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Fundamental # 3 – Check the ego at the door

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Check the ego at the door.  Our own egos and personal agendas must never get in the way of what’s best for Webco.  Don’t take challenge personally or defensively.  Being concerned with who gets credit, who looks good, or who looks bad is counterproductive.  Make sure every decision is based solely on what will best advance our team goals.

I’m dating myself a little with this one but who remembers the movie Top Gun?  Great movie!  Take the time to watch if you’ve not seen it.  In the movie Tom Cruise’s character, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell was a Top Gun F-14 pilot—“the best of the best” among Naval Aviators.   Throughout the movie Maverick operates by his own set of rules because his ego controls his actions.  He defies his CO’s (Commanding Officers); he defies rules of air to air combat engagement;   and during a combat exercise he leaves his wingman, which you never do, to pursue his own targets in order to make himself look like a better pilot.  EGO!  EGO! EGO!  His fellow pilots think that he’s too dangerous to fly with and do not want to fly with him.   At one point in the movie Maverick is called in by his Commanding Officer and told that “his ego is writing checks his body can’t cash”.     Maverick learns this lesson the hard way (which I won’t disclose in case you haven’t seen the movie), and by the end of the movie Maverick has checked his ego at the door. He ends up becoming a better, safer, more confident pilot that is respected among his peers.

Several years ago I got extremely upset with one of our leads. I made some comments that I shouldn’t have made because I was upset and frustrated with the situation at hand.   Afterwards Gary and I talked. Gary pointed out several things to me about the comments I had made and, reflecting back on them today, they were all ego driven.  My comments damaged the relationship with that person for a period of time.  He didn’t want to talk to me about problem parts, and I didn’t go to him for advice on issues that I should have.  How did my actions help move our company forward?  They didn’t!!   For our company to be successful we all need each other to perform and execute in our respective roles.  We need to be open to each other’s ideas and suggestions.    We need look for the opportunity and not the difficulty in honest, constructive feedback. We must make sure that our decisions benefit our company and not be concerned with our individual benefit.

Always keep in mind that we can, in fact, due harm to Webco by focusing on ourselves rather than the company.  In addition, always remember that every challenge is an opportunity to learn something more and expand your personal skillset.

– Mike Johnson