How important is ego to realizing success? How successful can one be without an inflated sense of self? Furthermore, is an overbearing personality a typical by-product of notable talent?
Talent and ego are certainly related. Having one without the other is rare. When someone is said to have a huge ego, it is never complimentary. But no ego is far worse; it can mean no personality. It means to be passed over, ignored by those either with more talent or bigger egos.
Ego is an important tool to achieving success. It is the simple act of selling one’s self-perspective to others. Some amount of ego is necessary to prove to others your ideas are valid or interesting. It’s a fine line though, and crossing it means to become arrogant in the minds of one’s peers. To name a few who not only step over the line, but spit on it: Simon Cowell, Steve Jobs, Kanye West, Terrel Owens (and most professional athletes for that matter). [Semi-related, iPhone owners revealed to be materialistic, fickle, egomaniacs]
The truly talented people are generally egoless and overwhelming with talent and or vision. That unique talent leads to genuine innovation because they’re not concerned with themselves. These individuals reshape the core of that which makes one generation of people different from the previous ones. They change the very foundations the rest of us normies exist within.
As we journey through life, we (gradually) accept that on-the-whole, none of us are unique. 99.9% of “new” ideas are not revolutionary. The vast majority of us are simply refactoring history with tweaks, some original, most not.
Take the Internet and the ensuing dotcom/web2.0 era much of popular culture, e.g. top egos, currently relies upon. The Internet, as a concept, was invented by a few geeks in a lab. Perhaps they had some idea it would lead to twitter, but probably not.
The revolution began with a huge leap in technology that someone later, likely with a huge ego, identified as an instrument to be leveraged. The geeks may have been granted glory in the eye of history, but the ego monger got all the cash, fame and near-immediate gratification.
History’s geniuses have often not been recognized as such until after his/her passing. An egoist flaunts whatever fractionally valuable insight they possess to further their own self-interested ends at every opportunity. These are the extremes.
Balance between ego and talent assures some success. A team made up of likeminded individuals but opposing strengths will achieve the greatest level success in our society. Ego is required for promotion. Talent is essential to innovation.