Our politicians are more moved by the supremacy of their ‘I’ than by the need for dialogue or negotiation, at least that is what some political scientists, sociologists and other current analysts argue. According to the idea, too many parliamentary representatives strive to cultivate their greatness, leave their souls to expose their talents and interpret their criteria as sovereign and irrefutable, while listening with disdain to that of others. Too many of them are overwhelmed by their ego.
But would it be better if they went unnoticed, tried to make themselves as small as possible to avoid the shame of showing up, waited for questions, even at the risk of never being invited to answer? Would it be better for politicians to have a desire for invisibility? Who knows. And what happens to the rest of the people? Which is worse in life, having an excessive ego or a personality that doesn’t attract anyone’s attention?
As with the medicines, the poison is in the dose.
Indispensable to know oneself
The ego is not only desirable, it is necessary. It is no coincidence that no one likes insecure or indecisive people. The problem comes when its size reaches disproportionate proportions. “Although the ego helps not to stop, someone like that doesn’t calibrate the answer. It does not take into account others and, therefore, this advantage fades away like cigarette paper. When in actions and decisions the ego prevails, instinctively and without knowing why, the rest feel that something is not right. Something doesn’t add up and the rejection of the unknown begins.
To get an idea of what that means, it is enough to know that more than half of executives believe that a portion of their companies’ annual revenues is lost because of that ego, according to a study included in the book Egonomics. Its authors, David Marcum and Steven Smith, came to this conclusion after interviewing some 850 managers, 63% of whom admit that the ego has a negative impact. Paul Nutt of Ohio University analyzed the decisions of hundreds of organizations over two decades and observed that most reflect an excess of ego on the part of managers, who somehow impose their opinion.
“In adequate quantities, the ego is positive and provides a healthy level of confidence and ambition, which reduces uncertainty,” confirm psychologists . But to reach that optimal level requires a psychological leap that begins with a broader assessment of our resources. Not to give is to resign oneself to a miniature life, like the one described by psychologist David Sack in an article published in the journal Psychology Today. “Lack of ego,” he says, “impedes progress and means missing opportunities to grow, learn or have fun for fear of criticism. Wanting to go unnoticed is a childish decision. We’re not disappointed, but we’re not satisfied that we’ve come a long way.
The worst thing, according to Sack, is that this type of person is always going to find a million reasons not to give the push to what they had been planning for a long time. He tells himself it won’t work, so he doesn’t move forward: “Those who don’t risk don’t get to see what they would have been able to do. It’s as much as taking off layers of creativity until it all comes down to a harmless shell.
A systematic error and a common one in social networks
The psychologist Ángeles Esteban recalls that, “thanks to the ego, the individual is aware of his own identity and has a sense of himself”. For Freud, that was precisely the first step in experimenting emotions. “The problem is,” says the psychologist, “the nonsensical assessment of oneself. There are some very eloquent anecdotes, such as this comment by Ronaldo about his problems with the Hacienda: “What makes people uncomfortable is my brightness, the insects only attack the lamps that shine. Or Donald Trump’s purchase of his own portrait for $60,000. Obsessed with the idea that his painting would be the most expensive thing in an auction, he asked them to look for a fake buyer to raise the price and the piece would reach that amount, according to former President Michael Cohen’s lawyer when he was interviewed behind closed doors by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Sara Konrath, a researcher at the University of Michigan, notes that social networks are raising the levels of narcissism in our society. It is especially noticeable in university students, who use their accounts to display their egos and control their perception in front of others. “As a social being,” admits Esteban, the human being needs by simple nature to feel admired or superior, but it starts to get unhealthy if you want to be the only winner and center of attention.
The specialist points out that the ego is beneficial in environments in which it is demanded. competitiveness and results. “However, it cannot overcome you, something that happens when you need to pass over others, you constantly seek acceptance or you put yourself on the defensive to make prevail a criterion that you consider unique and powerful. Feeding that ego has a very high cost, he says: “It’s exhausting to be always alert and defensive, with your crutches I, me, me, me…” And the results end up being negative both for oneself and for others; when psychologist Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002, was asked what systematic error he would erase from the human condition, he replied that excessive self-confidence, considering it the most damaging to history and the one that makes leaders believe that wars are easily won.
How much ego would it take to succeed?
Marcum and Smith ask themselves this question in Egonomics, knowing that this condition can be as valuable as it is destructive and starting from the fact that excess humility does not contribute to good results. Its conclusion is an ego that admits humility, curiosity and truthfulness. “Only a well-managed ego empathizes with others, conquers hearts, because self-esteem and trust generate attraction. Behind it is self-knowledge: I am good, I believe it, I trust it and everything flows naturally,” adds Gozálbes.
The advisor advises to be alert because an unreasonable ego may be masking a lack of self-confidence. “When insecurity makes an act of presence, the ego throws a party and the fears camouflaged in different masks come out onto the dance floor. If he’s afraid of rejection, he’ll be elusive. If he’s afraid of humiliation, he’ll act masochistic. If he fears treason, he will be controlling. And if he fears injustice, he will remain rigid,” he says. These are some of the faces in which the ego manifests itself. “The good thing would be that everyone knows what their fear is and what mask they wear to understand where their insecurity comes from.