Take your ego out of the picture

I think too many people fail finding creative solutions to problems because of the personal fear of being wrong. Some equate their ideas with their self-important, always right ego so if their ideas get shot down, they treat it as a personal defeat — and OMG they feel humiliated.

Over-investing your ego is unproductive and unnecessary. If you think the failure of your ideas is a personal failure, you’ll take too few risks, risks that could ultimately pay off. But if you can learn to separate yourself from your ideas and your work and see them as something separate from yourself, you’ll feel you truly have the right to be wrong. If an idea fails, why not let it be the idea’s fault instead of your own? Allow your ideas to fail without turning them into personal defeat.

When I try to solve simple to complex challenges for a client, I do my best to remove my ego from any attachment to the potential results. Ideas are ideas — and should encourage dialog. When I make a formal presentation and get a lousy reaction, the reaction might be due to my lack of preparation or the audience isn’t fully engaged in the discussion. Ideas and skills are merely possessions or creations, but they don’t define the real you. I never feel my ego is in any danger if an initial concept bombs, but opens a bigger more productive dialog and sharing of ideas.

If an idea seems to really hit the mark, I don’t take it as a personal victory either. I just think… Hey, that’s appears to be a good idea. If an idea misses the mark, I see if there’s any helpful feedback and then I may refine or abandon the idea. Or it could be that I felt the idea wasn’t expressed well enough and missed its mark due to being poorly communicated. To me, it’s all just feedback to create better ideas and to improve communication skills.

When discussing a complex subject like personal growth, there are many shades of gray. Despite all the knowledge and experience I may have in this area, there’s no way I could ever hope to perfectly understand every facet of what the client faces every day.

Effective communication requires a combination of logic and emotion, and those are sometimes at odds with each other and will impact different individuals uniquely. I know of no great marketing firms that ever achieve unanimous agreement when they communicate anything of value. By keeping ego out of the picture, you can do as Winston Churchill suggested — move from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm.

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