If you find someone with a huge ego, you can know for certain that such a person is shit as a professional and a human being, and vice versa.
The problem with the ego is that it stays in the path of actually admitting errors or limitations, and acting upon them. Similarly, when someone finds their technical or moral limitations, they may choose to address them or to pretend to not have them, and so the ego is reinforced, as a mask of their incompetence. Many people have written and spoken about this, but few have considered both paths of the interaction at the same time or in the same context.
Actions speak louder than words, listen to no words, and let your actions speak for themselves.
When people highlight how humble or honest they are, normally the truth is the contrary. If someone is honest, they do not need to say that they are honest, their actions speak for themselves.
This is what is called “pragmatism” focusing on the actions and the pragmatic consequences (and less on the syntax, semantics, or other stuff). Oftentimes, pragmatism is misused as a synonym of sloppy work and shit-shows. That is the problem with euphemisms, they are just words that try to disguise actions.
If you can’t see yourself working with someone for life, don’t work with them for a day
I have found that when trying to discuss something with pragmatic implications, the ego and the politics can get in the way in the office. If that is the case, the best way to go is flatter their ego and then criticize their actions, with arguments and making a point. I have known this for years, but I keep forgetting about it, as I rarely use it. It is boring, a waste of time, and can only be used in moderation. My advice is not to use it.
I have ignored my own rules in this post, in the sense that the title is not the summary of everything, there is no take-home message, or every paragraph is a different one, so let me add the last one.
You have a hard choice every day:
Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.
- Design your strategy, pretend as much as you can, boast your ego, be the greatest hypocrite, achieve as much success as possible and prepare to have the least fulfilling success of your life and to fear the fall at any second, or
- Bet on honesty, continuous improvement and growth, accept your failures and learn from them, prepare yourself for failure and accept it with stoicism, pay little attention to words and focus on actions. Success this way may be harder, but more fulfilling.
Maybe the choice is a little easier now, but remember, these are just words, only actions count, only actions have an impact.