Ego Management - How Humilty Saves Time

<p><i>“Pride comes before a fall”</i> and in the meantime we waste plenty of time. Over 70% of business people believe that ego costs their company 6-20% of annual revenue, and that over one-third of all failed business decisions are driven by ego (Marcum & Smith). On the personal front the time, emotional and financial costs are higher. This article focuses on how humility can save a lot of time. In fact, humility alone may save you more time than being a master of time management.
<img src="/sites/default/files/ego management time.jpg" alt="Ego management time" width="300"/><!--break-->
Humility can save time in the following ways:
<h3>1. Taking corrective action early saves time</h3>
<i>“There are few more disastrous components of decision making than a failure to get – and act upon – feedback”</i> (Hayward)

We waste time (our and others) when we continue down the wrong path instead of admitting wrong and taking a corrective course of action. We often do this to try and protect our reputation (or at least the reputation we think we have).

<img src="/sites/default/files/save-time-early-corrective-action.JPG" alt="Take Corrective Action Early Saves Time" width="450"/>

Humility leads to listening and accepting that we have made mistakes and need to take corrective action.

<h3>2. Avoiding the need to impress saves time</h3>
Much of our time is wasted doing things to ‘impress’ or conform. For example:
<li>Buying to impress - Often people buy to feed their ego or impress a friend. (e.g – buying expensive clothing, watches, cars, houses, etc) . An important question to ask is - How much work time is need to pay for this ego-boosting stuff?
<li>Taking stupid risks to gain praise. For example, drivers showing off; mountain climbers going too far.
<li>Excessive grooming. Why do people spend so much time grooming themselves?
<li>Inappropriate career choices. How many people choose careers for the prestige?
<li>Spotless homes?
<li>How much of our time is spent choosing words to impress, or hide our failings?
Humility saves time by accepting ourselves, being real, and spending our time on things that really matter.

We also loss time in meetings because we do not want to appear stupid. The fear of asking a ‘stupid question’ is driven by pride and is a big time waster. Humility allows us to risk look foolish for the sake of making better use of our time.

<h3>3. Finding better solutions saves time</h3>
<i>“Ego blinds you to the truth and robs you of the opportunity to see new roads to success.”</i> (Joanne Cini)

Humility enables us to put our energy into finding the best solution rather than wasting time seeking to prove ‘I am right’, or that ‘my solution is best’. Pride can lead to an emotional attachment to an idea that isn’t optimal.

Our pride can hinder good decisions by – not respecting the competition, thinking that we know what is best for others (eg- customers, staff, family), and overestimating our abilities. Humility opens us up to new and better ideas, keeps us grounded in the truth, and can lead to better decision making and time-saving.

<h3>4. Asking for help saves time</h3>
Due to pride we may see asking for help as a sign of weakness. Rather than seek help and get the problem resolved we struggle on wasting more and more time and resources. We see this in household management, doctor avoidance, asking for directions, and of course the workplace.

<img src="/sites/default/files/help-saves-time.JPG" alt="Help Saves Time" width="450"/>

Humility saves time by allowing us to ask for help and get things done quicker.

<h3>5. Being open minded saves learning time</h3>
<i>“Once humility creates an open mind and a deep commitment to progress, curiosity is the active ingredient that drives the exploration of ideas”</i> (Marcum & Smith)

One of the great dangers of ego is that we start to think we already ‘know it all’ or that we can’t learn from certain people. I am guilty on this – many times I have switched off and not listened to a speaker because (I think) “I already know it”.

Humility enables us to learn from anyone, make the most of learning opportunities, and break new boundaries in our thinking. Humility helps us realise that maybe I do need to change.

<h3>6. Being part of a great team saves time</h3>
<i> “Excessive comparison … turns colleagues into competitors, and competitors aren’t effective collaborators”</i>. (Marcum & Smith)

For many teams egos lead to clashes, competitiveness, ‘turf protecting’, poor listening, lack of information sharing and other ineffective behavior. This of course leads to time wasting.

Ego can lead to managers not hiring people who might be ‘better than them’, or personally taking credit for the team’s effort. It can also lead to team meetings that are more about showing-off than productivity.

Humility enables us to be part of better teams. It enables us to realize that the team can achieve far more than we can by myself.

<h3>7. Forgiveness avoids lost time</h3>
Too much time is lost in life due to broken relationships. Humility allows us to make a genuine apology, move on, and hopefully restore important relationships.

<i>"Many people who are able to create lasting value in a short time share a common attribute: humility."</i> (Vince Poscente, 'The Age of Speed'))
<h3>Other articles from the <a href="
"><u>'Better than Time Management'</u></a> series</h3>
<li><a href=" Management - How managing personal energy levels saves time</u></a>
<li><a href=""><u>How Trust Saves Time</u></a>
<h3>Other articles of interest</h3>
<a href=" cost of Arrogant Leadership (Self-Leadership Coaching Blog)</u></a>
Cini, Joanne, <i>"Kingmaker: Be the one your company wants to keep"</i>, FT Press, 2004.

Hayward M, <i>"Ego Check – why executive hubris is wrecking companies and careers and how to avoid the trap"</i>, Kaplan Publishing, 2007

Marcum & Smith, <i>"Egonomics – what makes ego our greatest asset (or most expensive liability)"</i>.



I appreciate the thoughtful comment.

Thanks, great article.
Yes ego is a source of many problems but isn't it also a drive for people to produce more, being more ambitious?
Is there a balance possible between both?

I like this artcile and I agree with the fact that ego retards thinking and growth of an individual. I work in India as a Project manager for a top MNC and have observed that several projects failed due to ego and self interest of stakeholders and ego leading to lack of team work.
Ego problems are increasing a lot nowadays with the new generation people in India. Can you guide me and let me know what can be done to manage ego's of the team and the stakeholders to meet the project objectives within time and budget constraints.
Today, Indian Software company employees (especially the new generation) are getting infected with ego's and as a result there is a loss to the companies revenue and reputation.