Our ego can get in the way of marketing our business. From our need to be right, to talking about ourselves incessantly; coming from an attitude of arrogance to getting attached to the outcomes of what we do, these are just some of the ways our ego can get in our way.
If it’s all about us, then it isn’t about our customers. It’s imperative that we are aware of how we conduct our selves and the impact it may be having on our success.
Our ego, however, can serve us as well. Our ego can help us in setting boundaries and standards of performance. It can give us the confidence to know we can make a positive difference for our clients. If we can’t believe in what we do, no one else will.
Ego, in a healthy way, is about playing to our strengths and not to our weaknesses. How can we step away from our ego and market our business more effectively?
1. Maintain an open mind. When we come from a place of ego, we tend to be narrowly scoped. Usually we have difficulty seeing beyond what we can understand. We think we know the only way, that we have all of the answers. Business success, however, demands that we see the bigger picture. We must be open to new ideas, trends, opinions, and most importantly, to the variety of potential customers or clients with whom we’ll undoubtedly interface. An open perspective may lead us to developing new and innovative products or programs. It may allow us to seek out others who we might otherwise dismiss, possibly creating the opportunity for strategic business alliances or partnerships. An open mind opens us up to opportunities.
2. Listen more than you speak. It’s been said that we were given two ears and one mouth so that we could listen twice as much as we speak. While there is definitely merit to this statement, it really goes one step deeper. Almost every single time we speak, we are speaking from a place of ego. We are talking about ourselves, something we saw, something we did, something we have an opinion about. While that is all good and fine, when it comes to business we need to make some adjustments. Business is about serving the needs of others, specifically your target market. It’s all about them. To be successful, you need to listen to what they say. What are their biggest problems, needs, and desires? What are they looking for you to do for them? How can your products or services solve their problems? The only way to determine that is by listening closely and carefully. When you speak, come from a place of inquiry and curiosity. And, make sure that everything you speak about relates back to the client in some way.
3. Serve others instead of ourselves. Most of us are in business to make money. That end is worthy and necessary to meet our goal of making a living. But, in order to create a successful business our orientation must be from the standpoint of serving others. It is by serving others that we serve ourselves. Of all of the business blunders, this is probably the one that leads the way to slow growth or to eventual business failure. Each day, we need to evaluate our activities. Certainly we must handle various administrative and operational tasks for our business. But, aside from these, all other activities need to be focused around serving our clients. Ask yourself the question: Is what I’m doing serving or going to serve the needs and requirements of my clientele? If the answer is “no”, re-evaluate why you are doing it. You may be wasting time, money, and energy pursuing activities that will have no value. Orient everything you do around serving others and you’ll naturally end up serving yourself as well.
4. Practice humility. Humility or the state of being humble is an absolute must in business. For no matter what we do in life, there will always be times when we cannot control what is happening around us or to us. By developing an attitude of gratitude and being thankful in the moment for things going well, we’ll be able to weather the storm much better when things go awry. Practicing humility means that we must face our own failures and imperfections. It also means that we must know our place when it comes to dealing with others – that we must treat others as we would like to be treated. It demands that we set aside our ego and realize that we are no better and no worse than anyone else; that we are on our own path that is unique to us and for us. There is no place for ego in a humble heart.
5. Don’t get attached to outcomes. Being attached to outcomes is a surefire path to disappointment and a waste of our mental energies. It is our ego that fuels our intense desire to create specific outcomes. And, just like clockwork, this type of attitude leads to disappointment when the desired outcome fails to manifest. No one can control the outcome of a situation. All we can do is make decisions, based on the best data possible. There are a myriad of intervening circumstances that can derail even the best of plans. For this reason, it’s important to set aside our egos and understand we only have so much power to steer our course. We need to develop a sense of peace that we have made the best decisions based upon what we know and leave it at that.
6. Avoid perfection. A big ego usually accompanies an attitude that everything has to be perfect. Perfect is an impossible idealism that keeps people from moving forward and accomplishing all that they can. Perfection will prevent you from giving a speech because you don’t think its good enough. Perfection will stop you from writing a book, making a phone call to a prospect, or presenting a teleclass on a topic you love. Don’t let this unproductive attitude invade your life. It’s rooted in ego – a need to be right, a need to be better than others and beyond reproach. Ironically, most people are not drawn to perfectionists, as they are often perceived as uptight, unrealistic, and better than everyone else. Your clients will be drawn to you because of who you are — failures, mistakes, and imperfections – the whole nine yards. People will seek you out because you are a real person – someone they can identify with. Don’t let perfection stand in the way of being who you are.
7. Make mistakes. Mistakes are a part of life. And really, there are no mistakes; there are only experiences. Experiences provide us with feedback that allows us to make other decisions that lead us towards what we want to accomplish. If we aren’t willing to have experiences, we aren’t going to have a life or a business for that matter. A big ego will often prevent us from having experiences because it perceives that a “mistake” is a bad thing and a sign of failure. The funny thing about this is that you’re probably the only one who notices the mistake, as other folks are much too busy being concerned with their own lives. Get out of yourself, shed your ego and start living. The most successful business owners are the ones who step out, have experiences and fail their way to success.
8. Be right, not righteous. There’s a big difference between being right and being righteous. Being righteous is all about your ego. You think that you have a monopoly on “right”; that you know and have all the answers, and that everyone who does not believe as you do is wrong. Righteous folks are frightened folks. Often they are raised on fear-based ideas put forth by otherwise well-meaning parents or institutions. They are wrapped up in their own world, unaware of other people. They don’t know how to respect others because they themselves harbor nothing worthy of respect. After all it’s ludicrous to believe anyone has a monopoly on truth or what is right. Still, however, you may see this creeping into your own approach to business. Whenever you feel the need to express righteousness, know that it’s your ego rearing its ugly head.
9. Consult others. Seeking out counsel, information, wisdom, or feedback from others is a wonderful way to bring creativity, inspiration, and motivation to all that you do. If your ego were in play, you wouldn’t even consider such a thing. Ego is all about you. You don’t have a place for others, their ideas, or their feedback. Business is all about interfacing with others, from your colleagues, to your vendors and supplies, to your all important customers or clients. Just like with the idea of “having an open mind”, tremendous opportunity can come your way by consulting with others. Don’t close down the doors to success. Instead, open them wide by setting aside your ego and connecting with others.
10. Let others tell your story. Why not completely take you and your ego out of the picture and let others speak for you. Testimonials and referrals are, by the far, the most powerful tools you can use to build your business. People relate to the stories that others tell them. They hold much more credibility than if you were to talk about yourself and your client successes. Actively gather testimonials from the folks you do business with. Make sure to include a few of them in your various marketing materials. Post them to your website for everyone to view and read. If someone says wonderful things about you but is uncomfortable writing a testimonial, offer to transcribe what they tell you and then send it to them for final approval.