EVERYONE HAS AN EGO…
We all have egos-some are bigger and some are smaller. Ego is oneself as compared to others. Ego is also the tool within us that is the middleman between us and reality. Think of yourself carrying two baskets. One is a basket full of all the things you do right (praise, accolades, awards, etc.) and one is full of all the things you and society deem as wrong (negative re-enforcement, punishment, etc.) Your ego is recognizing the basket of the things you do right and ignoring the things you do wrong.
Ego is very similar to grief, depression, happiness, etc. With ego there are the highest highs and lowest lows. It can wash over you like a wave. If our greatest sports stars didn’t have egos, they probably wouldn’t have achieved what they did. Michael Jordan wouldn’t have been a star if his ego wasn’t bruised by his high school coach who cut him and/or his internal motivation to win. Competition directly relates to ego. You are trying to prove to your opponent you are superior to them-which very much relates to one’s ego. It is in our competitive nature to have egos. The best way to control ego, is to be cognizant of it.
Two personality types when dealing with ego are confident humility and confident arrogance. Figuring out how to be more of a confident and humble person can help control ego in sports. It makes you more coachable and more well rounded mentally. Let’s discuss the two types more in depth.
Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Wayne Gretzky, and Ted Williams NEVER claimed they were the best of all time; however, others made that case for them. The best way to control your ego is to have confident humility. Learn to be confident, without letting the praise go to your head. Sports is the ultimate humbler anyways, so already being confident and humble is key. The confidently humble person also realizes that sports are about what you do right now in the moment and nothing else matters. They also accept the failures that come with competition and let it drive and motivate them.
This is when you let praise go to your head OR you feel you are not given enough praise as compared to others. Confident arrogance is simply pretending on the outside one is confident, but they are actually insecure. It is a blind spot in reality vs. perception. A person who talks down on other competitors and is not willing to praise other’s accomplishments is an example of confident arrogance. Also, these competitors look at sports as a battle, not a war. They have the tendency to get overconfident before the job is finished (think of teams up 3-0 or 3-1 in a series that squandered it or someone who is hot for a brief period in a game)
One more thing…
We cannot do an article about ego without talking about parent ego, which is very much driving youth sports today. Think of parent ego as everything mentioned above, but with the parent taking on the persona of the athlete. Basically, the parent is as invested or more invested in the outcomes of the competition than the player. It is essentially living vicariously through the athlete. The parent ego needs to be fed through praise of their child. It often comes from an unselfish place of wanting what is best for their kids but can also be extremely unhealthy at times. Again, parents exhibiting confident humility can oftentimes control this parent ego better.
Ego is tricky. As mentioned earlier, those sports stars may have NEVER claimed they are the best of all time, but also may have been confidently arrogant at some point throughout their careers. This means that we may not always exhibit just one throughout life, but if we can focus more on being a confident and humble person, it can very much go a long way to help keep egos in check.