Bruised Egos and Broken Leaders

For too many leaders a bruised ego can feel like a life threatening injury.

When we are driven by insecurity we are dangerously vulnerable to being devastated by the slightest critique or failure. Our self worth is tentatively balanced between arrogance and self-hatred and we need constant boosts and affirmations to keep us from tipping into despair.

Maybe your experience is less dramatic, but most of us can relate to the sense of our identity being too closely tied to our performance and the approval of others. If we don’t get a handle on that insecurity it can all too easily lead us astray; with potentially devastating effects.

So what can we do? How can we practically defend against being undermined by insecurity and threatened by bruised egos?

1. Dig Deep: Ask yourself “What are the deepest truths about me?”. Explore the things that root your core identity. Consider both the things about you that are apparent on the surface (roles, titles, achievements, etc.) and the things that are much more personal (essential relationships, fundamental attributes, deepest beliefs). What are the anchors to your confidence that are least dependent on things outside your control and that give you the the surest sense of being seen, known, worthy, and loved?

2. Regular Reminders: Figure out ways to bring yourself back to these truths as often as possible. Post them in your bathroom, tattoo them on your arm, create or buy artwork that brings them into focus, attend a weekly religious meeting that affirms them, set a calendar notification to bring them up daily… The point is to understand that there are innumerable distractions and lies that will try to prevent us from living out of a secure, confident identity and we need intentional rituals and reminders to stay on track.

3. Seek Support: Being healthy as a leader is a team sport and a group activity. Find people you look up to and get them to mentor you formally or informally. Find friends and peers who can run alongside you for peer encouragement. Choose a couple people with potential you can invest in so you can learn by teaching. Taking the risk of vulnerability with even one person who will call you back to your best intentions and identity is a needed and a powerful act of defiance against everything that tries to drag you down.

4. Give Grace: You’re going to mess this up. There will be times when you are fatigued, distracted, or just plain selfish and you let insecurity have too much say in your life and leadership. The question is: How long will you let your mistakes and failures stay in control? How much damage and discouragement will you allow them to bring? By expecting your own imperfection you create space to acknowledge it, address it, and move forward in healthier ways.

One of my favourite things to do with Catalyst is meet with leaders individually (PACE Sessions) or as groups (Kryptonite workshops) to talk through the dangers of bruised egos and the things we can do to foster deeper rooted confidence.

Contact us to talk about how we can help you and your team.

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