In the Famous Disney Animation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
We see the famous line that was used by the Queen to feed her Ego.
“Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all ?”
“Thou, O Queen, art the fairest in the land,” the Mirror will always reply
Until one day she wasn’t.
The question brought a different response
“Snow White, O Queen, is the fairest of them all.”
This response angered the queen greatly and she sought to put an end to Snow White.
She utterly hated the idea of someone alive being fairer than she was.
I find it strange that she didn’t channel her energy into looking more fairer if that is what she wanted.
Now that we are on this subject of Mirrors
There is a saying that I love about them.
“Look into the Mirror, that’s your Competition”
It reminds you that the greatest thing holding you back is yourself.
You have your own race to run and comparing yourself with others is dangerous.
You have probably jumped into something in the past because others were doing it.
You won’t go far doing this.
You are not in a race with anyone, your goal should be to become smarter and stronger today than you were yesterday.
And make sure that you are backing that with action.
Now to the topic of Ego.
In my last article about Fear, I stated that Fear and Ego was the foundational things holding you back.
To the best of my ability, I gave a deep dive into fear last time and I have come back to do the same for Ego.
Before I get to it, let me first crush any Ego I might have about writing this by leading you to the best source on this topic.
And that’s Ryan Holiday, his book Ego is the Enemy gives an amazing dive into the dangers of Ego.
You can watch a 5 Minutes Summary of the Book here.
The purpose of this article is to make the dangers of Ego more vivid using examples.
And by the end of this article, I would give you a chance to instantly crush Ego too.
First of all, What is Ego ? (my igbo brothers are mostly likely thinking of money now)
There are various definition of Ego, but they all boil down to one thing.
How you see yourself.
That can be a good thing but also a bad thing depending on how your thought process is, I will do my best to highlight the negative parts (with help from Ryan) so that you can avoid them.
The first stage that Ego hooks people is at their aspiration stage.
At this stage you have identified the thing that you want to build or offer the world.
And like Ryan said, your biggest enemy at this point is not even doubt, it is Ego.
Here, Ego manifests as an unwillingness to research and learn what it takes to build.
There are people that would never get to read this article just because of this.
No matter how I shout about the Importance of this article they will never click on the link.
And like I said earlier, this can spill into your building process and I would give examples.
I have people that come to me with ideas of what they want to build.
I proceed to give them a class on Market Validation, telling them all the things that they need to do before building.
A huge majority ignore it and jump right into the building process.
So let’s say you want to write a book, it is important to do surveys and even webinars around that topic as it helps you to do two major things:
a) Confirm that it is a major problem for people.
b) Confirm that people will be willing to pay for that information.
Doing this work before writing the book even helps you understand the best way to market it to people.
But after spelling out the different frameworks that they can use to do this, I still see many people jump into the Book Writing stage first.
And at the end of the day, they find it hard to sell what they have created.
If you are someone who skips the foundational part of what you want to build and skip to the next stage then you are already being crippled by Ego.
Tomorrow, you would look back and probably give excuses to why thing didn’t work.
But if you don’t humble yourself, it will be very hard for you to point out to where your problems lie and you will will most likely repeat them.
“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” -Epictetus
So now, let us assume that your book launch went well.
You managed to get an Influencer to promote it and sales went off the roof.
This has put you at a greater disadvantage.
People are buying those books because the Influencers said so and not because of what you wrote.
They will end up reading that book and not get the desired results.
And they would come to see you as a fraud.
And you might not be even aware of this if you are not told.
This success that you have engineered would now make you hype yourself up to high heavens.
You become more entitled and ignore learning more foundational things that you need to grow.
I always tell my students that the best person that can market your product is a satisfied customer.
Customers are better at marketing your product than you would ever will.
I was doing a study on product design/development some weeks back and I came across a quote that stuck to my head.
Advertising is a taxation you pay for building an unremarkable product.
The less remarkable your product is, the more you would need to spend on advertising.
Whenever you are making plans for what you want to build.
It is easy to pretend as if you won’t encounter failure, but the truth is that failure is a part of building.
Setbacks will always come.
What determines how it would be handled is your level of resistance over Ego.
It is at this point that the difference between Ego and Self Confidence becomes clear.
You see, Self Confidence is not about feeling that you won’t experience setbacks.
It is understanding that you would be able to trace the source of your setbacks and correct them.
You are meant to draw confidence from the foundational work that you do while preparing to build.
When your belief in what you are building is backed by data, you will always forge ahead when you face setbacks.
The results of your research help you know that you are on the right track no matter what you might be seeing temporarily.
Jeff Bezos is my number one business mentor and there is something that he said after Amazon stock when crashed in the late 90s.
In the short term, a stock market is a voting machine, in the long term, it is a weighing machine.
In the beginning, a lot of people would not even understand the value of what you are building, but you need to.
The man driven by ego would always seek the approval and applause of others.
But there is one thing that you need to understand.
If you live by the applause of others, you will die from their rejection.
Despite the value of Amazon stock crashing by over 85% and different people pronouncing the death of Amazon.
Jeff and his team kept building because they had enough data to back the value of what they were building.
They didn’t need any external validation to build.
It is important you build that level of confidence for yourself too.
So that’s all for today.
What was your major takeaway from this article?
I would love to hear from you in the comment section below.
Also, I am running a program called Chasing Jeff Bezos where I give members much closer Mentorship on what it takes to build a successful brand.
If you would love to join my Chasing Jeff Bezos Inner Circle, read about it with the link below.
Image Source: Visualize Value