Us creatives and our big egos. The little devil who sits on our shoulder each day – the ego. Sometimes he can be a good asset to have, but most of the times he causes us problems even if we aren’t aware of it. He whispers things in our ears that twists our reality and how we view ourselves. So, how can we defeat our bloated creator-egos? Welcome to the creative ego!
I’m so good!
I truly am the best!
I’m the only one who can do this.
Everyone is amateurs compared to me.
I already know this, I don’t need to learn more.
When our ego gets too big, when we are listening to much on the devil on our shoulder, we tend to get stuck inside our own head and isolate ourselves from the real world. Ego is the voice that says we are better than what we really are and makes us blind to an honest and correct touch with the outside world. Because, without a correct perception of our own skills compared to others and the tasks and challenges we face, we are doomed for failure sooner or later. When we let our ego bloat it isn’t self-confidence but illusion.
The performance artist Marina Abramović said it well:
” If you start believing your own greatness, it is the death of your creativity.”
The creative ego accelerator
Social media is the creative ego accelerator. The catwalk and of the highlights, to say at least. All over the world we post what we have achieved. On Facebook we post images from the amazing locations we visit #yourvacationmyjob. The more “let me tell you how great I am” – we post, the more likes we get and with these likes our ego bloats. The ones who dare to defy their highlight reel and show how reality really is through humility and transparency are the ones who keeps the ego under control and have the best connection with reality. To be honest, this is something I’m struggling with as well!
The ability to evaluate yourself and constantly develop for the better as a creative is extremely important. To see where your flaws and areas of improvement are. But, with a too big ego this is an ability that tends to disappear, fast. Especially as it is more fun to focus on our strengths and mastered talents. But creating good stuff IS hard and challenging. It takes energy, slaps our big fat ego across the face and can sometimes be terrifying. That’s when we as creatives performs at our best. Not when we create without development. So we can feed the little devil with “look how good I am at doing this”.
The ego killer
The strength in being a student and to constantly develop isn’t really in the instructions you receive with new knowledge. To be a student knocks your ego from your shoulder and into the hands of the teachers. Because you aren’t better than the one teaching you new skills. A perfect example of this is Kirk Hammett, lead guitarist from Metallica.
When Kirk got the offer to join Metallica we can assume it was the chance he had been waiting for his whole life. Even though he had years and years of experience playing the guitar behind him and that he just joined Metallica, Kirk didn’t let his ego stand in the way for his own development. He looked up the best guitar coach he could find – Joe Satriani, the teacher of teachers. Every week for two years Kirk received instructions from Joe to develop his technique and gain a broader understanding of the craft. Kirk wanted to learn the things he didn’t knew – to become even better. Instead of letting the ego take the wheels by believing he now was the best by playing in Metallica, Kirk saw the opportunity to develop to the better.
Creative ego might be our biggest enemy. Ego puts you in a defensive position that blinds us, gives us incorrect feedback on our own talent and isolates from the true reality.
If you want to read more about how our ego limits us I really recommend this book: Ego is the Enemy.