I just got back from my Saturday morning yoga class. I look forward to this class all week to help me deal with the stress my body seems to store up all week long. I dont profess to be a yogi. In fact, my body tends to be tight from years of running and traveling for work. (Thats why I really need this class.) But most of all, I need the lessons from the yoga instructor who tells us every week to leave our egos at the door and go with the flow.
As I was driving home from the class today, I began to think more about how difficult it is to leave our egos out of our daily activities. I was thinking specifically about self-promotion. Is it all ego driven?
My intent is not to get into a heavy philosophical discussion here, but this is intriguing to me. Yes, our ego will push us to be the best we can be; to advance our careers and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves. Thinking strategically about our career can in itself be ego-driven I suppose. What I have discovered in my work with female professionals is that when they lack a strong sense of self-esteem, self- promotion is much more challenging.
I decided to find out exactly what the difference is between self-esteem and ego and found some clarity.
According to this online dictionary, self esteem is ” a balanced and unexaggerated self respect and self love. It combines a healthy regard for the self with a healthy regard for others. Healthy self esteem esteems others as equally as the self. Others are treated and regarded as respectfully as the self.
Ego, on the other hand, always believes in its own self importance above the importance of others. Ego always requires outside approval, validation, and constant attention and gratification. Ego believes in its own superiority above all others. Some versions of ego insist on inferiority as a role. Both inferiority and superiority are lies though, and variations of the same theme — of feeling “less than” others.
If you agree with these definitions, than self-promotion is not necessarily an ego-driven activity. It truly depends on what motivates your actions. It is possible that the act of promoting yourself can come from a place of healthy self-esteem. In fact, thats the more desirable approach because when you believe in yourself, you promote yourself with authenticity. Its this authenticity that will improve your self-promotion efforts. You are more credible when you believe in yourself. Self-confidence comes across to others as competence.
Its when you are motivated solely through your ego, that self-promotion takes on the qualities that most of us detest. This type of self-promotion comes across as bragging and pushiness.
Lesson: Leave your ego at the door.
Stay connected with your unique qualities and strengths and promote yourself authentically. Dont try to prove your superiority over others. Staying true to yourself and your talent will get you much more attention in the long run.