The ego is an aspect of the human personality that has always intrigued me, it is something that I believe every person on this earth possesses to varying degrees. It is a particularly fickle thing and it can be the difference between failure and success. For some, it is an asset and sits on their shoulders perfectly, think Mohammed Ali, Steve Jobs & Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. They can manifest it into a public persona and when you combine their strong egos with an thriving work ethic, it is no surprise they all rose to be the absolute greatest in their respective fields.
For others, it weighs them down like an anchor and try as they might they cannot rise due to this overwhelming weight dragging them into the abyss. Think Ted in Scrubs, Ross in Friends and any other sad sack that comes to mind. Personally, I have swayed towards the Jobs side of ego for most of my life (even in the wet look Brylcreem years) but particularly in the last few years thanks to Avalanche and the immense amount of pride that I take in my work.
Ego & talent are two very different things but I believe that they are very closely linked and they lend themselves to each other. I think that the ego is in place from a very young age and through different avenues it either grows or becomes stagnant. Having an activity that you have a natural talent for as a child helps this tremendously. It gives people a head start in life and if they have the discipline, it can help them develop skills which will be useful in later life. Talent is a very different thing from ego and it is something you may have naturally but it needs to be developed by pouring thousands of hours into your vision/work and attacking the things that you are afraid of. I have always been very aggressive in this regard except for one very notable exception that to this day still terrifies me.
I get asked all the time how I managed to do what I do at such a young age (FYI, I am always thinking I should be doing/accomplished more) but I've never viewed myself as particularly talented at what I do, it's rather like Mr. Jobs & Ali, I just have an obsessive, sickening work ethic and a refusal to be outworked by anyone. For years now, while competitors are slacking and putting things off, I am working. While they are eating, I am working. When they are sleeping, I am working. I remember watching a documentary on Floyd Mayweather where he trained at night to get a mental edge on his opponent and I also have a similar technique as I too believe it gives me an edge. As someone who struggles to sleep, this helps to occupy a racing mind and ensure that I retain that challenger mindset. It helps with my obsession with pushing myself and achieving every target I set for myself.
I've always attacked whatever I do with absolutely everything I have. It is a trait I have always had and one that I share with my father and something I am very proud of. Be it work, the gym or even over Christmas when friends arrive home and I don't leave the local for a week. I'm just dedicated like that.. You can take pride in a lot of things but I believe that having a strong ego is a healthy advantage for entrepreneurs, particularly those like myself who were in their early twenties when they began. I am going to be 27 shortly (When did that happen?!) and I know that most people would agree with me when I say I have a strong ego, even people who only know me from this blog and social media.
I believe it is necessary to ensure you don't trip up in the early days of entrepreneurship, so take some pride in what you are doing and do not be afraid to shout it out when something goes right for you. Irish people as a whole are terrible at this and we all seek to instantly downplay any achievements.
When it comes to design & development there is always a solution to a problem, you just need to able to identify it. Obviously, in your quiet moments, you question every decision you make, you wonder if the naysayers are correct but it is important to try and keep an eye on the horizon and focus on what you are trying to do.
People who are negative towards you are insignificant because I think that if people can't do something themselves, they want to tell you that can't do it. Ego & greatness is within everyone and when you break it down really it is very simple. When you find something, you have a talent for, work hard, be humble at all times but when you get the opportunity, make sure you show the world what you can do. If you are lucky, like me, you will just so happen to love what you do and it will make everything a lot easier.
Do not settle for mediocrity. Mediocrity is a cancer among our society as people become terrified to take a risk on anything and do not want to back themselves against the world. Refuse to accept second place. Don't you dare back down, not today or any other day. Set a higher standard. Outwork your rivals and earn that ego and the right to have pride in your abilities. While I have preached a lot about ego and its importance for a young entrepreneur, it is equally important to be humble and grateful for any opportunities that come your way. Thank everyone who helps you, even those who just provide an ear for you to rant, when you have the opportunity, give back to charities and clubs as much as you can and never forget where you came from and why you started your business. Write it down and keep it somewhere as a motivational too. Mine is simple and I keep it in my wallet always.
I want my work to mean something, I want to do good and I want the world to be better because I was here.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. - Steve Jobs, 2005.