Self Confidence & Ego… can it be harnessed for noble purposes? Let’s explore the concept of ego and how it can help your legacy.
Have you ever noticed that people who have reached a high degree of fame have a sense of ego, perhaps even an inflated sense of ego? I’ve observed this dynamic while working with famous speakers over the last decade. Professional speaking is a profession which requires an extra dose of ego. These individuals need to strut onto a stage under the hot lights and command the attention of an entire stadium.
I’ve observed professions which actually require ego. With this idea in mind, let’s think about a surgeon: If someone is performing an operation, it helps if they believe they are the best — and if you’re the one on the operating table, you want them to be the best. Or how about an airline pilot — you want someone who can take control and manage an emergency with authority. In a symphony orchestra, the conductor needs to be able to command the symphony with utmost confidence (including those pesky trombone players… the old joke amongst symphony conductors is to never look at the trombone section, as it simply encourages them).
I took my wife to a Boston concert for an evening concert at the park, and discovered an important lesson in ego. Boston is famous for mega-hits like More Than a Feeling, Foreplay and Peace of Mind. The lead singer of the band, Brad Delp, committed suicide at age 55, so the band found themselves needing to find a replacement lead singer in order to tour… and pronto! The tricky part of their job was that Brad Delp’s vocals were extremely difficult to replace. After a broad search, the band settled on a singer who could mimic Brad Delp’s style almost flawlessly, Tommy DeCarlo. He was discovered after his teenage daughter posted a MySpace page of DeCarlo singing karaoke to Boston songs, and in an instant, he was hired to tour with Boston.
But here is where ego enters the story: Tommy DeCarlo was working at a Home Depot as a credit manager at the time he was discovered. When he was on stage, his vocals were great, but his skills as a rock performer were completely flat. Meaning, the band’s presentation was vanilla as the lead singer was glued to one spot, almost hiding behind the mic. The end effect was a static performance. Why? It is likely that DeCarlo didn’t have the ego, or the drive, to learn how to command a crowd — not only had he not developed stage presence, but visually he didn’t believe that he was a star.
So as you craft your legacy, do you need to develop a greater sense of ego in order to cement your legacy in the minds of others? Let’s look at 3 crucial tips for harnessing ego for success.
As we think about the example of a surgeon or an airline pilot, it is obvious that a high level of confidence in their skill set, decision making, and steady hands is incredibly important. So, what creates confidence in our profession? It boils down to practice. You wouldn’t expect that a surgeon would skate by on their ability alone, would you? The same goes for us as we endeavor to develop a legacy as an author and / or speaker. The more times you perform an action, the easier it becomes. It’s important to not only rehearse speeches, podcasts and videos for the sake of memorization, but also to free you up to practice stage presence. If you are confident in what you are presenting, you can focus on presenting your personality to captivate the audience.
When you listen to someone speak about something they have purposefully studied for hours, you can hear the authority in their voice and feel the passion in their hearts. This authoritative quality is derived from being intentional about learning. We see this clearly in movies and plays: The actors will spend time “getting into character”, putting themselves in the shoes of the role they are playing. Military leaders like General Colin Powell, took voice lessons to learn how to present authoritatively. This paid off for General Powell throughout his career as a military leader and professional speaker.
Similarly, if we don’t believe in ourselves, it is painstakingly apparent to our audiences. It is likely that Tommy DeCarlo didn’t have the confidence in himself it takes to be a rockstar. Some people have an innate high level of confidence, or have developed confidence from massive amounts of repetition. However, a large segment of the population struggles with self-esteem. How can we overcome these issues? Here are two practical tips:
- Declarations: Write out statements of confidence, such as: “My voice is meant to be heard, and I am born to do this.” Or, “My writing is clear and concise, and this message will change the world.”
- Ask People Around You: Sometimes our friends and family can see the valuable things inside us when we can’t see it for ourselves. Ask them what it is that is special about you, and receive it as truth.
It may have been embedded in your mind that ego is a negative thing. However, as we examined the examples above, there are very specific reasons that we actually need to develop a healthy ego in order to succeed. Put these tips into practice, and you are well on your way to harnessing your ego for good — both for yourself, and the world around you as you create a meaningful legacy.
Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing and the host of the Book Publishing Success podcast show. Bryan works with best-selling business authors, including NYT best-selling authors Chris Widener and Tom Hopkins, plus up-and-coming authors including Johnny Covey. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book on converting website visitors into buyers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.