The creative workplace is often a parade of ego and insecurity. Because of the subjective nature of creative work, people sometimes feel the need to posture themselves to appear “strong” and confident, but they are really only masking their uncertainty and lack of confidence. Worse, entire teams sometimes bend to the will of those who are the loudest, most aggressive, and most seemingly certain, even when they are abu- sive. Because their egos have made them inflexible to the point that they cannot be persuaded, everyone just accommodates them. But ego is not the same as confidence. Confident people are adaptable to new circum- stances, whereas ego-driven people are inflexible and only interested in protecting their own interests. Confident people look outward, while ego-driven people only look inward to their own needs and ambitions.
Confidence says, “I believe I can get this right,” whereas ego says, “I can do no wrong.”
Confidence says, “I’m valuable,” whereas ego says, “I’m invaluable.”
Confidence says, “Get out of my way,” whereas ego says, “Here’s my strong, considered perspective.”
These are fundamentally different mindsets. Unfortunately, some people defer to ego because it always comes across boldly and loudly. However, volume is not truth and aggression is not true insight.
You must cultivate the trait of creative confidence, but be wary of leading with ego. One path leads to strong, trustworthy collaboration and the other to isolated, lonely creative dysfunction.
Don’t confuse ego (self-protection) with confidence (self- projection).
Do you need to increase your level of creative confidence? Have you ever encountered someone who led with their ego? What happened?