Let’s talk about ‘ego’.
The concept of ‘ego’ can translate to many different things. For the purpose of this article I am referring to the drive to think about yourself in a positive light, your level of self-promotion and a sense of your own importance.
People often talk about ego as if it’s an evil beast; however, from where I’m sitting, once you recognise the familiar traits of ‘egotism’ and realise they are another extension of the voice inside your head, it’s not all bad.
If you strip away the somewhat negative aspects of a person’s ego and the knock-on effects, such as selfishness, narcissism and a lack of empathy, it also represents passion, strength and confidence. Undisputedly, these latter traits are needed to succeed in this industry – and, you may say, particularly as a female.
So how can we keep our ego in check and harness its positive power?
Tame the voice
In my career I have personally struggled to balance the seesaw, so that my ego is present but not in control. When I’m in ‘drive’ mode then it’s pedal to the metal, both mentally and physically. This is when my ego comes in handy. I’ve got that little voice in the back of my head that says, ‘you’ve got this, you can do it’. This can be an asset in helping you get to peak performance and calibrating your pace and effectiveness at work.
On the flip side, when the ego takes over you let it rule your behaviour, and that’s when you can be unbearable. Perhaps you lose the ability to think and communicate rationally or show necessary empathy in a situation.
Confidence is essential to be successful, but to have a complementary softer, approachable and consultative side is equally, if not more, powerful and essential. This is the side that I strive to cultivate.
Back yourself, but be relatable. I channel my self-confidence and will always be my own number one fan, but I strive to remain humble. At the end of the day, if you don’t back yourself as the number one choice for a potential client, then why should they? Trial, error and experience will allow you to find that sweet spot of confidence and humility.
The balancing act
Picture an average day in real estate: you wake up, pump out a morning workout, check emails, get into the office by 8.30, rush from open to open, return calls, attend client meetings, list, negotiate, sell, not to mention work out when to eat, plan dinner and make a booking for a Saturday night at Gold Class cinemas you should have done weeks ago.
It’s a busy schedule, but it can be exhilarating – and it requires a little (or a lot!) of mental energy to be competitive, confident and sustain peak performance all day. Often your ego is cranked up to the max in your work environment; but, believe me, if you don’t learn to keep it in check it can take away everything that’s truly important to you.
Then it gets to around 7 pm, 8 pm or even 9 pm. I’m done for the day and I expect myself to automatically switch off.
Strategies for success
There needs to be something that helps the transition from work to home. I can’t bring that pace and ego into my personal relationships, family events or catch-ups with friends. Not only will I be unbearable, but that energy is unnecessary. I need to turn the volume down.
Turning off the ego doesn’t come naturally or easily to anyone, so I recommend introducing any measure that serves as a gentle tap on the shoulder. It could be a ten-minute meditation, hitting the gym, going for a brisk walk, a quote framed on your wall, a sticky note on a mirror or even an alarm on your phone.
We all can benefit from implementing strategies that help us leave work at work. There is a time and place for a higher level of confidence, or ego, but personally, I find it necessary to remind myself that I don’t have to be ‘on’ all the time.
I heard a story once at a conference about a guy who had a separate entrance into his house through his bedroom, so he could unwind and undress from his ‘power suit’. This allowed him to be calm and present by the time he entered the family home to greet his wife and kids.
The ‘off’ switch can be tricky to master. It took a bit of trial and error for me, but testing out different ideas, trying holistic methods and surrounding myself with the best support network has equipped me with what I need to set clear boundaries between work and home.
This translates to my striving to control my ego: use it for good and send it away when it’s not needed.
Learning when to listen to your ego and when to turn down its volume can contribute to longevity and mental clarity, as well as be a huge advantage in both business and your personal life.