Photograph by Leonora Saunders via Getty Images
By John Hall
March 14, 2017

When you’re an entrepreneur doing everything you can to build your company, you might feel like you’ve got a million things to do. When push comes to shove, though, two major areas demand your complete attention: leading the vision of your company and limiting the risk of its downfall.

But what if the biggest risk to your company is you? When you let pride or ego get in the way, you can become your team’s biggest liability.

It’s easy to get caught up in the experience and let success become a distraction. My co-founder and I started Influence & Co. right as the content marketing industry was picking up speed, and we’ve been fortunate to have the winds at our back for the past five years.

Still, when things are going well, and I feel like our company just might be on the verge of taking over the world, I remember that pride comes before a fall. Your industry can always change, and if you’re not self-aware, that change can cost you.

To ensure my pride doesn’t limit my company’s growth, I’ve learned a few methods to check it at the door. Here are three ways you can do the same:

1. Remind yourself daily that feedback is a gift.

No one enjoys hearing his groundbreaking idea wasn’t great or that he says “Uh” too much in his speeches (or that he shouldn’t have had that second glass of wine because now his teeth are stained red and look scary). All of these things happened to me recently, and none of them was awesome to hear.

I’m already pretty hard on myself, so hearing from others what I could have done differently sometimes feels like criticisms being piled on. Rather than let pride stand in the way, I reply with a simple question: What can I do to improve?

Since I started seeking feedback after my keynote speeches, my public speaking has improved, my presentations are stronger, and my relationships are more transparent. You can never reach your potential without accepting constructive feedback. Don’t hide from it; embrace it.

2. Never trade valuable relationships for a quick ego boost.

I once met a passionate entrepreneur through mutual friends who had made it their mission to help one another. This entrepreneur had nearly approached bankruptcy, but his company was on the rise, and you could tell he was about to turn his luck around.

Today, he and his company are doing well, and I recently asked those mutual friends whether they were still working with him. They said no. Once everything took off, those relationships weren’t as important as the money and material things that had come with success.

I’ve always valued helpful relationships built on trust and honesty; letting pride seep in can isolate you from them. Sacrificing relationships for ego strokes is dangerous and unsustainable, and it puts your company at risk.

3. Surround yourself with people who challenge you to become better.

A recent interview with Tim Ferriss reminded me of Jim Rohn’s belief that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and I couldn’t agree more. In my early 20s, I found some success — but I associated with some people whose values I didn’t agree with, who were honestly as arrogant as they come. Eventually, I found myself becoming that kind of person.

So I wrote a list of qualities I valued and wanted to embody. Since then, I’ve surrounded myself with people who possess those qualities — and help me cultivate the same traits. I’m now blessed to have partners, peers, employees, and friends who are the most humble, hardworking, and helpful people I know, and that’s the biggest reason any success has come my way.

None of this is to say that you shouldn’t celebrate your wins. There’s no harm in feeling proud of yourself for your achievements. The problem is when you let pride keep you from leading the vision of your company and minimizing risk. Stay humble, take every opportunity to learn, and commit to achieving the growth you want to see.

John Hall is the co-founder and CEO of Influence & Co., a keynote speaker, and the author of “Top of Mind.”

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