Having set up my company, I won a handful of decent clients and achieved an annual turnover of £500,000. Initially this felt good, but 2-3 years later it no longer did.
As many small businesses can find, it seemed like I was up against a glass ceiling and could not break through. I had problems finding quality staff and just like many entrepreneurs oscillated between feast and famine – masses of work for several months and then a gap with very little.
However, my situation changed when I began to understand the workings of the ego and how I was effectively blocking my own progress.
I learned several techniques for dealing with this and managed to implement them to positive effect. As a result high quality staff started to appear and we achieved year on year growth of +40%. The following is my own definition of the ego, and how to stop it from holding you, and your business, back.
We all suffer from negative egos, and we all experience circumstances that subconsciously remind us of memories that have caused us pain. We assume we are under attack and feel compelled to respond. This negative ego holds us captive and frequently results in self-sabotage and misery.
Signs of the ego being active in the work environment are when:
- There is no sense of flow. The business feels stuck, negative things keep recurring and do not get solved satisfactorily.
- We wake up in the morning and resent going to work, or else find ourselves getting excessively angry or upset by what others either say or do.
How to overcome the ego
Here are 4 ways to overcome your ego, and push on with your business;
1. Stop blaming outside forces
Blaming outside circumstances such as a recession, government policy or cancelled orders actually disempowers us. We give away our potential to adapt and close ourselves off from seeing new opportunities. This all happens at a subtle level but the effects are real. Far better in such situations to check our thinking and ask ourselves quietly:
‘With regard to (name the challenge) what do I need to learn from this situation?’
We may have to do this several times over but such self-inquiry helps release us from the prison in which we incarcerate ourselves when we blame outer circumstances.
The answers we receive may not in themselves be the ‘big idea’ we need to break through, but they will nudge us towards the solution we need.
2. Resist judgement and criticism of others
Projection is the involuntary reaction we experience when faced with something within ourselves that we don’t want to recognise. It is a remarkably subtle and involuntary ego defence mechanism. Its purpose is to avoid the fearful thoughts and feelings the conscious mind believes it cannot deal with. Rather than face what we perceive to be our negative traits, we blame them on others.
Projection comes into play when someone either says or does something that stirs up a lot of emotion within us. For example if I get excessively upset by someone I judge to be arrogant, what is actually being brought to my attention is my discomfort around my own arrogance.
Maybe I’m uncomfortable at putting myself forward and always let others take centre stage. If this is the case when I meet someone who demonstrates arrogance I get upset because I’m being reminded of something within me that I have yet to resolve.
We expend lots of energy in suppressing the aspects of ourselves we reject, but what we resist always persists. Far better when we notice ourselves doing it, check our thinking and ask ourselves:
‘What is (name the person) reminding me of that is actually an aspect of my own personality that I do not like?’
Again, we may have to do this several times over, but the advantages are that we release ourselves from the projection and begin to see the other person in a new and positive light.
3. Nurture intuition
The Universe is constantly trying to help free us from our negative ego and it speaks to us through our intuition. Unfortunately however pressures at work, being hunched over a computer all day, not taking proper breaks and stress generally all block our intuition.
When we consciously decide to recognise our intuition, it willingly and increasingly communicates to us; by allowing it space and giving it focus, we strengthen it. We nurture our intuition by regularly absorbing ourselves in activities that take us completely away from our routine thinking, out of our heads, and into our bodies.
For me, this is through meditation and walking in open country. For others, it might be running, horse riding, or dancing to music. The main criterion is that it be pleasurable and regular; it is too easy to get busy and make excuses.
It is when we get back to our true selves and feel relaxed and centred that we allow space for our intuition to come through.
4. Implementing our intuition
Our intuition wants to lead us to places beyond our limited imagination. It seeks win-win solutions and shows up as a step-by-step guide, as to what best to do next.
One problem is that many people do not implement the messages they receive. They doubt what they hear because they cannot tell the difference between the voice of their intuition and the voice of their ego. I see the differences as follows:
- Comes with a sense of urgency – a must do
- Feels restrictive
- Sense of fear – if not done X will happen
- There is a degree of self-interest
- Bit chaotic – one idea then another
- Comes with a deep sense of ‘rightness’
- Feels uplifting and yet relaxed
- May be scary because it takes us out of our comfort zone, but is possible
- Win/Win solution / all encompassing
- Message gets repeated
It is by understanding and following up on our intuitive voice that we are guided to making the decisions that result in quantum leaps forward in our business – the likes of which could never be conceived by our logical mind.
About the author
This article has been written exclusively for ByteStart by John Reynard. John founded a market research company which became one of the fastest growing and most profitable in its sector in Europe, before selling the business via an MBO. He is the author of ‘The Spiritual Route to Entrepreneurial Success’ and is now a Business Counsellor to entrepreneurs. Find out more at SpiritedEntrepreneur.com