I received the most unexpected email the other day from a self-made CEO of such and so that I interviewed late last year. The CEO inquired if she was on the list of our 50 Women of Distinction.
No, she was not nominated; and that’s a good thing—I can tell you freely that the CEO ranks in the top three of the worst people I’ve ever met.
During our interview, the self-made CEO of such and so summoned an intern into her office to berate her--in front of me--about getting the wrong lunch order. The intern’s rich, ebony complexion turned various shades of red and the young woman was on the verge of tears.
“You can leave now,” the CEO seethed. “I’ll just feed this lunch to the garbage.”
Wait–it gets worse. Far worse. The intern’s supervisor tapped on the door and asked the CEO if she wanted her to step out and get a different lunch order, as she heard what had gone wrong. “Look at you,” the CEO said. “I would never eat anything you gave me.”
As the woman shut the door, the CEO quipped, “fat women are always trying to feed me. I work hard to look like this.”
Loving yourself is a good thing, and is vital for your growth emotional protection and professional success. Some of us, like the self-made CEO, take loving ourselves a bit too far, and have entered into the arena of self-worship—and that’s a very dangerous place to be.
The overgrown ego is at fault here.
It’s easy to spot a person with an overgrown ego note the authors at the World of Positive Energy.
“The word "I", no more than a single letter, sums up your ego. This letter dominates your life completely. I want to be in the picture, look what I did, or I'm the greatest. I, I, I. This "I world" emerged when people started to manipulate and dominate. It was no longer fighting to survive, but fighting to gain control over others.”
More often than not, the ego is at the root of bad personal decisions, and can lead to some very bad behaviors when the ego is bruised.
Think of the many times someone warned you that what you do in the dark will reveal itself in the light; the warning had truth to it, as the dangerous ego relies on the cloak of darkness to flourish states author Kevin Fitzmaurice.
“Ego purposely misperceives the light as the cause of its pain. Ego therefore seeks--darkness, covering, lying, reframing, defenses, rationalizations, the abuse excuse, blaming others, blaming society, blaming the environment, blaming childhood experiences, damning others, persecuting others, suppression, repression, whining, avoiding, escaping, etc.,--as ways of escaping and avoiding the light."
On the professional level, an ego can destroy a career or a company, notes Dan Bobinski, CEO and Director of the Center for Workplace Excellence.
“Ego is a funny thing,” he notes. “It’s a vital part of our drive for success, but when anyone in positions of authority (be they police officers, politicians, or workplace supervisors at any level) start thinking they’re invincible, it’s time for a reality check. People in positions of authority can empower or demoralize an environment, depending on what role they give their egos.”
I personally believe that those successful types who do not give credit to a higher power or anyone else for helping them along the way are especially susceptible to an overgrown ego and, eventually, will self-destruct.
Fortunately, conventional wisdom has shown that nothing cures the overgrown ego quite like a dose of reality--delivered by Karma.