you from saying or doing something you will later regret, which is important in business because once something is said, it can never be taken back. You may absolutely be forgiven, but it's highly likely that the issue will never be forgotten. And that's not a good thing.
3. Always Think About the Big Picture
As a small business owner, you will always want what's in the best interest of your company. However, if you are constantly underlining your partners, employees, and others, you will have created a toxic environment in which they (and you) have to work. Statistics show that people perform better when they work in a pleasant atmosphere where people are happy and teamwork is practiced versus an atmosphere of stress and fear of saying or doing something that would congratulate someone's ego and get them all disjointed. No one wants to walk around on eggshells every day. Nor do they want to always have their ideas and opinions smacked down on a daily basis. This is not good for you, your employees or your business.
4. Exercises for Checking Your Ego at the Door
Here are several great ways to check your ego at the door.
- Focus on your goals as a team, not as an individual.
- Learn to listen and engage with people who are more talented in certain areas than you are. Always be honest with yourself about your true strengths and weaknesses.
- Learn how to understand and appreciate those who are less astute than you.
- Never be afraid to ask for help. Always solicit and apply helpful feedback.
- Do not be afraid to try new things.
- Spend more time listening than you do talking.
The Bottom Line
You have to remember you're not always right and things should not always have to be your way or the highway. Learn to recognize when your ego is about to flare up and practice the different ways to keep it in check. If you do not, there's a greater chance your business will fail and no one wants that!