“To be somebody or to do something. In life, there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision.”
We’ll be discussing today the alternative sources of the motivation behind your goals. We will show how an oversized self-esteem can be standing in your way. But we’ll also describe a mechanism to overcome this and actually get it to work for you and improve your attitude towards success.
“To be somebody or to do something”
In his book “Ego is the enemy”, Ryan Holiday explores the dynamics between these two opposing mindsets.
Being “someone” is an unhealthy obsession with your own significance. The sense of self-importance is dominating all other qualities of yours and can adversely affect their manifestation.
And to do “something” means to be focused on how you can make a difference for those around you.
The choice between these two has a fundamental impact on your goals and how you realize them.
Ego and goals
Do you want to be someone?
Probably it is, just like it is with most of us. It’s something that feeds off your ego and is entirely oriented on your image – to be recognized as someone who is with a position and has a role, social or any other.
And how about when you aren’t just going to but striving to do something?
Most certainly there are times when you do that too. You are forgetting everything else, including yourself, and you are working only on getting done something oriented on the wellbeing of others and not just you.
Actions motivated by the things immaterial and spiritual are making it easier to achieve what you want.
Still, almost everything is…
… a matter of balance
Going to the extreme is rarely the best idea.
If you have any goals already laid out then ask yourself the following:
How much of what you want to do is due to the need to prove something to someone, or to yourself, for that matter? And how much is creating something of worth to yourself but to other too? You can rate these two on a scale of 1 to 10.
By doing this you can reveal a lot what’s your true driving force.
The ego can actually help to get you across to your goals
It is easy to blame it a lot for many of the missteps of human beings.
However, we believe that completely denying your ego isn’t smart either. This can result in less confidence, self-doubt, and even the misguided feeling that you don’t deserve anything that’s good for you, including professional and personal growth.
The ego is just like the medal which always has two sides. On the upside, it could be an advantage. As for the downside, it’s entirely in your hands to stay clear of it.
“A Necessary Evil”
In our opinion, you shouldn’t give the ego a free rein but instead, nurture it within well-defined boundaries.
This may require that you get outside your comfort zone when it comes to your plans and aspirations. For example, your self-respect can challenge you to come up with an unorthodox idea which might otherwise be just crazy in your own eyes. Some extra dose of confidence is always welcomed when the stakes are high.
Use the ego wisely but sparingly just like in the old saying “everything in good measure”.
When it becomes a problem
You don’t do yourself any favor if you aren’t aware of how much control the ego can exert over your character. Here is how it can negatively affect your goal setting.
# 1 It cuts off the feedback
Everybody knows at least one person who is this type – those opinionated people who think they know it all, they are never wrong; they do things their way regardless of anyone or anything.
Of course, it’s tempting to feel a little bit of envy but keep in mind that the price is high.
For once, you may fail to heed a different point of view and this hardly helps at all if you want to stay in touch with your social environment.
And then you may miss on many new opportunities. Turning your back on a proposal, a contact, or any other chance is likely to limit your future options.
Instead, you must…
… be all ears
In our system, the social element is a cornerstone for bringing success through friendship and mutual support.
In the years since the beginning of “GoalBuddy”, we’ve witnessed firsthand the positives of sharing with others. If you can’t make yourself comfortable doing it in front of many, then your friend for goals must be all the audience you need. Their questions might be challenging but will serve you well in the end.
# 2 When you are obsessed with yourself only, you can’t care for anyone else
Jean-Paul Sartre famously proclaimed, “Hell is other people”.
Let’s imagine that you work with someone who proposes a better solution to a problem. The idea is great and will turn the project’s success into a sure thing.
More often than not, it’s impractical and even counterproductive to let your ego stop you from seeing the one in front of you as a partner, co-worker and a teammate. If you fight the idea instead of your own wounded self-esteem it will be a loss for you, for the work, for everyone.
Or you can address the situation in the following manner.
Symbiosis is the way
When you are in the pursuit of an objective, you have to forget yourself and suppress any urges for self-aggrandizing. That will open you for appreciating those who are working towards the same ends.
It is well documented that any team effort multiplies the effect of each member’s input.
And there is another plus here:
“GoalBuddy” is designed to seek out situations which are not a zero-sum but a win-win. We strongly advise against setting up objectives that could be potentially harmful and disrupting in their nature. On the contrary, look for what’s constructive and of value to your individual growth in every respect.
# 3 Submitting to your own self-importance can blind you
Perhaps deep inside you don’t really want what the social norm seems to be imposing on you. The big house, a luxury car, prestige… all these might make you feel good about yourself but is that all of you? Or it’s only a role to be played for the eyes of your neighbor!
Most people are setting goals because of some predominant social norm and its pressure instead of being driven by their true inner self.
The “exit strategy” is quite simple, in fact.
Make sure that your everyday life is reflected in your goals in a timely manner
One of the golden rules in our system is to review your objectives on a regular basis.
So, if it happens that you find yourself led astray from your chosen path then you have the opening to quickly see the mistake and correct it in time. This is done at the end of each quarter when you are reviewing and measuring the progress in the past three months.
Of course, it’s not easy to admit to a mistake. But it’s never too late to turn things around and go on with a new target that better reflects your vision.
# 4 The ego doesn’t allow you to think that there is always room for improvement.
According to some psychologists, there are two basic instincts in human nature: to grow and to contribute.
Have you ever considered this question! “Is setting up a goal an admission to the fact that you are far from perfect?” The logic here is straightforward – if someone is ahead of you then they must be better than you.
Of course, this hurts your self-worth which can’t tolerate any form of inferiority. It reacts by choking off your desire to grow by fooling you that you are already on the top of the world.
If you are so misguided to believe it then you should face up to some hard questions.
Like “What is it that you want from life?” and even the harder one – “Do you know why?”
“You live, you learn”
The reason to continuously learn is that you can achieve more and be able to aim higher and further.
There is this concept we like to use in our system, the horizon as a finish line. This is the best version of yourself which you try to reach in every aspect of your life. And that’s exactly what we do.
We not only do it but we also try to do it better than the day before. Including “GoalBuddy” which we perfect constantly thanks to anything new and useful we learn. And last but not least of the factors – we are able to perform thanks to the support of people like you.
There is yet another potential pitfall in that.
# 5 Your Ego stops you from asking for help
Your sense of superiority can put you in a serious disadvantage by impeding your interaction skills. Or worse, it can even stop you from asking for help when you need one.
This can be detrimental in two ways.
On one hand, you may think that you have no use for a Buddy because you are well prepared and capable of doing anything on your own. After all, “there is no one who could even match you in any of your qualities and thus be adequately helpful to you”.
Another drawback is, especially at work, when you are reluctant to delegate tasks. It can also cost you resources like time and effort. Misjudging or underestimating people may force you to undertake the “hands on” approach. This will eat away a lot of your time which otherwise could have been spent on more valuable things.
Don’t become a “control freak”
Try to teach but then guide as well the person next to you, be that a partner or a coworker. That will allow them to take more responsibility and fully unfold their potential. They may be able to accomplish the same result but in a different and maybe more efficient way. Meanwhile, you’ll have the time to do what you are best at.
# 7 Know your limits
You must have heard the saying “The higher you go, the harder you fall.”
When you aim too high with an overly ambitious deadline you set yourself up for disaster with all the consequences – disappointment, lower self-respect, etc. We suspect that perhaps timing plays a much bigger role.
There is no such thing as unrealistic goals, only unrealistic deadlines.
A well-defined objective saves the day
Trust us and try to give yourself a reasonable period of time for completion. Don’t go overboard. First, have a 90-day goal defined, then start making the small weekly steps advancing gradually towards it. It shouldn’t be a sprint, but a marathon. The accumulative effect of small input over time will produce remarkable results.
Your misguided ambition is tricking you into biting off more than you can chew which is definitely a “risk behavior”.
Such are the cases when you want to be “someone”, a celebrity of sorts, i.e. someone covered with glory and social recognition and status.
Even the tiniest bit of narcissism can make you lose the sense of reality and create in you some fanciful expectations. The alternative which Ryan Holiday advocates is to try to do something. The focus is on the effort in your own actions which enriches you with experience. And thus the final result doesn’t measure only with its material parameters, but with the value, you create for others.
And most importantly – be a positive influence on those around you. Help them be successful. Maybe one thing you can do right now is to start looking for your Buddy.