Ego check: confidence vs ego
Humility is key.
This topic is a little touchy sometimes, and walking the fine line between ego and confidence can be tricky. I'll do my best to accurately portray what an ideal "ego" looks like, but it can be a frustratingly grey area. As such, if you have any questions about this topic or just want to know more, please feel free to get in contact with me directly - I'd be more than happy to chat.
At no point will you ever be too good to learn from someone else. High-skill, competitive environments seems to be the perfect breeding ground for egos to grow. A vast majority of the people you'll be competing with have put hours upon hours upon hours of time training. That level of dedication has the potential to spark a bit of entitlement. Maybe even rightfully so; they've accomplished goals that are nearly impossible to achieve for most people. By the time you climb to the top, you're in a position that very few people can reach because you've dedicated yourself to getting there. You've earned it. You should be proud that you were able to accomplish such a difficult goal, but you need to remember when to check your ego at the door.
My time in esports is still relatively new, but I've already witnessed that sense of confidence and accomplishment turn into a big ego. I think the best way to understand the difference between confidence and ego is take each term, dissect it, and learn how to identify the positive and negative traits of each. This is, in a sense, part of developing emotional intelligence. You're gaining the ability to identify your thoughts/feelings/behaviours, trigger red flag markers when you see negative patterns, and re-evaluate your course of action. So, let's start by identifying what a negative ego may look like.
Very few people think they have an ego problem. It's hard for us to identify those "markers of ego" in ourselves and it's much easier to spot them in other people. Even I'm not immune to it. I catch myself thinking (unknowingly) that I can't learn from this person, or that person doesn't have anything they can teach me. Why does that happen? Ego. And it happens automatically. The only way I can combat that is by making sure I identify the markers of ego beforehand and actively re-evaluate how I'm acting when I see one of those flags pop up. Let's say you're playing some games with someone that's obviously less skilled than you. Are they going to be able to give you advice and help you get better all-around? Likely not (unless they're a coach). BUT, you never know what kind of strengths they may have. Maybe they have excellent communication skills, maybe they have some god-tier analytic skills, maybe they have next-level VOD review abilities, maybe they are better at some things like map movements and objective control than you. My point being: even if you're all-around better than someone in the game, they may still have the potential to teach you something new if you're always open minded and hungry to learn.
Ego can also start impacting your relationships with teammates, coaches, and even with people on other teams. It's part of the reason we see teams collapse and players getting dropped so quickly: people thinking that other people are the problem. On top of that, since it's easy to pick up ego issues when it's with someone else, other people will immediately pick up on it when they are around you, and they may start getting annoyed and frustrated at it. It's hard to manage healthy team dynamics when there is a big ego lurking around the team.
As I mentioned earlier, it's very easy to notice when other people have big egos, but it's MUCH more difficult to spot your own. Identifying your ego isn't as simple as being able to identify your weaknesses. True, that's a great place to start (and necessary) because everyone has weaknesses and everyone has areas they need to work on - if you aren't able to admit that then you've probably got some ego-related issues standing in your way. The harder area to identify is how you perceive, treat, and talk about others. It's all good and well to be dedicated to actively identifying and working on your weak spots. However, if you find yourself talking about how bad someone else is, how they don't deserve to be where they are, or constantly trying to prove that you're better than someone else, you might be dangerously close to crossing the line between confidence and ego.
To keep this week's blog from getting too long, I'm going to write "part 2: building confidence" this coming week. For now I'll leave you with this thought to consider:
Is the way you act and the way you think constructive and make you feel good about your abilities, or does it serve the purpose of making others look bad? The answer to that question might indicate which side of the line you land.