Two kinds of people experience extraordinary success in the world — those who have an ego and those who have a purpose.
We all know about people driven by purpose. Elon Musk who envisioned a world of clean energy. Steve Jobs, who envisioned a better world fueled by technology. Bill Gates envisioned every household with a computer. They all have experienced extraordinary success because they are primary driven by their purpose.
Then we have people driven by ego. Mohammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers who claims to be the greatest. Donald Trump, who claims to be the greatest president. Shaquille O’Neal claims to be the greatest player of all time. They, too, have experienced extraordinary levels of success as they are mainly driven by trying to prove to others how great they are.
It is, of course, not a binary choice between being purpose-driven and ego-driven. All the purpose-driven people mentioned have an ego, and all the ego-driven people have a sense of purpose. However, it is about what do you have more of?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both. When you are purpose-driven, you are willing to do things irrespective of whether you will be recognized or not. You are living your best life as you love what you do. You are generally fulfilled because you are doing something meaningful to you. The disadvantages are that you might not achieve a lot of material success if you are purely purpose-driven. An example could be an artist who does purpose-driven work but doesn’t bring in the money because he/she doesn’t have the ego to convince others why others should pay for his/her work. Ego is all about trying to prove one’s self-worth to others.
When you are ego-driven, you are a fierce competitor. You want to win at all costs, sometimes at the expense of others. You are primarily motivated by wanting to prove to others how awesome you are. Your fierce energy to compete might make your competitors back away, and your supporters cheer for you. You have relentless commitment to push through the challenges and accomplish your goals. You are unafraid to promote yourself and show up as extremely confident to others.
The downside of being ego-driven is that you might experience a tremendous amount of stress as you might be doing things, not in line with who you are. You might be trying too hard to be the person others respect that you might lose your own identity. While external success might create high motivation, deep inside, you experience frustration.
Achieving the highest levels of success without burnout requires you to becomes a purpose-driven person first. Bill Gates was doing what he loved best to build software that changes the world. Had he only been purpose-driven, he would have built great software that he never sold, such as Unix. However, he combined that purpose with an ego to make Microsoft one of the world’s most profitable companies. Ego is all about trying to prove to the world why people should pay for the software they install on their computers. Bill Gates did that successfully.
Are you primarily a purpose-driven individual or an ego-driven individual? What would you like to cultivate more to experience great levels of success?