Is Your Ego A Threat To Your Financial Well-Being?

Earlier in my career I went to visit a prospective client who was referred to me. I was excited at this opportunity to bring in a new client and new revenue to the firm.

In the meeting, the individual was rude and condescending. Maybe it was because I was relatively young or maybe he was having a bad day – whatever the reason – suffice to say the meeting did not go well.

I returned to my office in a foul mood that I did little to hide. After observing me throw things around my desk for a while, an older, wiser colleague asked me what was the matter. I told him the story of the mistreatment I received at the hands of this prospective client. My colleague paused, smiled and said simply: “Don’t let your ego get in the way of making money”. Then he left.

What? What do ego and making money have to do with each other? I was treated poorly and I had a right to be angry.

My colleague invited me out for a drink after work. He asked if I understood what he meant. I had calmed down by this point (somewhat) and was ready to listen.

He told me letting this individual get to me was my fault. We cannot control the actions of others but we can control how we react. If we put our egos aside we can better read situations and find solutions that work to our advantage.

I tried to carry that advice with me. Here are some of the ways it has helped:

  1. Firm success does not mean the staff is happy. As Partners we tend to define success in profits – a great ego boost. Our staff is more focused on their own job satisfaction. I try to never lose sight of this.
  1. Competition is a fact of life. We like to tell ourselves that we don’t have any real competition in our niche or region. We have a great team, solid methodology and happy clients. A healthy attitude towards competition is a very good thing. It drives us to improve what we do and how we do it.
  1. No breath is better than bad breath. Knowing when to cut your losses is a valuable skill. Whether it’s an unreasonable client or an under-performing technology or service partner, ending the relationship and moving forward is almost always preferable. Even if it was your decision that you are reversing.