Is it All About Ego?

A couple of years ago I made an observation which I found startling. I worked for a couple of fellows who were very talented artistically, but where awful businessmen. The constant juggling and borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, drove me, their general manager, nuts.

I couldn’t understand how they could operate that way, much less live that way. Yet, they did and managed to pull off some very impressive things.

I also have friends who have done what I considered to be some very risky stuff and came out the other end on top. One friend in particular has become quite successful and it’s funny to me because I knew them when, so to speak and remember many times in the not too distant past when they would have been happy to be working at McDonald’s.

I became curious about this thing called success and so I started to really watch them, the boys and my friend, looking for some common denominator. One, which, apparently I lacked. I started to really listen to the things they said, how they dealt with others and there general approach to life.

What I found was that my friend and the boys and in fact, as I thought about it, anyone I knew personally who was or had been successful was ego. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. But they all do/did have quite the ego. They all believed that they were somehow superior, better, more capable, smarter, talented (you name it) than most other people.

This really floored me. Just to realize that the difference between constantly trying and getting nowhere and succeeding and ultimately getting what you want, was about having an ego that in some cases, actually lied to you. Sometimes quite often.

I looked around a bit at other people whom I didn’t know, to see if that was the deciding factor. I certainly found many examples. Madonna is a good one. She is marginally talented – accept for her dancing which used to be pretty good, and may still be but I’m not up to date on what she’s doing these days – yet she is one of them most famous and successful women in show business. David Letterman, a very popular talk show host, who clearly has a big ego – and not that talented. On the funny scale he rates about a 3, yet he’s making a bagillion dollars a year while many of my blogging friends who are hilarious are working 9 to 5 jobs. John Grisham is a another example – his writing style actually causes me pain, but everything he writes sure do make good, formulaic movies which of course make millions of dollars.

So far, it seems to be bearing out.

But here’s the rub – what am I/we supposed to do? I even tried to sort of emulate my friend – walk with a struth and swagger, think of myself as hot shit and all I got was my little voice chastising me for being a jerk. I try to cop an attitude and people just look at me and laugh. It’s pathetic really.

Since I’ve been on this quest to get an agent and somehow manage to do the impossible and get published it’s been beating up what little ego I have. In fact, my ego is so sore that it can barely move. Yet, I know that is what I need. I need to act and believe like I’m hot shit. Be confident though nobody in the world wants to represent me or publish me. Know that they are all wrong and I am right. Quite the challenge. Possibly the impossible dream. But what’s a Irish Catholic girl from the Midwest to do?

Nope, I don’t know the answer. But I do think I’m onto something. So starting today, I will practice my affirmations, come up with ego boosting mantras and look down my nose at as many people as possible. I will act like I have a million bucks in the bank and I don’t need a thing. Act as though I am motivated by ambition alone. LOL. Think it will work?

WC

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22 thoughts on “Is it All About Ego?

  1. You are totally hot shit, A. As is your work.
    You are awesome.
    You are an awesome writer.
    You have a talent that should be seen, never put to the side.
    You inspire others. To write, especially.
    Your thoughts take care, your words purposeful.
    Your writing needs to be seen. Because it is good. Really good.
    You are the shit.

    πŸ™‚

    Aw Jess,
    Thank you so much. How sweet of you to say all this. I must print this out and tape it to my bathroom mirror. I will make these my affirmations. πŸ™‚
    WC

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  2. You’re onto something here πŸ™‚ Do tell if it is working.

    I know it seems to come so easy for some and total torchurous (sp) for others….. What gives???

    Hey Lucid,
    I don’t know. I suppose it has to do with many things – the way we are raised, the attitudes and beliefs that your family instill in you, etc. My people are working folk – humble, hard working, smart ass, catholic. Must be the combination, eh?
    WC

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  3. hi WC!

    I have to say, that during times i felt more confident, and showed it outwardly, people seemed to want to come around me more. When you show you have self confidence it shows and it’s a natural attractor. So i say go for it! think your hot shit and hopefully everyone else will too!

    Hi Reggie,
    You know, I think I’ve experienced that too. I dunno about thinking I’m hot shit – sort of like if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit? πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  4. Is confidence the same as ego? I am sure they are connected on some level, but maybe the emphasis on confidence as opposed to ego is where the line gets drawn so that you don’t feel like you’re acting like a jerk, but are still presenting the confidence that can translate into success? I don’t know the answer to this, really, just thinking.

    The people who I know who have gotten things published have confidence, passion for what they do, and that has translated somehow into them knowing people who are interested in publishing their stuff. Small publishers, though, and I’m not sure if you’re interested in anything but the big publishing houses. And they were also sort of specialized publishers (who do maybe 1 or 2 titles a year, and only as one of the many other parts of their business), which can be good or bad, depending on what you want out of it. Certainly getting these books published has not meant they can quit their day jobs.

    One of my favorite success stories is ani difranco. Musician. Couldn’t get a label interested in her, so at 18 she started her OWN label. She’s never on mainstream radio, she doesn’t have those huge advertising budgets, she has grown through word of mouth and through her concerts. And now her label supports several other artists as well. Basically she had confidence, passion, determination, stubbornness, and talent. She made it happen for herself. I don’t know if it is possible in the same way for a writer, but I still like to look at what she has accomplished to remind myself how much can be done outside of the normal channels.

    Hi Deb,
    I never knew that about Ani Difranco – that is actually a rather inspiring story. I’m not sure starting a publishing house is something I’m prepared to do though. I’ve read about the self publishing which I suppose is an option but I’d rather not go that route. Though, you never know – it might be worth a shot.
    WC

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  5. Hi WC,
    I’ve studied confident people from time to time, and a simple truth seems to stare out at me. The more confident a person appears, the more of a wreck they are inside.
    As for success, it’s all down to luck.
    Then again, I remember one person – can’t remember who it was – say of luck:
    ‘Years of dedication meeting a moment of opportunity.’
    Keep the dedication. It’ll come.

    Hi Anthony,
    Well I think I have the dedication – now it’s just the opportunity, eh?
    WC

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  6. Oh my…. another one of those tough questions….

    See, I think society has gotten it a little bit wrong with the whole Ego thing. I was brought up not to be ‘full of myself’. That combined with the amount of self critisim and that from others, just knocked the balance out of whack.

    I know a bunch of what you are considering successful people, and yes, they all have a very healthy serving of confidence, but unlike I used to assume the problem isn’t that they are ‘full of themselves’ (= fullfilled?), the problem is that that many people aren’t full of themselves enough.

    It seems to me we took the ‘humble is a virtue’ too far.

    Now – the one thing I still struggle with around the entire success thing is the battle between “where there is a winner, there are loosers” and “there’s endless room for winners theory”.

    Not to mention the entire definition of the word successful, and maybe therein lies the problem, where there is success, there is comparison and judgement, where there is comparison and judgement, well, some say, that’s the beginning of the end.

    Sorry Annie, you got me off to a philosophical lunch break here.

    As far as you are concerned, I think you could turn up the ‘confidence/ego’ meter a few notches. ( And no worries, we’ll keep you in check should you go overboard πŸ˜‰ ) .

    LOL Spaz,
    I think I went on that lunch too and there were martinis involved.

    But yeah, you nailed it with the ‘don’t be full of yourself’ stuff and the humbleness being a virtue thing.

    So, I should crank her up a few notches? This should be interesting. πŸ™‚
    WC

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  7. Hi WC,

    Most of the “successful” people I’ve known shared two traits. They worked way too much, and they were excellent liars. The two exceptions I can think of at the moment are a writer who found her market and was very good at targeting them with her novels, and a man who inherited a large sum of money from his parents. The latter did very well for a couple of years, investing wisely and not going wild on lavish lifestyle side, then he got sucked into some crazy religious cult that bled him dry and, last I heard, had him working at their lumber camp in the Rockies during the day, and praying for the end of the world late into the night.

    Personally, I’m pretty happy, I don’t work too much, unless you count blogging πŸ™‚ and, while we’re not rich, we have enough to get by on. Of course, I’d rather be happy and rich, hence, my weekly investment in the lottery.

    the Grit

    Hey Grit,
    So if lying on the lotto works, than you should be rich by next week. πŸ˜†
    WC

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  8. Thankfully there was no alcohol during my lunch, you don’t want to get me started on alcohol when I have ‘big’ thoughts like that – or else you’d better prepare for a ride that just might blow your head off πŸ˜‰ .

    Nor any during mine – dang it. πŸ˜‰ But you know, I was ah…er…kidding about how you were driving me to drink. πŸ˜†
    WC

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  9. The ego to me is off putting – the word seem to imply having a facade which covers up reality. People who have genuine self confidence attract more success becouse of the vibes they give off. The source of those ‘vibes’ I think come from a place of self acceptance and positively believing in themselves. Good job with the affirmations. I believe positive thinking is an important aspect to success. Read The Law of Attraction by Michael Losier

    Hey Barbara,
    Thanks for weighing in on this one. You know, I don’t think what I’m talking about really is self confidence. And yes, to some degree is it a bit of a facade – not a lie exactly, but then not truly who the person is either. So, I do think that ego is the right term, at least for what I was talking about.

    And hey, I’ve even done it myself in the past. I had absolutely no idea what I was talking about and literally bullshitted my way through something and into a very lucrative job. Ultimately, I was able to deliver, but it was ego and ego alone that got that job not self confidence. Interesting how there seems to be a fine line there between the two.

    WC

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  10. Even though it appears to be ego which launched these people to success, I would say that for the most part that is untrue. If you dig deeper, you will find that they all have a unwavering belief and vision of where they want to go and who they want to be. You can do this without allowing the ego to take over and without have to step on people or look down on people.
    You can accompish great things through your thoughts!

    Yes, you can – but they didn’t. I don’t know if this was in their heart of hearts, perhaps so – but maybe not. The motivation was about money and material things, not realizing some sort of serious purpose that I know of. I am not saying that there aren’t other elements invovled, there are and each person is different one from the next – but I was speaking to a common denominator, a characteristic, a type of behaviour that seemed to consistently exist in all of them and this is what I came up with. Make sense?

    WC

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  11. C’mon this aint so hard. Its all ego and ignorance. The greatest success’s in life come from not knowing where the boundaries are. Ignorance is truly bliss. That and having a great team around no matter what business you are in. Positivity breeds positivity and success breeds success.

    Try taking the seven day positivity test. Its hard but it works and it goes like this. For seven whole days, you cannot say one thing negative to anyone. Not even remotely negative. If you think something negative, you have to delete it and replace it with something positive. If you break the seven days – then you have to start again.

    But after seven days you will really see a difference, I promise BUT its a really hard test. Take out the negativity / complaining and there’s not much left to talk about. We all do it.

    By the way I motivate people for a living.. That and manage their artistic careers.

    You gotta think from the ground up but it will never be easy.

    Your page has loads of hits, but how do you double that figure? Are you watching your stats and reaching out to new readers? I don’t want to sound arrogant but every artist – writers included need to do their own ground work. We all know that right? But we don’t all practise it.

    Blogs grab attention with publishers when the hits go through the roof. So there it is – it comes down to one small question. How do you raise your number of hits and thus your public profile?

    In your case I would say forget the ego.. either you have it or you don’t.. but let your work sell itself. You just work on rasing your hit count.

    I love your writing or I wouldn’t be here but sometimes you have to convince the world one person at a time.

    Hey Paul,
    First, let me say thanks for such insightful comments. I especially loved the fact that you pointed out what I was trying to say, I think. Ego and ignorance. At least that’s how it’s worked for me in the past.

    LOL – I could try to take the 7 day test – in fact, I tried it some today. Yep, it’s hard alright. And I don’t know what the heck I would blog about if I had to be positive all the time. Would it be 7 days of Pollyannah? Hmmm…

    I’m not surprised that you motivate people for a living – you’re quite the enthusiastic guy. And btw, would you like to manage my career? I’ll keep you in all the fresh tomatoes and mystery melons you can eat. πŸ˜‰

    The stats issue is a conundrum for me. I honestly don’t know how to raise them, unless I go pro as has been suggested. But my consideration about that is, that by doing so, I would lose something that seems integral to this blog. I want it to feel like a place where anyone can come and kick back, have some laughs or a debate and feel comfortable and welcome at all times. Putting up ads and links and selling stuff seems somehow wrong for my vision of the place. Thoughts?

    I’m not clear on your statement about the publisher angle. Are you saying that if my stats went thru the roof that you think publishers would discover me that way? I wasn’t aware that publishers as a matter of course cruised blogs looking for authors. I’d like to know more about that if you have any other nuggets on the subject.

    I’m flattered that you would say you love my writing – you are such an excellent and witty writer yourself that I’m amazed you would find something here that you loved. But I’m not complaining. I’m happily surprised.

    Again, thanks so much for your thoughtful and insightful comments. Much appreciated.

    Annie

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  12. My ticket to the top should come any time now. I have a great deal of confidence. Some might call it conceit. But I would just say that they are jealous.

    You know Evyl, I was thinking that maybe Mikey and I could write a musical about your life. I think we’d all rake in the dough. What do you think? πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  13. Well, get a giant bald spot on your head, put on a cone bra, and write really bad formula. You’ll be sure to get an agent in no time. Another thing Letterman and Madonna have in common…gap in their teeth. Maybe some dental work is in your future.

    Wow Lass, great idea. Sort of like a combo plate of mediocrity. Love it. πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  14. i think you’re pretty awesome, Chica.
    And i think you know it, just that right now, you’ve a lot going on. Your dream is on its way to becoming a reality and there’s been bumps and thuds so far and you’re doubting it will happen. That is understandable but i, along with the many people who have commented before me, believe in you. Be balmed by this.

    i hope that you never swagger. i hope that you never change who you are. Who you are, as you regularly are, is what brought all of us here and Annie, that who you are is talented, smart and on route to bestsellerdom!

    I am balmed my dear, thank you so much for your encouragement. Not sure I have the right shoes for swaggering anyway. πŸ˜‰
    WC

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  15. Ok, I got a question for you then. They have the ego, and this helps them be successful. Now I know your not suggesting their dickheads because of it, but are they happy? Success doesn’t always mean happiness. Especially the success that society defines. And is the ego thing REALLY who they are, or is it a front that they know helps them acheive their success??
    Cheers, Kelly
    p.s I don’t think YOU need ego to be successful darl, it will happen cos your good, and it will happen cos you bloody deserve it.

    Hey Kel,
    I don’t know if they are happy. But yes, the ego thing that I’m referring to is who they really are – maybe ego is the wrong word. But yes, whatever it is, it is who/what they are.

    I like your thoughts about my success. I sure hope you’re right.
    WC

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  16. I agree with some of that. All the positive, get rich books say that you have to visualize yourself successful so maybe instead of walking around arrogantly and looking down your nose at people perhaps you could walk around like you are already a successful author, well published, well known and then scoff in disbelief when people say they’ve never heard of you. πŸ™‚ Kim

    LOL Kim, you had me til the scoffing part – isn’t that being arrogant? Am I still too irish catholic girl to get this?
    WC

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  17. I’m not sure. I was going for more of a shock, disbelief and perhaps a snubbing but I got to be honest, my brain isn’t on its A-game these days.
    More of a you’re missing out on something or out of the loop you know?

    Oh hon,
    I was just funning you. I get what you meant. πŸ™‚
    WC

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  18. As long as you don’t pick some sissy boy as the lead give it hell. Maybe Marilyn Manson could help on the score with you.

    I was thinking maybe casting ‘the Rock’ Too sissy?
    WC

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  19. I think you should take great pride in your work. I love visiting your blog and reading your thought provoking words. Someone commented “you either have it or you don’t” – you definitely have the IT factor. Your questioning of things empowers others. It’s made me more of a thinker, that’s for sure! Keep at your dreams, only you can make it happen πŸ™‚

    Oh, thanks Bella. That’s such a nice thing to say I can’t even think of a self deprecating come back. πŸ˜‰
    WC

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