Leave your ego behind

Written by: Emanuel Blagonic

Published on: January 29, 2014

Today, I’m gonna talk about human ego. Can we apprehend it, how to deal with it, what is good and what is bad. This is not a psychological article but it is written from my perspective, talking about my own ego problems and how I (hopefully) managed to keep it under control.

Humans are the only entities where ego is observed apparently and up to variable extent in the state of consciousness dividing them further into egoistic, egotistic, egomaniac, etc.

When you’re young

Everyone has an ego. The real question is — is it under control and how expressed it is? Problem with ego is that you usually don’t see it as a problem. I certainly did not. Here is my story. At the age of 18 I started working on local television. This is (in my opinion at least) one of the biggest ego boosters there is. I started doing cover stories, news reports on politics, culture, sports — everything one local television needs. And yes, I flew so damn high.

When I look back from todays’ perspective I was terrible. I was an egomaniac. This lasted for 1–2 years before I realized how silly I was. Hey, I was working on a local television with a coverage of around 100k and viewership of maybe 10k (at best). So, I was basically nothing. Yes, I did interviewed some Croatian politicians (and even covered the presidential campaign when Stipe Mesić was elected president), I was there when we voted first Croatian social–democratic government and did several stories about it, I spoked with Miss Croatia (don’t remember the year anymore though), with actors, musicians, but then again — not many people were interested. Lesson learned — ego is a burden most of the time. I should stop being a dick. And with 20 years I’m certainly not the smartest person on the planet.

Designer ego (and how to overcome it)

But no, I couldn’t learn a lesson so fast. You are designers yourselves and you know about your own ego issues. Hey, if you nodded in negative manner than you have bigger problem than me. After I started working in web design industry my ego was under control most of the time. But at one point I thought I was so awesome that I shouldn’t work harder. And then I lost a prospective client. Afterward I’ve asked him what I did wrong and he said: “You did nothing wrong but you didn’t try hard enough. You have chosen the easy way and this wasn’t right”. Wow, I fucked up big time because I couldn’t see the larger perspective. And because of my ego I didn’t try hard enough. This is a common problem for young designers.

It’s difficult to see your own problems, but your ego will be a problem if you:

  • are always right, no matter what anyone else tells you
  • don’t think that your client can have smart suggestions
  • quote design books you’ve read, all the time, everyday
  • think that you’re the best designer in your city/region/country/world (you can’t be serious to think that you’re the best designer in the world!? o.O)

Yes, we all have an ego. I’ve chosen to be modest, think twice before I say anything (especially if that can hurt some else’s feelings), try to compete instead of being a dick.

Compete, not envy

I believe in competition. I don’t envy anyone. If a person or a company from my country succeeds I will be happy for them. If someone asks for help I’ll always try to help. I didn’t choose to have a large ego (which is rather difficult since I’m a control freak when it comes to writing code, designing, preparing Photoshop files and more) but I have chosen to compete with others.

Just look around and you will see people that can inspire you, companies that work hard to make it on the market. If you get inspired by them you won’t have time to think about how great you are. We’re not great. We can always do better.

Stupidity combined with arrogance and a huge ego will get you a long way.

— Chris Lowe, Pet Shop Boys