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Is having a huge ego a part of being success?

  1. Mar 18, 2012 #1
    Or shall we ask, are all successful men and women in possess of huge egos?

    If you know someone Bill Gates, Warren Buffet successful but truly humble by heart, please let us know.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 18, 2012 #2
    Personally, I think it's more a matter of not underestimating your abilities and not making excuses. Unfortunately, doing that will make people accuse you of being arrogant and having a 'huge ego'. I don't think Bill Gates has a huge ego, for example.

    In any case, there are millions of successful men and women around the world, and it seems unlikely that all of them have inflated egos. But if I had to give one example, I would probably say Paul Graham (the programmer).
  4. Mar 18, 2012 #3


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  5. Mar 18, 2012 #4


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    You can call it ego, but I would say being successful requires being confident in yourself and your abilities. Part of being successful or accomplishing anything is having to deal with obstacles, sometimes in the form of people who are giving you bad advice, and you need a good deal of self-confidence to handle that.

    That's just my 2 cents. It's difficult to give a definitive answer to a question as general as this one.
  6. Mar 18, 2012 #5
    I don't think there is any hard and fast rule and it just depends on the individual. However, I do think there is some truth to the idea that success can tend to inflate peoples' egos.
  7. Mar 18, 2012 #6


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    I have worked with and for people with "huge" egos, and they are generally jerks that fail to live up to their own hype. Just my experience. I don't care how many self-help meetings they attended and how many Rotary Club meetings singing Kum ba Ya. Jerks are jerks.

    BTW, IMO the Dale Carnegie afficianadoes are the worst of the worst, trying to layer smiles and sycophantic behavior over their lack of humanity.

    Most of the most successful people that I know (and have known) were nice people, and were willing to listen to others. Not jerks or blow-hards, just regular folks that worked hard and did well.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  8. Mar 19, 2012 #7
    In answer to the title question. Yes. Do I know of any successful but humble people ... no. But one can be a prig to certain people, and a really nice person to others. It depends, largely, on the circumstances, I think.
  9. Mar 19, 2012 #8
    I think egos are not a part of being successful, because you can run into people with egos pretty much anywhere you go.

    I've dated a few young, unsuccessful girls with senses of entitlement that for some reason have these big egos that make them pretentious music listeners, even though they're not musicians themselves. And, because they have obscure bands on their ipods, some how that means they have higher IQs and the only valid political opinions. And if anyone disagrees, they get really pissed, which is one of the biggest signs of an inflated ego - someone who can't admit they could be wrong. Other people's accomplishments mean very little to them, and they are generally self-centered.

    On the other hand, I have a self made millionaire uncle who spends his time documenting family ancestry, taking care of his elder father, spending time with his family doing fun things and just is a down to earth guy who never shows his ego (even though he probably has one that he hides).

    The most humble successful people I have come across are professors though. I can think of at least three who are brilliant with patents, papers published, etc. but never try to hold it over others. They live humble life styles but do big things.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
  10. Mar 19, 2012 #9
    This is a very good point, imho.

    This is funny, and, afaik, true.

    He seems like a great person. My paternal grandfather was like that. Very rich. Something of a taskmaster at work (I worked with/for him when I was young). But away from work just the nicest, quietest guy one might imagine. Full of wisdom when asked. But never intrusive or presumptuous.

    Me too, wrt a couple of successful professors who I'm close to ... true heavyweights in their fields. But just nice, honest, unassuming people.
  11. Mar 19, 2012 #10
    I've seen that successful people tend to have a touch of humility. They have ego's but are aware of the baggage an ego carries at try to minimize or reduce it.

    Of course, then there are guys who are huge egomaniacs. Idk really, seems I can think of an equal number of both kinds...
  12. Mar 19, 2012 #11


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    I worked for an incredible egomaniac for a while. When I'd come up with an idea to streamline the business or make him more money, he'd dismiss it out-of-hand. Not much later, he would present it as his own idea (or the idea of the GM or Operations Manager {his brother-in-law}) at a staff meeting, but it was clear that implementing the idea properly was going to be problematic, because he didn't let me explain the idea fully, and didn't know why I had proposed the idea in the first place. Lots of fits and starts with those projects, because he only saw the rough outlines, not the details.

    Real successful businessmen know how to listen to the people closest to the problems in their organization, understand the problems, and implement solutions that work. Only a jerk thinks that he understands all the problems in the workplace better than all his employees.
  13. Mar 19, 2012 #12
    Look up locus of control:

    There are certain psychological reasons why believing you can do something will make you more likely to achieve it. The best example is with trying to learn something. For instance if you didn’t think you were able to understand a concept why try to understand it? If you don’t think you are able to remember something then why bother to remember it?

    It is important to evaluate are strengths and weaknesses so we can best focus our energies. Knowing what works for us gives us strategies to achieve our goals. When we are trying to learn the process of thinking about strategies to learn is called meta-cognition. But in general we must always be evaluating which strategies work best for us.

    Being over confident may let someone bluff their way through something but as someone once said, you can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people, all of the time. False confidence may not be as much of a handicap as no confidence but it is bound to result in wasted energy and big failures. That said failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it is part of the learning process but it is not the desired end.
  14. Mar 19, 2012 #13
    From my experience, people who are successful tend to be rather matter-of-fact about it, kind of "my success speaks for itself", while those who brag a lot tend not to have accomplished much of note.

    Also, thumbs up to the Song of Ice and Fire quote!
  15. Mar 21, 2012 #14
    There's a book on this. I think it's called 'The NO Asshole Rule' by Robert Stutton.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_No_*******_Rule [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
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