Why Your Ego Needs To Stop Controlling Your Career

The most successful show us that making your dream job a reality has very little to do with money.

It always seems the job you would love never comes with the pay you want.

Money is unfortunately a necessity that we all need in order to survive, and its significance causes us to make decisions and create goals that are derived from the idea of attaining wealth. It is often our primary motivator in life.

However, if we look back at the most successful people in the world, their motivation and drive had less to do with money than one may think. And this surprisingly enough is often what enabled them to succeed.

Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, has always encouraged others to follow their heart and make a difference: “I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off doing nothing.”

How Did They Do It?

The most successful often begin by joining or starting a company based around an idea that resonated with them on a personal level. They had a genuine interest in the product and were passionate about its potential.

Their belief in the product stemmed from the problems it would solve, the needs it would fill, and the value that it would bring others, not from the money they would make.

Because their passion, interest, and motivation with the business was not derived from a financial perspective, their decisions were no longer influenced by their ego.

By eliminating your ego, you are no longer creating a product and making decisions based around what is good for you; you’re doing it first and foremost for the customer, the most important person to your business.

Without customers a business fails. So the more we put ourselves in their shoes, the better. We hear more, understand more, and are able to deliver a product that will bring immense value to them; which in return will bring the same to us.

Putting Money Where Mouths Are

For a year, I had the pleasure of working as a consultant at Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond, Washington. One of the most important decisions I made was when I advised a client not to use our company for a large project because I had found a less expensive alternative.

Too many business owners and sales reps have a quota-first mentality, which can disrupt their ability to communicate with clients and can sabotage long-term relationships. In meetings they become desperate to make the sale and begin listening to respond, instead of listening to listen. By taking myself out of the equation the client and I were able to discover three brand-new opportunities that were much more substantial than the first.

Many of us are guilty at some point of taking the wrong job for the right money. We know it’s not what we really want to do, but we think that the additional money will motivate us and make up for what’s truly missing. Over time that missing gap often widens and we coast along being somewhat comfortable but never fully satisfied.

No one has summed up the money vs. passion conundrum as best as Steve Jobs:

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.


Why do what you love?

So you can persevere.

If you're passionate about a cause, setbacks will only motivate you to learn and make the necessary adjustments until you succeed. If you are unsure of what you love to do, then start discovering your passion for fear.

It is often our fear of failure and fear of what others think that dictate our decisions in life. Instead of letting fear catapult you back to your comfort zone, start using it as a guide to stay out of there. Follow your fears and attack them until you find your true calling.

When your heart and mind match up, you become an unstoppable force.

--Graham Young is co-founder of Graham Theodor & Co., an investment holding company, and he manages business development for ePACT Network, a technology startup. the psychology behind personal achievement and how individuals reach their peak performance. Connect with him on Twitter.

[Image: RAGMA IMAGES via Shutterstock]

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18 Comments

  • billrosenkrantz

    Love the article. I often refer to the ego interplay as "noise" that makes it more difficult for people to distinguish between what the truly want versus what the think they should do (ego). Can you explain what you mean by using fear as a guide?

  • Sorry for that long reply hope it answered your question! Also, feel free to follow my blog. I will be creating unique strategies that you can use for personal growth, professional achievement and reaching peak performance. I hope it provides some value! www.grahamyoungblog.com

  • Thank you for the comment Bill. I apologize for my delayed response as I am unfortunately not notified when a comment is left. Regarding using fear as I guide, it kind of touches on what you mentioned with what a person truly wants vs what their ego is telling them to do. Often our ego will tell us to do things based on beliefs that we have picked up throughout our life. It will often tell us to take the safe job with the most money, or keep the current reliable job we have because taking a risk might bring on criticism from others etc. In the end it is linked in some ways to fear. We're afraid to go against these beliefs of ours that have been with us for so long. Our ego pops up with different emotions like anxiety to stop us from making these new choices as well. So I suggest that when you notice that fear is holding you back from doing something, maybe start following that fear and attacking it instead of taking the usual path.For in the end it's not win or lose, it's win or learn!

  • senake.r

    Whatever your personal reasons for working, the bottom line, however, is that almost everyone works for money. Whatever you call it: compensation, salary, bonuses, benefits or remuneration, money pays the bills. Money provides housing, gives children clothing and food, sends teens to college, and allows leisure activities, and eventually, retirement. To underplay the importance of money and benefits as motivation for people who work is a mistake.

  • Senake, thanks for your comment. I agree that money will always be a motivator for most people. As I mention, it is a necessity that we need in order to survive and because of this will always play a factor in our decisions in life. But because this is such a common way of thinking for us all, I wrote this article to provide a different perspective. I find when you follow your passion and a cause that helps others, the money tends to follow you too. However, at the end of the day everyone is different and you're right, downplaying the importance of money could easily disrupt the motivation of certain individuals.

  • odelljh

    You could view "doing what you love" as the ultimate expression of ego. Many, especially in prior generations, did whatever was necessary to make life better for their families and children. I'm thankful they did. We should be careful not to discourage those that work hard in jobs they don't love. They may have other, very noble goals in life besides just accumulating money.

  • Odelljh, that's a great point. You're absolutely right, in many cases people do not have the luxury of being able to take the risk to discover what they love to do. And because of that must work jobs they are not fond of in order to support their family. There will always be two sides to every situation and I'm definitely not trying to discourage anyone. My hope is to encourage others to not just look at money as a means to determine what job to take. But to follow a cause they are passionate about and one that is based on the value it can bring others.

  • Glaiza Pinlac

    I love your article Graham :D very motivating and inspiring !! Awesome job ' two thumbs up'

  • Corinne Rogan

    Then, U MUST have support. No man is an island.
    When U R alone, it's lonely & that's where you'll stay.

    Love the neighborhood concept. Neighbor to neighbor.

  • "Because their passion, interest, and motivation with the business was not derived from a financial perspective, their decisions were no longer influenced by their ego."

    Re-read this sentence bro. Think about how untrue this is. :D

    We have egos in everything, not just money

  • Thanks for the comment Andrew. I agree with you that the ego is involved in other things and not just money. However, I find with most people when it comes to our career, the ego is usually tied closest to money. And for the sake of brevity as this is an on-line article I couldn't go into too much more detail. I hope to put together another piece in the future that dives more into the ego and touches on those good points you made.

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  • catherinebucher

    Very well written Graham! Really enjoyed reading this! Congrats on your successes!!

  • lindsay.e.young

    Love the article Graham! I always look forward to reading your blog, very motivating and inspiring.