Don’t let your ego get in the way of your success

ego get in the way

Success is not about being the best, it’s about being YOUR best.

You weren’t meant to compete, you were meant to contribute.

But that’s not typically what we hear in life, is it?

We are told that you have to fight to get to the top and then do whatever it takes to stay there. It’s dog-eat-dog, step on the little guys, and claw your way to the top. Then you’ll be happy and satisfied.


That’s what I call a “competition mindset”  and it’s an ego trap.

Your significance becomes tied to how well you can outdo the guy (or company) next to you, and most of the time it limits your success.

That’s because it’s built on a lie. Remember? Success is not about being the best, it’s about being YOUR best.

Instead of trying to keep up with your nearest competitor, maybe you should step out of the fray and reevaluate YOUR unique calling.

Stop trying to fit into a mold someone else created for you. Stop trying to prove something (to others or to yourself). The truth is that you’ve got nothing to prove, only someone unique to be.

Why not try living (or working) to fit the mold that your Creator has designed for YOU? You’ll find significance, meaning, fulfillment, and that the you that you are is designed especially to contribute in ways that only you can.

When you can do this, there’s no ego to get in your way… only a desire to do your utmost for His highest (somebody should write a book by that name!).

What is success?

what is success?

It could be argued that success is defined by its context.

For example, success in a military profession will look very different than success in motherhood.

I get that… there are definitely ways that looking at success through that sort of segmentation is helpful. But I want to step back and look at a bigger picture.

I believe we all feel an urge to divide our lives into compartments…. boxes if you will. We do it for a variety of reasons. It’s easier to stay organized mentally when you think of life in smaller chunks. Things don’t feel so out of control or hectic when you give yourself permission to address one “area” at a time. Depending on who you are, how you were raised, the priorities you’ve developed throughout your life, it will look something like this…


That approach to life is where we get the idea that success looks different in different contexts. Again, I get that.

But I want to suggest that thinking of life that way leads to a serious problem.

We stop thinking of ourselves as integrated beings, as a whole with many facets. We forget that what goes on in one of those “areas” necessarily relates to and impacts the others.

That’s why we have…

  • politicians who insist that their private life is entirely unrelated to their public life.
  • pastors who try to resume ministry immediately after a personal disgrace is exposed.
  • dads or moms who are a top producers at work but are failing miserably at home.

In reality, the box illustration looks like this…

life box

Everything touches everything. All aspects of life have an affect on the others. It’s like the mixture of ingredients in your favorite recipe. If one were missing, the recipe would not turn out the same. Such is life.

So what is success in life?

With all that in the backdrop, success becomes less about individual achievements in particular spheres, and more about the overall impact or tone of a person’s life. We can’t legitimately say someone who has died was a “great man” if his family was in shambles. We can’t say his life was inspirational if he was known to have had mistresses on the side. We can surely acknowledge the good things that come from a person’s life even if other aspects of their character are questionable. But we can’t rightly make a sweeping general statement that they were “good” or “successful.”

By that criteria none of us can truly be called by those titles, can we?

We all have areas of weakness, frailty, and outright sin that are in the process of reclamation. Each one of us is in need of reintegration.

That means that success in life can’t come from within us (contrary to popular belief). We don’t have the power or capacity to pull off such an audacious goal.

We need help… badly.

Thankfully, help is available.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.Titus 2:11-14

The grace of God has appeared. His help is available. The things that plague us, that hold us back, that keep us from attaining success in life are able to be conquered by His grace (meaning, with His help).

Through God’s grace we can:

  • renounce ungodliness and worldly passions.
  • live a self-controlled, upright, and godly life.
  • wait for the appearing of our Savior, Jesus.
  • do good works that truly matter.

THAT is success in life.

It is an integrated, overcoming kind of success that addresses our deepest needs, not just our temporal wants.

It’s a liberating success, setting us free from our inherent limitations of sin and selfishness.

It’s a success that makes our lives into conduits of God’s grace so we are able to eternally, positively impact others.

It is a success entirely dependent, moment by moment, on the living person of Jesus Christ who will one day return to perfect what He has begun.

It is a success that enables us to cease striving for menial ambitions and instead view every opportunity in light of the greater purpose He has for us.

NEXT: Why you will succeed when others fail

If your business is about helping people, you’re sights are set too low

helping people

Helping people is good… but is it the main thing?

There is a half-truth that has long been talked about in business circles. I like the true part – a lot, but have cringed when I consider the untrue part.

Zig Ziglar (a brother in Christ who went home this year) said it best when he wrote…

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.

The idea Zig is communicating is a half-truth is because it doesn’t say enough.

What it does say is true, no doubt – but it needs to go farther, to speak to the motivation behind helping other people. Leaving it the way it is makes it sound as if helping people is the be-all, end-all of business or life, or that helping fulfill the selfish desires of others (and thereby yourself) is the highest goal.

But neither of those things is true.

For all people, and Christians in particular, we are called to something more than getting “everything in life we want.” We are called to something more than helping “other people get what they want.

We are called to do all we do (recreation, business, family life, entertainment, studying, etc) to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

What does that mean… to do all to the glory of God?

Surely, helping people in tangible ways qualifies, but there’s more to it than that. Doing things to the glory of God has has to do with attitude and motivation, not only with what we do.

We can seek to help other people get what they want, serve their needs, make outstanding products that truly make the world a better place, and do it all without giving glory to God in the process… and that is missing the mark.

As Christian businessmen and women we need to do a heart check. If you are genuinely wanting to do your work to serve people, ask yourself the most important question:

WHY am I wanting to serve people?

Think about it. Hard. Work it through with the LORD’s help to come up with a true, God-fearing, Christ-honoring motivation for your business. Because when you stand before God at the end of your life, He’s going to want to hear more than, “I ran my business to help people get what they wanted in life (so that I could get what I wanted in life).”

Don’t you think?

Train yourself to see what others miss

see what others missSeeing what others miss is natural for some people.


the Seth-ster himself!

Take Seth Godin for example. He is a business guy who seems to be very adept at noticing strange or significant things that others either overlook or are unwilling to talk about. Jesus was the same way (only better at it).

In fact, almost every visionary, inventor, major scientist, and or leader has been able to see things that others don’t. It doesn’t matter if they are a positive example (Nelson Mandela) or a negative one (Adolph Hitler). They see opportunities, needs, causes, weaknesses, wrongs, situations, etc. through eyes that seek a way to capitalize on them – for good or bad.

But it’s a skill that can be learned too…

I believe that a person can and should train themselves so the skill of noticing the typically unnoticed is developed over time. And it’s necessary. Each of us has a unique mix of gifts, skills, and abilities that the LORD wants to use to make a positive difference in the world, so that He receives glory for it. We owe it to Him, ourselves, and the world to develop those things the best we can and see great things happen in the process.

Becoming adept at seeing the unseen is nothing more than developing keen skills of observation, like the fictional Sherlock Holmes in a way… so that you are able to pick up on things needing fixed, adjusted, corrected, or investigated more thoroughly. It’s those kinds of observations that can make a huge difference for how you view the world and how you operate in it.

But it’s also about knowing how to interpret the things you see.

  • What are they saying, showing, or meaning for the people around them?
  • What impact do they have on the present and the future?
  • What would changes to them provide or prohibit?
  • How can they be improved to maximize their benefits?

When you learn to do this consistently you’ll begin to see a handful of powerful results.

  1. You’ll begin to find your place in the world (maybe).
  2. You’ll find problems to fix or solve.
  3. You’ll find beautiful, wonderful things about life you didn’t know were there (and therefore more reason to give God praise).
  4. You’ll begin to differentiate yourself from your competition as you act on what you see.
  5. You’ll learn to serve customers, clients, friends, and family better.

How to learn to see

I’ve experimented with this concept many times in my life… and have picked up a few tips that I’d like to pass on. These are things that have proven helpful to me as I’ve tried to develop my skills in observation and comprehension.

1. Take time to look

take time to lookNoticing things takes time… at least at first. Consider your daily commute or a drive you make quite often. Can you tell me the color of the 3rd building you see? What about the type of font used on the sign at the local grocery store? These things may sound insignificant, and may be – but they illustrate how little we truly stop to look around us.

One reason you don’t notice things on that drive is because you’re moving too fast. If you were to walk the same route, you’d have time to see things you normally miss entirely. That’ my problem.. I’m typically in such a mad dash to get something done that I pass right by things in the process.

Over the years I have tried to slow down, at least in my mind. I seek to stop for a few seconds (come on, you CAN afford a few seconds) to assess what it is that I’m seeing. I notice colors, sounds, smells, shapes, textures. It’s mind blowing when you begin to realize all the amazing things that you pass by every day.

2. Take time to think

take time to thinkOnce you’ve noticed something, start to analyze it. Ask yourself these types of questions:

  • Does this work?
  • Is it well-built?
  • Did the designer think it through well?
  • What is wrong with it?
  • How could it be better?
  • Is there an injustice happening here?
  • Is there a need that could be/should be met here?
  • Is it enjoyable? What could make it more so?
  • Is there a lie or type of misinformation needing to be corrected?
  • Is there a beauty that needs to be made much of?

You get the point… stop accepting what is AS what must be and try to imagine what might be. How could your particular insights into the thing or situation make it better?

A silly example

The following picture illustrates one of these “think about it” moments for me. It’s one I’ve had on my mind for a long time.

It’s not something I feel compelled to do anything about, but it does give me a lot to think about in my business and other endeavors when it comes to the issue of customer service.

not customer service

When I think about this issue I ask these sorts of questions:

Q: Why do businesses insist on buying sandpaper toilet paper?
A: Cost, most likely. Definitely NOT comfort.

Q: Who does that primarily benefit?
A: The company. Of course it may impact the prices the company charges, but not as much as a soft roll of toilet paper!

Q: Is the company showing me that they really care about customer service, or are they showing me that they really care about the bottom line? (no pun intended there).
A: The bottom line is the main issue.

And here comes the really important question for me…

Is there anything I’m currently doing in my business that is cheaper, but not best for my customer.

BINGO! I’ve gleaned the benefit of good observation. I’ve seen something that others miss and it’s going to help me differentiate myself from everyone else out there who is trying to do the same work I am.

And I believe in the end it’s going to help me win and keep clients and be observant and proactive in my parenting and marriage.

Training myself to see what others miss is vital… and a skill I’m still honing day after day.

What keeps you from noticing things that others miss? Share your thoughts below!

Self-reliance is self-deception

your own bootstraps


I grew up being taught (at least by example) the idea of self-reliance. I have a Mom and Dad who are hard working, blue-collar, self-made people in many ways. I have learned a ton from their great example.

So please understand right here at the outset… I’m all for the “kick yourself in the behind and get it done” sort of initiative that it takes to succeed in life or business. It even follows along the line of biblical teaching in some ways.

Too often I have deceived myself into buying all the lines the world has tried to feed me…

“If it is to be, it is up to me.”

“You can do anything you set your mind to.”

“You can be whatever you want to be in life.”

“The only thing holding you back, is you.”

“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…”

“What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

While I understand the motive behind all of these kinds of statements, there is a fundamental flaw in all of them.


and that is the most tragic and fatal error that a person could make.

I have come to see that self-reliance is a lie.

There is very little in this life that I can truly be entirely self-reliant about. That’s because in the end, I need God’s guidance, help, and empowerment to carry out anything that I would consider worthwhile.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.John 15:5

That is a FOUNDATIONAL MINDSET that I have to get in place BEFORE I try to work on anything with the kind of diligence my parents modeled to me. If I don’t get that way of thinking in place first, I will wear myself out with efforts to accomplish, achieve, etc. and be producing NOTHING of eternal significance.

It’s like math (and I really, REALLY dislike math)…

math mistake

When I was in Jr. High and High School I truly disliked math. I became unglued when a mistake I made at the very beginning of a problem caused me to miss the answer entirely. I didn’t like it (and still don’t) but that’s the nature of how math works.

The same is true of how you and I think of self-reliance.

If I buy what our culture tells us and believe that my success is entirely up to me, I’ve missed something at the very beginning of the equation… and it is something VITAL to getting to the right outcome. I’ve missed God, the ARCHITECT and GUIDE of my life. I have no hope of EVER getting to the right results (in life or business or parenting or whatever) if I leave Him out of the equation. To stick with the math analogy, my answer will always, Always, ALWAYS be wrong.

How to break this kind of self-deception

1. Identify the lies you’ve been believing (the list from above may be a good start).

2. Tweak them until they come into line with the truth of what God has revealed about your participation in His plans.

Here are some examples:

“If it is to be, it is up to God and me.”

“You can do anything God equips and calls you to do.”

“You can be whatever God wants you to be in life.”

“The only thing holding you back, is your inability to trust God and His plan.”

“I know God can, I know God can, I know God can…”

“What the LORD can conceive HE can achieve.”

3. Learn to rely on Him more and more each day.

4. Set your mind to discover and immerse yourself in HIS plans for your life. He’s revealed the majority of what you need to know in His word.

Get to work… knowing that His calling IS His enabling.

Tell me how you’ve deceived yourself over the years and how you’ve learned to overcome it