The Three Ways Your Ego Is Getting In The Way Of Your Career

by Grant Goodwine

The ego. We all have one. It’s healthy to take a little pride in yourself and what you do, but there’s a fine line in which it can really screw you over in your career. An inflated ego is something the successful have for good reason, but if you are still working your way up in the world, you haven't even earned it yet.

An inflated ego is typically frowned upon, but when you’re at the top of the totem pole in your company, it gives you the ability to tell anyone who disagrees with your egotistical nature to f*ck off.

But as a Millennial, it’s likely you're not on top yet. So if you have a big ego, it is actually hurting your chances of becoming successful and burning necessary bridges. I’ve taken the time to break down three essential keys to obtain a successful career and how your over-inflated ego is detrimental.

Starting Ground

We all have to start somewhere, folks. It’s a world run by money and you have to work from the bottom, up. Most college graduates believe that working retail, or in the food service, is beneath their qualifications. While you may have the intellect to land a much superior job, you’re wrong about being too good for a job in one of these industries.

Especially if your prospective career applies, you need to begin from the bottom of the totem pole in order to gain experience. Everyone who achieves success started someone much lesser than their current position. Find a minimum wage job. Use this job as a stepping-stone until you find something more suitable for a career.

A good friend of mine is in school to become a mechanical engineer. One summer, he had a terrible job working for the department of transportation. He actually worked on the roads dodging semi trucks and such, not to mention, in muggy southern heat. The next summer, he put that on his résumé and landed a job in a coalmine. The job was better and, actually, safer. To boot, it paid a hell of a lot better than his job the previous summer, but he had to spend those months living away from his friends and family, sometimes working 12-hour days.

This most recent summer, because of his experience in the coalmine, along with good grades, he landed a highly regarded internship at Boeing, which was only 20 minutes from his house, with regular hours and great pay. This is pretty much the internship every engineering student dreams of. Previous to Boeing, he put in the blood, sweat, and tears at other strenuous internships in order to get this one. What’s the moral of the story? Don't let your ego get too big to believe a little manual labor is beneath you.


Some folks think they are better than everyone else. Well, that may very well be true in some spectrum, but it’s far from true in this one. Every individual has their own unique attributes, which give them an advantage in the work environment. You might be generally more intelligent and cultured than one person, but that person might be more resourceful with the tools around them and better with their hands.

So don't stick your nose up at anyone, especially for no good reason. People with high egos think they are better than others, and in turn, they burn beneficial bridges. You might not be in the same field, or on the same page as someone else, but it’s crucial to your reputation and in gaining respect for yourself to treat everyone else as you wish to be treated.

We all are in this game together, and even if you are playing it solo, you might just need some help along the way. Expand your network and open as many connections as possible.


So an opportunity presents itself; it’s not the best, and you think you're too good for it; you think you can do better. You’re acting like a pretentious fool. Your dream job isn't going to fall from the sky. Once again, it’s all about the journey. You have to take the necessary steps to land that dream job. Consider the pros and cons of every opportunity. If it would be a step in the right direction, take it.

A baby isn't born with an innate talent and learns how to tap dance within the first 15 minutes of life. You need experience. Chances are, if you think you are ready to take on the big dogs, you probably aren't. Take the ladder, instead of trying to jump up to the top. Work your way up to gain the necessary experience and develop the essential skills. Otherwise, you wont make it, you will fall, and you will regret passing up the opportunities that were.

As I said, it’s a positive attribute to take pride in yourself and your work. That pride, mixed with tough skin and ambition can take you places. But it’s important to realize that the journey is going to be far from picture perfect. We are a generation conditioned by instant gratification and praise. But this is the real world where that doesn't apply.

Learn to be patient. Learn to be humble. Work hard. Be kind. You might think you are something special, and for all I know, you might be. But you have to prove it. In order to prove it, you have to work for it.

Top Photo Courtesy: DJ Storm