I’ll admit it: I have an ego. I like to be praised when I do something well (and maybe even when I didn’t do so well). I’m pretty sure I’m not alone, though.
It’s probably a safe bet that most of us have an ego – even if we don’t show outward signs of one. After all, who doesn’t want to feel good about their abilities?
Ego in itself is not bad. It can be quite beneficial to your design career and life. But there’s a fine line between using it healthily and letting it get in your way.
Today, we will dive into the good, the bad, and the ugly of designer ego.
How A Healthy Ego Can Strengthen Your Business
A little ego can be a good thing indeed. For one, it can bring a higher level of confidence when approaching your work. Instead of worrying that a project is impossible, you will be reassured about your ability to take it on.
If you have confidence and the right perspective, you can be humble to a certain extent. Knowing that you have talent and reputation sets a high level of expectation. It can help you stay focused and hard at work.
The more you rise to the challenge, the more this all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You will stay hungry while achieving your goals.
Moving forward, a healthy ego can guide you to make sound business decisions. A balance of confidence and awareness will help you decide which projects to jump on and which ones to turn down.
You won’t feel desperate to seize every opportunity. Instead, you’ll stay with the right one.
How to Get there
It takes time to develop a “good” ego. You may have to go through some ups and downs before you get a fair view of yourself and your abilities.
First, realize that you are human and will make mistakes. When you do, accept responsibility, and try to make it right. Do your best to learn from what happened and move on.
Trust can be a fragile thing. During rough patches, remember why you became a designer in the first place.
Think about what motivated you. Maybe someone inspired you along the way. You can trust your love of design to remember.
For example, I like to recall some of the first websites I built. Although they wouldn’t be very impressive by today’s standards, they make me proud. I also look back on some mentors who helped me learn and develop.
Even after a long day of work, I would go home and spend hours practicing and creating. Back then, it felt good to me. Now, it helps me remember where it all started. It’s something I can turn to when confidence is low.
When Your Ego Can Be a Problem
We are all surrounded by cases of egos gone mad. Whether you’re reading a history book or watching the news – the signs are everywhere.
For designers, a bad case of ego can take shape in a number of ways:
You Stop Listening to Others
In fact, clients do not always make the best recommendations. And when you hear a lot of bad ideas, you might start tuning people out. However, that is a big mistake.
When you refuse to take other people’s opinions seriously, you start creating things only to please yourself. Listening to others and working to understand their point of view is essential to a successful project.
It’s fine to state your case and (gently) argue for what you believe in. Remember that it’s okay to compromise when necessary. Great ideas can come from anywhere.
You Stop Learning
I have fallen into this trap throughout my career. When you become proficient with a skill (HTML, CSS, graphics, etc.), it’s easy to get a little lazy.
But web design is an industry you can leave behind in a heartbeat. Learning is key to staying relevant. To put it bluntly: your future depends on your ability to adapt.
There was a time when I felt I was smart enough to cope, regardless of my skill level. When I discovered WordPress, strangely enough, I realized how wrong I was.
The platform is extremely extensive and forced me to start learning again. From there, I found that I was missing out on many key concepts. It was an invaluable lesson.
You operate on a Single Instinct
News flash: Your “tummy” feeling means just that. Information is key to making decisions – whether you’re talking about code or your career.
Your ego becomes a problem when you make decisions without bothering to do research. That doesn’t mean you have to work for hours on end – not all options are that consequential. It’s just about recognizing that there are things you don’t know.
Once again, it’s about a willingness to learn. Assuming you know it’s a dangerous game.
Choose Your Path Wisely, Designer
If we are not careful, ego can creep up and take hold of any of us. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not just egomaniacs who fall prey. It’s often the smallest attacks that do the most damage.
But ego can play a big role in our ability to succeed. Therefore, it is worth looking at why we make certain decisions. An honest assessment may be the first step towards positive change.